Road Trip Tips for Families with Young Kids
Blog Post Revised: July 17, 2023
Taking a road trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Arizona? Or are you driving to see Mickey and Minnie in Florida? No matter where you’re headed, planning a road trip with young kids can feel overwhelming! Try these tips to make your journey go smoother.
Write a Packing List
It isn’t easy to pack lightly when you’re traveling with kids. You might need diapers, wipes, bibs, burp cloths, blankets, a stroller, a sound machine and more. Quiet time might be hard to come by these days, but consider writing a list after the kids go to bed. You’ll want to think through everything you’ll need carefully. Check that you’ve grabbed everything on your list before you hit the road. That way you won’t forget the portable high-chair or your child’s favorite teddy bear.
Stock Up on Snacks
No one wants to be stuck in the car with hangry family members! Keep a bag or cooler with plenty of snacks. Portion snacks in baggies ahead of time so they’re easy to grab on the go. Here are some snack ideas that aren’t too messy for the car:
- Applesauce pouches
- Fruit leather
- Baby carrots
- Sliced bell peppers
- Granola bars
- Mini muffins
- String cheese
- Crustless PB&J sandwiches
- Lunch meat
Bonus! By packing your own snacks, you'll spend less at pit stops. Your budget will thank you.
Carry Spare Clothes
Be prepared for messes. Your toddler could spill apple juice all over their shirt or your baby might have a blowout. You don’t want to have to dig through a suitcase to find fresh clothes. For efficiency’s sake, keep extra outfits handy in your diaper bag or a tote bag. You can do a quick wardrobe change and get back on the road.
Make sure to have a few tricks up your sleeve. When your child is getting restless, surprise them by pulling out a fun toy. Here are a few travel-friendly toy suggestions:
- Water-reveal pad
- Coloring book with crayons
- Buckle toy
- Stacking cups
- Toy cars
- Sound books
- Pop fidget toy
- Magnetic drawing board
- Finger puppets
Create a Playlist
Inevitably the kids will get bored when you’re driving through endless stretches of cornfields. Try to cheer them up with a mini dance party. Here are some upbeat tunes to consider adding to your road trip playlist:
- “We Are the Dinosaurs” by The Laurie Berkner Band
- “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong
- “Y.M.C.A.” by Village People
- “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from the Encanto soundtrack
- “You’re Welcome” from the Moana soundtrack
- “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
- “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King soundtrack
- “Pup Pup Boogie” by PAW Patrol
- “Roar” by Katy Perry
- “Fireflies” by Owl City
- “Let it Go” from the Frozen soundtrack
- “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
- “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars
- “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from the Trolls soundtrack
- “ABC” by Jackson 5
- “I Like to Move It” from the Madagascar 2 soundtrack
- “Going on a Bear Hunt” by the Kiboomers
- “Skidamarink A Dink A Dink” by Super Simple Songs
- “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid soundtrack
- “Yes Yes Vegetables” by CoComelon
Sitting in the car for hours can be tough when you’re an adult—let alone a kid full of energy! Try to make each stop count. Have your little ones run around the grass at rest stops or spend a little time at a playground on your route. You could also play a game of tag or “Red Light, Green Light” to get them moving. Have a baby who isn’t walking yet? You can let them stretch or crawl on a blanket outside before you buckle them back into their car seat.
Download Fun Videos
If your kids are old enough to enjoy TV shows, don’t beat yourself up about letting them have a little screen time to help you survive a long road trip. Hot tip! With the PBS KIDS Video app, you can download videos for free. They can watch shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood or Sesame Street without a Wi-Fi connection.
Drive While They Sleep
Try to maximize naps in the car. It will make the trip easier for the kids and more peaceful for the parents. Depending on how far your drive is, you may want to leave in the early morning hours when the kids are still sleeping, or it might make sense to leave right before your children’s normal nap time. Keep essentials nearby like a blanket and a pacifier to help them fall or stay asleep.
Some families also find it can be helpful to put the kids in their PJs and drive through the night. That way they can get some good mileage in while the kids sleep. This can work well if your destination is a family member’s house, and they can watch the kids while you recover some sleep after you arrive.
Plan for everything to take longer than expected and try to roll with the punches! There are bound to be a few bumps when traveling with little ones, but hopefully you’ll make lots of great memories too. If you need to buy a safe and reliable vehicle before you head out on your family adventure, we can help with a low-rate auto loan.