I love road tripping! With kids? Not so much. From constant fighting, too many bathroom breaks, and 500 questions of “Are we there yet?” it’s just more than I want to handle sometimes.
But there are so many great things about road trips, even with kids, that I wish I had more opportunities to travel with my little ones! If your kids are like mine, all the DVD players, iPods and iPads in the world are not enough to keep them busy on a 16+ hour road trip.
So this year, we are once again heading out on a road trip. We took last year off and didn’t travel anywhere. And we’re plus another kid this go-round. So here is my list of must haves for a long road trip. I tried so many new things and my kids loved all of them, which means, I loved all of them!
If there is definitely one thing you need on a road trip, its snacks! Here is a great way to keep snacks together without the kids fighting over the last kind of a particular snack. I saved some extra baby wipe boxes to make these easy little snack containers. I put each kids name on them and divided the snacks up for each one. And then when we made stops, if items needed to be refilled, it was easy to grab and put more snacks inside. These worked brilliantly!
All those snacks create a lot of trash. And what better place to put it all than this little device. We have tried so many different trash ideas in the past and this one worked the best. You take a cereal container, put a grocery bag inside and once its full, you pull it out and replace it with a new bag. My kids love to eat snack and either throw the trash on the floor of the car or stuff it between the seats…ugh. What a mess. It was nice that most of our trash made it into the trash can this trip!
Blankets & Stuffies/Pillows
Blankets and pillows are a must as well. They just add a little comfort to the car that help make traveling a little easier on little ones. Our kids have stuffs, which are big stuffed animals that are soft enough to work as a pillow. We never go on a trip, long or short, without them!
Cookie Sheet Tray
Since my kids are bored after watching an hour worth of shows or DVDS, activities on a road trip are necessary. But it’s a challenge to do activities in the car sometimes. 98 cent cookie sheets to the rescue! These worked amazingly well. I decided to spray paint them and then used Mod Podge to decorate them specific for each kid. Once again, it eliminates fighting over a tray when you need it. There are so many things you can use these for. I went to the Dollar Tree and picked up some little puzzles and put magnets on the back. That way you can put the puzzle together and not lose the pieces in the car. We also took our Magformers on the trip and realized after 10 minutes that we didn’t have nearly enough! These also worked great to eat their snacks on, write, color or play other games on. Love these!
These were fast and easy to make and then you don’t have tons of extra paper waste. Less than $2 to make these and totally worth it. All I did was use a Sharpie to draw the board on one piece of felt and then cut out circles in opposite colors for the x’s and o’s.
Boxes of Activities
I decided to empty out a few of our foldable fabric bins to use on our trip to put kids activities into. It kept them separate from each other and easier to keep everything in one place. We took lace and trace boards, markers, coloring books, magnetic doll sets, and other small activities to keep them busy. I even decided to buy LCD Writing Tablets for the kids to use on the trip. And I also included some books, toys for baby sis, and travel games.
This is something new I tried, hoping to keep the kids from thinking the trip was taking as long as it was to get there. Ha! Didn’t exactly work that way. I planned enough bags for the trip out to have about 1 bag per hour, but no sooner did we get one open than someone would ask: when are we opening the next one? Is it Christmas? Did I miss something? Not sure I would do this again, but I do think it worked great for our family this time. Mostly they got a new sugary treat every hour, but I did invest in some new car activities and most were a hit. The best thing I invested in was the Melissa & Doug Water Wow activity pads. These kept our 3 girls busy for at least 3 hours of our 16-hour journey. The worst thing – they don’t hold enough water so you have to constantly refill them. The trash can sure came in handy when it was time to refill as spilling extra water all over the car would have been a huge killer for these.
Some other great ideas we had for the trip … we never leave home without our potty chair if we are going on a trip of more than 4 hours. It never fails that 10 minutes after we’ve made a stop, one of the little ones has to go to the bathroom again. We always make sure we leave enough space for our potty chair 🙂 We play car games, like car bingo, the ABC game, 20 questions, I spy, and the license plate game. We also enjoy reading chapter books while driving.
Road trips for us are fun and important family bonding time. These things helped our kids handle the trip so much better this time! Give me a few weeks to regroup and I’d be ready to hit the road again!
What are your must haves for a road trip with kids?