15 Tips for Surviving a Road Trip with Kids + All the Gear You Need

It may seem overwhelming to take a road trip with kids, but it can be one of the most memorable experiences of your family's life. Road trips are an affordable way to see the country. Experiencing a new place with your family will provide lifelong memories. Don't let the destination be the only adventure; a well-planned road trip is the start of your family adventure. 

15 Tips for Surviving a Road Trip with Kids

Surviving a road trip with kids.
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Preparation is the key to a successful family road trip. So before you hit the road, take a few moments to create a plan to not only survive your family road trip but enjoy it.

1. Break up the Drive

Family on a road trip.
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Consider splitting your travel between two days if your drive is relatively long. Young children have difficulty riding in the car for long periods. Instead, drive halfway or more on the first day and complete your drive on the second day. Breaking up your trip into manageable travel is beneficial for children and less stressful for the driver.

2. Leave Early

Dad and son in a car.
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Leave early in the morning or late at night to avoid heavy traffic. You can typically cover more distance in the morning when traffic is light, and the kids are still in good spirits. You may even find that your children will fall asleep in the car from waking up so early.

Alternatively, you can leave at night if your kids may sleep in the car. This approach works best for younger kids that have earlier bedtimes. Sleeping children means a peaceful and quiet ride with fewer stops.

3. Pack Plenty of Snacks + a Cooler

Kids eating sandwiches in the car.
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Don't skip packing plenty of snacks. Fill your cooler with fresh fruit, sandwiches, squeezy yogurt, and other healthy snacks. Also, pack fun, non-perishable snack foods your kids may not regularly get to eat.

If you want to save time and money, pack a meal. For example, pack a picnic lunch and eat at a rest area to let the kids get outside and run around. 

Road Trip Snack for Kids

  • Goldfish
  • Trail Mix
  • Applesauce 
  • Veggie straws
  • Fruit snacks
  • Popcorn
  • Cereal bars
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Pretzels

4. Take Along the Tools to Clean Up Messes

Boy in car.
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Anticipate kids making a mess. Whether they spill their drinks, have a potty accident, or get car sick, being prepared to clean up is a good idea.

Pack a change of clothes, paper towels, plastic bags, and other cleaning items in an easily accessible spot. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer are also good because kids always have sticky hands. 

car trash can will also come in handy to keep trash from littering the car.

It's always better to prepare for a mess than to be stuck in the car with a mess you can't clean up.

5. Pack a Reusable Water Bottle

Little boy drinking water.
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A reusable water bottle for each person in the vehicle will reduce trash and prevent spills. Use a leakproof water bottle that is easy for your child to use and will fit in their cupholder.

Pack empty water bottles and fill them at your pit stops to prevent kids from drinking too much. More liquids mean more bathroom breaks.

6. Screen Time

Kids in car with screens.
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Give kids plenty of entertainment on the road to avoid the dreaded “Are we there yet?” question. A dual-screen headrest DVD player lets your kids watch movies together to help pass the time. 

If your kids have tablets, you can download movies from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, or iTunes Store. 

Load devices with games, movies, and shows that don't require WiFi or cell service before you leave. 

7. Road Trip Games

Family playing games.
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Introduce your children to road trip games like license plate bingo, the alphabet game, or 20 questions. Road trip games give kids a break from screens and encourage them to take in the scenery outside the car.  

Both adults and kids will love participating in road trip games. In addition, your kids might learn something educational along the way. 

8. Give Kids Headphones

Kids in car with headphones.
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Remember to pack headphones for the kids with your tablets and DVD player. Headphones keep the noise level down and give Mom and Dad a quiet ride. 

The type of headphones you use depends upon the age of your child. Younger children may prefer CozyPhones headphones that are more comfortable and provide a lower volume level to protect their hearing. 

Older kids may choose wireless headphones that are comfortable for smaller heads. Most kid-friendly headphones come in fun designs and colors that your kids will love.

9. Try Audiobooks

Child with headphones in a car.
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Try downloading a kid-friendly audiobook for your family to listen to on the road. Keep the whole family entertained while taking a break from the screens. Audiobooks are also an excellent alternative for kids who get motion sick when reading in the car.

You can download audiobooks via Audible before your trip. The whole family can enjoy kid-friendly books like Matilda39 CluesHarry PotterHow to Train Your DragonStuart Little, and the Wayside School Collection.

10. Stock Up On Screen-Free Activities Before You Go

People playing cards in the car.
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Pack an assortment of screen-free activities to keep kids entertained. Kids have short attention spans, so pack a variety of activities to keep little ones busy. 

Use a seat-back organizer or travel tray to store your child's activities and snacks. 

Choosing screen-free activities that are age-appropriate and will not cause car sickness is essential. Consider items like Water Wowsticker books, toy cars, dolls, Crayola Color Wondersensory books, and Wikki Stix for younger children.

Give older children Mad Libssticker booksactivity bookstravel board gamescrafts, and travel journals.

11. Comfort Items

Child sleeping in the car.
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If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or blanket they need to sleep or feel safe, pack it. Traveling can be stressful for kids, so keep as many things the same as possible. 

Pack extra comfort items like pacifiers and blankets to help little ones feel settled and hopefully sleep in the car.

12. Pack A Surprise

Kids looking in a box.
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Pack surprise goody bags for your kids to open throughout your trip. The goody bags can be little treats like candy, small toys, a new coloring book, or a game

Kids will love opening a surprise gift that can double as a souvenir from your trip.

13. Plan Your Breaks

Family selfie road trip.
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Little ones need frequent breaks to use the bathroom and burn off energy, so plan stops along your route that fulfills multiple needs. 

Choose rest areas where kids run around and use the restroom or stop for lunch near a playground. 

Find exciting locations that give everyone a break from long hours in the car along your route.

14. What to Pack to Prep for Any Emergency

Family on a road trip.
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Have all of your emergency items easily accessible. For example, put your car, health, and emergency phone numbers together. You must know who to contact if you have car trouble or get into an accident.

Use a car document organizer to keep all of your important papers together.

Ensure your car has a first aid kit to treat pain, swelling, cuts, scrapes, and burns.

Additionally, ensure you have a roadside emergency kit available if you get a flat tire or dead battery.

15. Be Flexible

Girl with hat in a car.
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No matter how well you plan, things won't always go as expected, so be flexible. Kids will have meltdowns; potty accidents may happen; traffic or other unexpected delays can occur.=. 

Be flexible and adjust your plans accordingly. Maintaining a positive attitude will lessen the stress of traveling, especially when plans go awry.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks Travel.