Are you planning to travel with kids? I wish it was as easy as just jumping in the car and going, but with kids you have to be prepared. We take an annual 14-hour road trip with all three kids and it can get stressful. A little planning will keep parents sane during the long drive and travel time. From keeping them entertained, fed and happy, here are 15 items we always bring on our road trips.
1. Food – Kids get bored and they eat. Plan healthy snacks that are easy to eat on-the-go. I cut up bite size veggies, fruits, and make a few sandwiches. Hard boiled eggs (already peeled), cheese sticks, individual bagged chips, and granola bars are also great snack options.
2. Cooler – Bring a small cooler to keep the food cool. I freeze 5-8 water bottles overnight to use as ice packs. When they defrost during the trip we can drink the water and don’t have to lug ice packs or worry about ice melting everywhere.
3. Extra bowls or baggies – I recommend small baggies or containers to separate the food for each kid. Believe me, if they have to share a box of crackers, it will likely end up in a fight (or maybe, that’s just my 3 kids.) Plan ahead and bring extra bags or containers to serve them individual portions.
4. Drinks – It’s important to stay hydrated during a long road trip. Buy an extra case of water and keep it in the vehicle. I don’t recommend juice boxes or flavored drinks because if they spill it will be a sticky mess.
5. Music – Bring some music on CD’s or a media player to jam out during the trip. This is especially important if you are heading into radio dead zones.
6. Media (games, tablets, movies, music) – If you can, bring an electronic device for each kid to keep them entertained. Make sure to fully charge everything before the road trip. If you have portable chargers, bring those too.
7. Headphones – Unless you want to hear all the games your kids are playing and movies they are watching, make sure each child has a set of headphones.
8. Books – Grab a few of their favorite books or pick up a few new ones before the trip.
9. Road games – If you have a long trip, tablets will die eventually, so be prepared. We have done the license plate game (find plates from different states as we drive), ‘I spy’, and counting games. Here are some fun road trip Bingo & treasure hunt games you can play as a family.
10. Journal and crayons or pens – If your child enjoys art or writing, bring some extra supplies on your road trip. Just be careful with crayons, because if they are left in a hot vehicle, they will melt into a giant mess.
11. Plan rest stops – Rest stops are a must during a long trip to stretch legs and take a bathroom break. Even if a kid says they don’t have to use the bathroom, make them try anyways. Pay attention to rest stop signs while you travel. We travel I-80 through Wyoming and it can be a hundred miles before the next stop. You don’t want to miss your chance to stop.
12. Printed itinerary and directions – Google maps on a phone are amazing, but what if you hit a dead zone? Make sure to have a printout (or screenshot) of your directions.
13. Baby wipes or paper towels – Messes will happen. Be prepared. Baby wipes are my personal favorite, because they can clean sticky hands or wipe down spills. Paper towels are also a necessity.
14. Extra grocery sacks – Bring several empty grocery sacks to collect trash during the trip. This helps keep your vehicle clean.
15. Camera – Bring a camera or two on your road trip. Let your older kids capture pictures during the trip. You never know what amazing shot they may take!
Hopefully this list will prepare you for road trips with your family. What items do you always bring on road trips?