Are you getting ready for a road trip with kids? Make your family vacation better with these clever road trip tips & hacks. Don’t just survive your next road trip enjoy it with these simple to follow travel tips!
Use our road trip planner to prepare for traveling with kids. Then find fun games to play in the car, travel snacks, the best travel accessories, smart travel apps, and general road trip hacks to just make life easier.
These mom-tested travel tips are sure to give you a stress-free and fun family road trip.
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15 Road Trip Tips to Survive Family Vacation
We all know that kids being hungry equals super crabby kids. Avoid this by bringing snacks they will enjoy eating while you drive.
I try to mix it up with something healthy and then some fun snacks cause hey, you’re on vacation, let them eat a few too many fruit snacks.
I usually pack a box of snacks I keep in the trunk but found a fun way for the kids to keep a few in the car seat next to them.
You know those plastic containers for wipe boxes you get with all those packages of wipes you buy? They are a perfect size container for car snacks.
Let the kids decorate them before you leave with stickers to get excited about the trip or give them stickers to decorate the box in the car.
The best part you can regulate their snacks but they feel like they get a choice in what they eat. It’s a win win.
Fast Food Stops
Most likely on a driving trip at some point, you will stop at a fast-food drive-through. So how do you feed the kids without it all spilling all over the car?
First tip: How to not spill the drinks without tops like the milk at McDonald’s. I bring with Sippy cups or water bottles with tops and pour the milk in to prevent spilling. No one needs the smell of spilled milk on a long car trip.
Second Tip: Now how do the kids balance all their food without spilling? I have found two ways to prevent this. One, buy a shower caddy from the dollar store to hold their food on their laps.
Or two, what we personally like the best are these travel trays we bought off of Amazon a couple of years ago. I even use them on short car trips if we head to a drive-through fast-food restaurant.
These trays also work great for the kid’s travel activities such as drawing, playing games, or even watching the iPad.
Keep your car clean
So, now the kids have eaten and want to hand you all of their garbage. It drives me crazy to constantly be taking trash from them the whole trip. How to fix this, give the kids their own garbage can in the backseat.
Take a plastic cereal container that has a flip-top opening and put a grocery store bag in it. This is small enough to fit in the seat and has a top so the garbage doesn’t spill all over. When you stop to get gas, throw out the bag add a new one. Easy Pease!
Don’t want to make your own garbage can? Try this cool garbage container. It has a clip strap to attach it to a front car seat or center console in your car. It would be great strapped around the middle seat of a minivan too.
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Ever notice how dirty the cup holders in your car get? Crumbs and water from condensation on your drink just make a mess. This area can be so hard to clean.
The first thing not to forget is the chargers for all your phones and devices. I would also purchase a car charger that would work for the individual devices you are bringing on the trip.
No parent wants to hear the crying and drama when the iPad, games, or DVD player dies.
Second, if you have any devices that need batteries, don’t forget to bring extra batteries. One year we forgot and the kid’s wireless headphones stopped working. We had to listen to their crazy cartoons for miles. Keep your sanity and pack extra batteries and chargers.
We also found this cool Yoofan kick mat that holds your kid’s iPad and extra stuff like books. It made it easier for them to watch their shows and kept things more organized in the car.
I love adding road trip apps to my phone while traveling. There are so many great apps to help you find hotels along your route, restaurants to stop at, and the best route to take when driving.
Check out our list of the top Free Road Trip Apps you’ll need on your next drive. If your traveling with kids or someone with food allergies make sure to get the app that finds restaurants along each exit. It’s a game-changer.
Dropping Their Toys
Another frustration on car trips is all the dropped toys on the car floor.
Instead of having to bend and stretch your arm around the back seat to pick them up, bring a toy claw. The kids will have fun using it and it saves your arm from bending the wrong way.
First Aid Kit
Buy or make a small first aid kit to throw in your car for those random cuts or scratches they somehow get while sitting strapped in a car. I really never understand how that happens but extra band-aids help.
Also if you have a child who gets car sick don’t forget some extra bags to give them when they’re nauseous. This might also be a great use of a second cereal container with a bag,
Busy Bags are a great way to keep the car trip exciting. I know this takes a little extra planning and work but it is worth it for a smooth car trip. I buy some brown paper bags and put one fun little item in each.
