How to Survive (and Actually Enjoy) a Road Trip with Young Children
7) Avoid meltdowns from dropped or disorganized toys AND provide a playing surface. A great way to contain toys and create a nice play or drawing surface is to pick up dollar store cookie trays. Attach magnets to the bottom of puzzle pieces and matching games, as well as little toys like army men (the army men are a big hit with my boys!). Tip: the magnets with adhesive did not stay stuck to the bottom of the army men. They required some KraGle (Krazy Glue) to keep the magnets on. It is worth the effort to do this, as the kids had so much fun with their magnetic army men.
Not just a road trip activities surface; these trays come in handy as a surface when you need to eat meals in the car, too.
9) Look for sights along the way that are interesting for children and fun for the whole family. We love a website called Roadside America which can help you find roadside attractions, oddities, and points of historical interest on your route. For example, we’ve seen the world’s largest chili pepper, the country’s oldest road sign, the place where Clyde Barrow had his last bologna sandwich (as well as the spot Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed nearby), and so many more. Here is a fun stop we made when we went through Roswell, New Mexico, which the kids just loved:
11) Make sure to budget for souvenirs. When we can, we like to find small but special souvenirs from our journey. It helps the kids remain connected with the trip for long afterwards if they can show their friends a special stone purchased at a national park, or a funny t-shirt from a new state they have visited.
12) Dress comfortably, and be prepared for different types of weather. For road trips, go for comfort instead of “cool.” Letting kids wear their favorite comfy clothes will save their and your sanity. Having layers available is also good for bouts of unexpected heat or cold. We had to stop at a Walmart along the way to grab gloves and knit caps during this trip when we were unexpectedly surrounded by snow:
13) When you need to stop for the night, request ground floor hotel rooms. This is for a few reasons. First, you have a lot of things to carry when you are traveling with young kids (including the sleepy kids themselves), so it is nice to avoid flights of stairs. Second, you won’t have anyone under you to disturb when your kids stomp around. Cars tend to lull kids to sleep, and that coupled with being cooped up for hours will mean your kids will want to run, bounce, and play by the time you get to the hotel each night.
Family road trip ideas:
- California 1 Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip: Big Sur Coastal Drive Stops
- Family Route 66 Road Trip
- Road Trip from Austin to New Orleans
- Family Road Trip from Texas to California
- Southern U.S. Family Road Trip Route and Recommendations
- Route and Recommendations for a Road Trip Through the U.S. Southwest
- Itinerary and Recommendations for a Family Road Trip from Texas to Washington, DC
- Route and recommendations for planning the ultimate Midwest baseball road trip