We are at the end of road trip season, and thousands of families across the country are preparing to pack up and hit the highway for one last trip before school starts. While there are plenty of guides and useful tips on how to properly prepare your luggage or maintain your vehicle, there are few guides out there on how to handle kids on your road trips. Children are packed with energy, and keeping them in your car for hours at a time rarely results in a great experience. The situation could get even more complicated if you are road tripping with multiple young kids.
However, people who have a lot of experience with kids & road trips can tell you that it does not necessarily need to be a negative experience. I drive thousands of miles with my young children every year, and we have been doing it their entire lives. If you spend some time preparing activities and entertainment in advance, you will end up finding out that traveling with kids is not always bad. In fact, it can be an awesome experience – as long as you have the ability and preparation to keep them occupied for hours at a time.
But before we get to the entertainment part of your road trip with kids, let’s start with the basics – packing the necessary supplies and accessories.
Bringing snacks is a no-brainer when it comes to road tripping with kids, especially if you have a long trip planned out. Naturally, it is up to you to determine what types of snacks you will bring, depending on you and your children’s preferences. While some families like to go for store-bought snacks, others prefer to focus on homemade snacks that are typically somewhat healthier. Make sure not to experiment when it comes to snacking during road trips – the last thing you want is a kid with a stomach ache, an allergic reaction or bathroom emergencies. Go with your usual “tried and true” snacks.
‘Distributing’ snacks is usually pretty easy, but the situation might change if you are traveling with a mini-van or another larger vehicle that has a third row of seats. In these cases, we recommend getting a grabber tool. This simple accessory can save you so much time and effort. You will be able to easily grab snacks, books, bottles, trash, and anything else you might want to pass back and forth.
An entertaining movie is a great way to get kids through a road trip, hours at a time. DVD players are found in a lot of modern vehicles, but they are certainly not a universal feature. Thankfully, you can also purchase a DVD player and screen to be fitted inside your vehicle. This is especially useful during road trips, and we advise you to consider getting one if you frequently travel with kids. Not only can this option offer endless entertainment for kids of all ages, but it can be very cheap as well – renting a movie from Red Box, for example, costs just $1.50. The best part is that you can rent a disc and then return it to another Red Box store across multiple states at no extra cost. This allows you to get a new movie whenever you stop across your trip. It’s a low price to pay for at least 90 minutes of entertainment for your kids during a road trip.
Popular Entertainment Options
If you are traveling with smaller children, then you can rely on the typical toys and gadgets for entertainment – coloring kits, books, etc. However, the best type of entertainment is the one where you, as a parent, can get involved. Kids still love the old school games that we all used to play – the alphabet game, the state license plate game, and the classic ‘I Spy.’ Mixing these small games alongside other entertainment options is a great way to keep your kids occupied without the risk of boring them with the same stuff over and over again.
If you are traveling with multiple kids, you might also want to give road trip bingo a try. It is just like original bingo, but instead of numbers, you get things that you are likely to see on the road – motorcycles, STOP signs, bicycles, various animals, etc. Even if it does not seem that entertaining, you can rest assured that your kids will love competing with each other when it comes to road trip bingo.
We certainly advise you to explore these options, as well as to do your research for other road trip games that your kids may like. While it may be tempting to entertain them with a smartphone and YouTube, exploring some of the tried and tested entertainment options can make your children much happier.
Refresh Your History & Geography Knowledge
Kids absolutely love listening to stories, and road trips are a great opportunity to tell them more about the places you are visiting. Even if you did not pay much attention during history and geography class, you can still learn a thing or two about some of the places your road trip will take you to. Maybe an area/state is known for a particular event or phenomenon? Maybe an important event in history took place nearby? Even sharing personal experiences from a specific place can captivate your kids. Make sure to prepare some interesting tidbits of knowledge before your trip and use them when the time comes. Road trips are a great way to teach your kids some fascinating things.
One easy way to do this is to keep your eyes peeled for historical markers. They are large plaques that give an account of the historical significance of places or buildings all across the land, and often times there is a street sign letting you know that there is a marker coming up soon. If you all just need to get out and stretch your legs for a minute, make a habit of stopping to read the plaques.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from. We recommend trying to be engaged with the activities your kids find interesting during road trips. Remember to switch them around every now and then. Focus on a single thing too many times, and your kids are guaranteed to be bored out of it – this is something that you do not want to risk. The old games and tricks we all used to enjoy during road trips are still applicable today, so do not hesitate to try them out during your next road trip with kids.