Are you heading on a road trip this summer? Maybe to see some new sites or to visit family? Long road trips with kids can sound daunting, but with a few tips and tricks, you can definitely make it more enjoyable for both you and the kids and so you don’t hear “Are we there yet?” every 15 minutes. As an experienced road tripper who has traveled from Wisconsin to Utah and back a few times, here’s what we do to stay sane. Hopefully there’s something new for you to try too!
Prizes Every Hour
My first suggestion is to head to the dollar store or the dollar section of Target and buy as many car activities as you can find. Anything that your child would be able to play with in the car. Target usually has some awesome road trip activities. I’ve picked up a felt tic tac toe game, mini coloring books, stickers, books, cars, etc. Then divide your prizes into hours and put them into bags. I have 4 kids who can do activities in the car, so I have 4 prizes in each bag. I write a number on each bag with a total of how many hours we expect to be in the car that day. So for an 8 hour day, I have 8 bags of prizes. Then every hour, I open a bag and give each kid a new prize. Sometimes there’s a special treat with it too like Oreos or Fruit by the Foot or suckers. I also provide each of the kids a bigger bag to keep all their new little activities in so they don’t end up all over the car. This is a fun way to keep the kids entertained and the hours go by a little more quickly.
License Plate Game
A fun game we like to play is looking for different state license plates as we travel. This is the best when you’re going across the country or to a touristy place. You can print off your own map of the US and color in the states or put stickers on them as you see different state license plates.
Some other car games we like to play with our kids are I Spy or the rhyming game. Now bare with me, this takes a little explaining, but it’s a fun one. First think of a one syllable word that’s a noun. Let’s say the word is tree. Then you tell the rest of the players what your word rhymes with. So I could say, “The word I’m thinking of rhymes with knee.” Then each player tries to guess your word by describing the word they’re thinking of. So someone could ask, “Does it fly around and make honey?” Then the person with the word would say, “No, it’s not a bee.” Someone else could ask, “Do you use it to unlock a door?” Then the person it would say, “No, it’s not a key.” Then someone might ask, “Is it tall and green?” Then the person would say, “Yes, it’s a tree!” And the person who guessed tree would then pick the next word. We have lots of fun with this game and our 5 and 7 year old daughters are really starting to get the hang of it. Even our 4 year old can guess the word here and there.
There are some treats I reserve for very special occasions like candy, store bought cookies, fruit roll ups, etc. I like to buy a couple of these packages and have them available for the kids in the car. We also like to stop for ice cream too to make the road trip feel like a special treat.
Stop and Stretch Every Few Hours
Every few hours, we make sure to stop for a potty break and we also like to try to find a park to let the kids run around for a while to let some energy out. This usually means a little longer stop, but we found it helps them be able to sit in the car a little longer too.
Pack Lunches and Healthy Snacks
To help save on money, we like to pack our lunches before we go. And if we’re traveling 2 days in the car, we bring a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly to make sandwiches in the hotel (because who likes day old sandwiches???). We also bring lots of healthy snacks so we don’t get too overloaded with sugar from our other fun treats. This way when we stop at the park, we can also eat a picnic lunch too.
Enjoy the Journey
When we map out our road trip and look to see where we need to make stops during the day or overnight, I like to see if we’re close to anything that would be worth stopping to see. Enjoy your journey and don’t feel like to you need to rush to get to your final destination! On our last trip home from Utah to Wisconsin, we stopped at Mount Rushmore for a few hours. It was definitely worth the stop. Those Black Hills are beautiful! I loved showing our kids something new and giving them an experience on the long drive home. And now when they see pictures of Mount Rushmore, they’re quick to point out that they’ve been there.
We always use these tips when we travel with kids and it has made it so we don’t dread the drive. Hopefully these ideas can help you too for your next trip. Happy travels!
Alexis is a mom to 5 kids, entrepreneur, podcaster, and blogger. She’s loves trying new things and encouraging moms on their personal motherhood journey.
Check out her blog at www.alexistannerlane.com