These could be a small little toy, a new card game, or a new box of crayons and coloring books. I scour dollar tree to find a bunch of fun cheap items to fill their bags.
Deciding how often to give out these bags depends on how many bags you make and the length of your trip. You can also use them as motivation for good behavior on the trip.
No whining in an hour, you get to open another bag. It is amazing what a little motivation/bribery can do to make a great trip.
Find more ideas for Busy Bags and entertaining your kids on the drive in the Best Road Trip Games at Dollar Tree. Fun & cheap travel activities to keep kids busy the whole drive.
Activity Box Filled with Games
Stay organized on your road trip with a storage bin for all your kid’s car activities.
I bought a medium size bin that would fit in the middle seat between my kids. Whatever they want to bring on the trip needs to fit in that bin or the one backpack they each get to bring.
The bin will help keep things organized and from flying all over the place while we drive. It also works as a tablespace for them to play games together.
When you get to the hotel just bring the box in and the kids have toys for the hotel room too. Here’s another bin option if you’d rather an open box.
Travel Gadgets, Games & Activities
Save some money by shopping at Dollar Tree for these family-friendly travel accessories and road trip games. The best part when you lose them on the trip you only spent $1.
Don’t have time to shop? Use our favorite travel games, gadgets & activities from Amazon. Find neck rests, ways to mount your iPad, magnetic travel games, crafts for the car and more.
More Road Trip Tips
Want to keep your kid’s feet from dangling and just all-around more comfortable on the ride? Put one of the bags you packed below their feet so they can use it as a footrest.
You have been in the car for hours and the kids just need to get out and run. Take advantage of all the rest stops you see along the highways. Pack a soccer ball, bubbles to run after, or even a jump rope, anything to get them moving for a little bit.
It’s a great, free way to stretch the kid’s legs and give all of you a break from driving.
Can’t find a rest stop where you’re driving? Look for a fast-food restaurant with a playland. Stop for a meal or even just an ice cream treat. Let the kids get that energy out climbing in the playland.
A half-hour stop might set you back a little, but the kids and you will be much happier.
Here is an example of some of these active toys. I picked the dodge balls because they can inflate and deflate easily with the included pump. It’s great when you have a packed car with no space or if you want to throw them in a suitcase when you fly.
I have included adjustable jump ropes for your child’s height and bubbles. However, I also found these items at the dollar store if you have time to shop.
Saving Money on Food
A great way to save money on food is to pack a lunch for everyone. Use your break time at the rest stop to also eat your lunch.
Most rest stops have picnic tables to eat at and restrooms to use. The kids can eat and run around at the same stop. If you stopped to order food it would take you just as long and this way the kids can get all that energy out
Movies and Music
Need some new movies for the trip but you don’t want to buy a bunch of new DVDs? Check out a few movies from your local library. Often times you can even download books and movies to your tablet from your local library for free.
Picking out movies to watch can be another fun way for your kids to get excited about the trip ahead of time.
If you have Netflix or Dinsey + you can download shows to the kid’s iPads before you leave and they’ll work without wifi.
Need some fun music? We like to listen to Kids Bop CDs because they have fun songs you hear on the radio but a clean version we can all listen to. Who doesn’t love a road trip with the whole family signing?
Once you arrive at your destination make staying in a hotel easier with our Genius Family Hotel Hacks. How to baby proof your room, clean, eat, keep the sun out, play in your hotel room, and more. Simple travel tips for your hotel stay.
If you’re not staying at a hotel don’t drag all your baby gear to your friend’s or family’s homes. Have it delivered to you by Baby Quip.
Our favorite travel hack that was featured on Shark Tank and has all the baby gear you need professionally cleaned and delivered to anywhere you stay.
So stop packing your strollers, pack n plays, high chairs, or car seats, and make your life easier by having them delivered by Baby Quip.
Finding your parking spot
Last and final tip: Are you headed to a large amusement park like Disney or maybe a big national park?
Whenever you park in a large parking lot with lots of cars, take a picture on your phone of your parking area so you remember where you parked. It’s a quick easy thing to do and a huge help when you’re all exhausted on your way home for the day.
I hope these road trip tips and games to play in the car will help make traveling with the kids easier on your next family vacation! If you need more travel tips or destination ideas visit our Family Travel Page.
I would love to hear any great tips you have found for road trips or any questions you may have. Please share your ideas in the comments section below.
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