Preparing for a Roadtrip with Kids

Growing up in a large family, we didn’t do a ton of fancy vacations. In fact, I can’t remember one. My parents idea of a vacation was driving hundreds of miles from Washington to Alaska to look at scenery while camping in the barren wilderness along the way. (Yay. πŸ˜‰ )

Ezra Jeffrey

Some of my fondest vacation memories included dropping my pants in sub-zero temperatures to pee on the side of the road, eating peanut butter and jelly on hotdog buns, and rolling down our windows to take pictures of moose, bears, and totem poles.

Granted, viewing the Northern Lights in their splendor and seeing enormous glaciers with the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and mirrored waters was pretty amazing. But as a child, it felt like the road trip that would never end.

It makes me laugh now, because it is just not a site you would see anymore…a wooden-paneled station wagon cram-packed with food, camping supplies, kids… And just in case that wasn’t enough to behold, throw a canoe on top!

Now that I’m an adult, I cherish the highlight reel of roasting hotdogs under the stars, and sitting in the canoe being surrounded by beauty. I see the gifts of those long family road trips.

As a parent though, I have no idea what my parents were thinking. Two hours in a car with my three kids is enough to show me my limitations… I can’t image two weeks. πŸ˜‰

Perhaps its the planner in me or a piece of that girl looking out the window at drooling elk that makes we want to PREPARE for road trips. I know I can’t eliminate all boredom, sibling quarrels, and crying, but here are a few things that make me feel a little more confident before pulling out of the driveway…




Here are some great wholesome entertainment options that can keep your little people preoccupied.

  • Adventure in Odyssey– a family-fun audio drama. Each episode is thirty minutes and contains a moral lesson presented in an exciting way.
  • Airshipgenesis Summer Blast– an online VBS audio drama for kids that can be listened to from any device. It also has a kid-friendly site with additional activities and games.
  • Right Now Media Kidz- the “Christian Netflix”. It has a whole kids section filled with wholesome kid-cartoons and videos.
  • Quiet Books- These are busy books designed for smaller kids that provides them with entertainment while letting them explore and learn. You can purchase one or make one.
  • Ipod of Music- Load all your kids favorite music on a media player or iPod so you can just plug it into the car or let them listen to it individually.Β 
  • Joke telling and joke books
  • Cheap travel games
  • Pretend Passports- You can get a free printable one HERE as well as, some other fun travel printables.




When you are traveling, kids LIVE for snacks (at least mine do). You can pre-make individual bags for each child or have an organized cooler between the seats. Here are a few healthy options:

Annie Spratt
  • Fruit (grapes, berries, orange slices, bananas)
  • Veggies (carrots, celery, cauliflower, cucumbers)
  • Dried fruit (raisin boxes or banana chips)
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews)
  • Cheese
  • Homemade fruit rollups
  • trail mix
  • Applesauce pouches




A little incentive can go a long way. It might help curb some of the sibling tension as well as the beloved question “How much longer???”. Β πŸ˜‰

Thomas Malama
  • Roll of Quarters: Give each child a roll of quarters as their spending money. Every time they ask β€œAre we almost there yet?” or fight with their siblings take one away. πŸ˜‰
  • Car Bucks: make your own or grab a handful from your Monopoly game. They can earn dibs on dinner choice, spending money, or a sweet treat.
  • Travel Bag Surprises: fill brown paper bags with small prizes or goodies for each stop along the way. It gives them something to look forward to, while giving the parents a little leverage.Β 


Pit Stop Fun


As adults, we tend to be about the destination, but kids are looking for the adventure in every moment. It’s ok to take a long lunch, visit a historical site, or have fun at a rest area. If you are intentional with your time it will be enjoyable for the whole family.

  • Do relay races
  • Run laps
  • skip rocks
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a picnic
  • Go into a shop and pick up a souvenir
  • Check out a local tourist site



Alright, if you’ve made it through my exhaustive list of survival tips, please share with me what works for you! Haha…I am always open to new ideas and if you’ve got a good one, I’d love to hear it!! πŸ™‚

How do youΒ like to prepare for road trips?

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  1. I’ll use this and I sent the link to a few of my friends with small children to help with ideas for the holidays. Thanks so much.
    For teens and even adults to read on Kindles, I recommend ‘The Heavenly Road Trip,’ 4 easy to read short stories. See here-

  2. We tend to fly rather than do road trips, but most of our flights are long-haul and most are on budget airlines that don’t provide food or entertainment. Over the years I’ve learned to just relax and stress less. Our first long flight with a baby, I went overboard creating little bags of goodies (snacks, toys, activities, etc.) and she was quite content without any of that. Over the years I’ve learned the magic combination is snacks + screens = happy kids.

    A tip for any parents who are flying: Most people understand that kids aren’t always great at flying. If you at least pretend that you’re trying to keep your kids well-behaved, most people will give you a great deal of leeway. But if you sit there reading magazines while your kids run rampant, screaming and hollering up and down the aisles and kicking the backs of seats (ahem, mom on that Fiji Air flight two years ago) we really will all hate you. You have to at least pretend to care.

  3. These are good ideas! I think an attitude shift the most important survival tip; you’re right that adults are about the destination – and also the trip length. Accepting that it’ll take longer than expected is step #1 to an enjoyable trip. It works for us to plan for a longer trip and to do something fun as a pit stop if possible.

    My kids like the Melissa and Doug water marker coloring books, as well as good old coloring books and crayons. Just this last trip (usually we do 7h trips to my parents, but 2 weeks ago we drove from NJ to Toronto with a stopover in Syracuse along the way – which my nearly-4yo loved best because she could play in our hotel room as a special “castle-like” room), I made a car tray for my toddler using a homemade “pillow” (a few of those packing air bags taped together) in an old pillowcase glued to the bottom of a small baking sheet (8×13 I think?). She was able to do a lot with that! She could’ve done a small puzzle, too, but she didn’t want to. That’s a keeper!!

    We always pack a lunch for the kids and us (sandwiches, carrot sticks, string cheese, and apples, that kind of thing). Sometimes we eat in the car, but doing a picnic on the grass at a rest stop would be great, too.

    Side note: I perfected my ability to do standing diaper changes on my kids thanks to road trips!!!! πŸ˜‰ Happy travels!

    1. Haha! Standing diaper changes! What a talent! btw, you’re a genius! I’m going to have to use your homemade car tray idea! and Coloring! of course, why didn’t I think of that??? πŸ™‚

  4. To this day our munchkins still love listening to adventures in Odyssey. I think every parent should buy this series. My husband grew up listening to it as well.

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