Thank you to those brands who provided samples for this Road Trip with Kids article. Our collective sanity thanks you!
Going on a road trip with kids can be overwhelming for parents, particularly if your kids don’t have a lot of practice spending hours or days upon end in the car. As spring turns to summer, you’ll likely be hitting the road with millions of other parents. A poorly planned road trip can quickly turn into a nightmare. But, with the right tools, the right organization, and the right games, even a parent traveling solo with kids will be able to leave behind dramatic comments about “being trapped in the car for hours upon end” with their children.
The majority of the road trips with kids I’ve taken have not included my husband. While he does travel with us on occasion, I am usually a single parent on these road trips with kids. Whether you’re traveling with your significant other or on your own with your kids, this list of my tried and true favorite road tripping product and games will make your trip just that much more pleasant!
Road Trip With Kids: Gear & Tips to Help You Stay Sane
Safety is paramount
I think it goes without saying that safety in the car is always important. Make sure your child is properly buckled into a car seat that is appropriate for their weight and age. We were recently sent the Diono Radian RXT to review.
While it is quite hefty, it is the perfect convertible car seat for your little one. With a rear-facing weight range of 5-45 lbs, the Diono Radian RXT makes a great extended rear facing car seat (this will fit many children rear-facing until about 4 years old). Forward facing children can ride in the Diono Radian RXT until they are 80 lbs. After 80 lbs kids can continue using this seat until they are 120 lbs. Check out my YouTube review here:
Being organized will save your sanity:
Organize snacks into single serve, reusable snack bags, or stackable bento boxes the day before your trip. This is seriously one of the biggest sanity savers for me. Because I’m usually traveling without another adult passenger, I need to have everything totally organized so I can just hand my kids back their prepackaged snack. Pack all your prepackaged snacks into a car organizer that you can put on the passenger seat–if you’re the driver–or in between the driver and passenger seat.
Preempt the mess:
If you have a toddler who likes baby food or applesauce pouches, get one of these.
The Pouch Pal is a serious sanity saver and has helped me avoid many a mess on the road. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.
DVD players have completely revolutionized the way kids experience road trips. Kids now zone out to DVD’s for hours on end (my oldest two have severe car sickness issues so playing with toys while driving isn’t an option for us). This is great for the kids, but not so fun if you’re the driver with no one to talk to. If you have kids over age 5 try an audiobook to break up the monotony. So far a few of our favorites have been: Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Little House in the Big Woods, the Fablehaven series, and the Harry Potter series. To get inexpensive audiobooks, I’d suggest Audible (it comes with a free download) or rent the audiobooks from your local library.
Speaking of books…
If you have kids who don’t get car sick, consider investing in some interesting reads. If you’re heading to a national park, you definitely want to equip your kids with some of the awesome National Geographic Kids National Parks books!
We can’t wait to use our Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure and our Junior Ranger Activity books when we go to Yellowstone this summer!
Play fun car games:
After playing the alphabet game countless times on countless road trips, I’m not going to suggest that one to you. Our favorite game to play is, well, for lack of a name, we’ll call it “Story Pop”. One person begins telling a story that they’ve made up. After a minute or two they hand off the story to someone else in the car until each person gets a turn. We’ve had some pretty hilarious stories this way. If there are two adults in the car you can try something fun like Mad Libs. Also, check out this awesome list of car games for the whole family!
Get a Bubble Pods for the car:
When you’re tired of listening to what turn on the Bubble Pods portable Bluetooth speaker. This little 5 watt speaker has 360º sound, up to 12 continuous hours of play, is water resistant, and the sound quality is awesome!
When using this for the kids, simply hang the Bubble Pods by the convenient loop at the top onto the hanger hook of your car. If you’re using the Bubble Pod for yourself, in the front of the car, you can also answer and take hands-free calls with the Bubble Pod! After your road trip, the Bubble Pod will continue to be handy on picnics, hikes, and other outings.
Have a messy eater?
I know, I know. Some parents don’t allow kids to eat in the car. I’m not one of those parents. We’re in the car too often to restrict food, and I don’t want to be stopping every 2 hours for a snack and food break. Nor do I want to waste valuable travel time to always stop and eat at the restaurant.
When you’re on a road trip with kids you stop enough for the “my child has a bladder the size of a walnut” potty trips. If you’re a eat in the car family, I’d highly suggest investing in a toddler bib. The one in the picture is from IKEA, but you can also find them here. It fits right over top of your child’s 5-point harness and will prevent so many messy situations. Because who wants to be scrubbing out the car seat when you could be enjoying the beach?
Consider a Travel Tray for your kiddos:
These soft desks for the car (see above) were a LIFESAVER when I traveled by myself with my two young boys on a three-day road trip. The sides have pockets for toys, water bottles or snacks. The soft top is large enough and sturdy enough to place meals, snacks, coloring books, toys, etc., but soft enough not to post a safety hazard.
Get a grip on the sip!
This has seriously been the bane of my road trips! The toddler throws their sippy cup into some crevasse of the car, completely unreachable from the driver’s seat and won’t stop screaming until you pull off the road to retrieve the cup. After the 20th time this wears on your nerves a bit. You can rig one of your own or purchase one, but, if you have a toddler, make sure you have a sippy cup tether.
Healthful, hydrating snack: While I do try to ration the amount of liquids my kids consume in any given hour when we’re on road trips, there is one drink that is always a staple in our car. Orgain Kids protein shakes are packed with proteins and great vitamins and are organic!
My kids love them! You can find Orgain Kids Protein shakes at Costco, Sprouts, and other health food stores.
Equip the kids with their own tablet:
This is obviously an investment, but it can be a serious sanity saver. The Kids Kindle, for example, allows you to download your child’s favorite movies, shows, and games so they can play them even when they don’t have WiFi access. With expandable memory, a special kids case, and a 2 year replacement guarantee, the Kids Kindle is a smart choice for parents.
The magical intermittent treat:
This one is something I’ve started doing when on a road trip with kids, and it has had an amazing effect. It gives my older kids (who are able to tell time) something to look forward to on long car rides. Several hours into the trip when the kids are starting to get bored, I whip out some candy. This is a pretty big deal because mom doesn’t generally give them candy.
Each person gets one candy ever 1 hour or 2 hours (depending on the length of the trip)–the older two keep track down to the minute! LOL! This gives them something to look forward to that isn’t a “million hours” away. Great treats for this are little things like Starburst, gummy worms, Skittles, Mike and Ikes, etc. If you have a small toddler as well, make sure you only give treats that will not pose choking hazards.
Organization for Mom:
One of my recent favorites is my Kelly Moore Bag. It is a purse for the multi-talented want-to-be-organized mom. With plenty of pockets and inner organizer, you can pack and organize bottles, blankets, and diapers, or camera, lens, wallet, and tablet. The possibilities are endless.
Kelly Moore bags are made of sturdy, durable, vegan-friendly, water resistant material. If you’re like me and always like to have your DSLR on hand, the Kelly Moore bag is a purse you’ll want to have! Check out my YouTube review of the Kelly Moore Augusta bag here:
Hope you enjoyed these fun tips for taking a road trip with kids! If you have any awesome ideas, gear, or car hacks that make your road trips much more enjoyable, please feel free to share in a comment below!
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