Are We There Yet? Tips for Car Travel with Kids

Car travel with children is not an adventure to be taken lightly. Whether your road trip is a two-hour jaunt or a two-week vacation, your success depends on your travel survival strategy and attitude.

Survival Strategy: Before You Go

  1. Talk to the kids about your trip. Tell them what to expect while you're on the road. Depending upon the age of your children, you may need to make them aware of safety issues and let them know where you are going. This is a good time to ask the kids if they have questions about the trip. Encourage the children to pick out some of their favorite toys to bring along.
  2. Talk to your spouse or other adult traveling companions about the impending trip. Make sure you both understand the requirements involved in traveling with children. If your spouse thinks you can drive for four hours straight and then take a break, give him or her plenty of time to get over that idea and adjust to the reality of traveling with children.
  3. Make a game out of planning roadside breaks. Refer to your maps and try to find a playground, park or place for the kids to run around at each stop. Get all of the kids out and running around. You will be glad you did when you think of how less fidgety the kids will be when they get back in the car.

Survival Strategy: You Can Never Have Too Many Snacks
Get ready to break or, at least bend, some of your rules about snacks and eating for the duration of your car trip. On a road trip, snacks are not even remotely related to nutrition or hunger but are simply treats to be doled out when necessary. The best snack for a car trip is one that takes a long time to eat.
Survival Strategy: You Can Never Pack Too Many Toys
Pack a special travel backpack for each child. Get your children involved in packing their favorite toys.

  • Babies: rattles, pop-up-toys, anything bright and new
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers: things that fit in other things (Tupperware sets), stickers and activity books, crayons and coloring books, finger puppets, small magnetic puzzles, stick-on play sets and Go Fish cards
  • Older Children: paper, pencil and markers for playing hangman, Etch-a-Sketch, comic books, fantasy cards, Legos stored in Ziploc bags, books
  • Teenagers: music/walkman, comic books, favorite magazines

Survival Strategy: Be Ready for Spills and Messes
Bring along a complete change of clothes for every person in the travel group. You never know what will spill or who will get sick. Bring baby or diaper wipes in Ziploc bags or travel packs.
Survival Strategy: Have Answers Ready
Have answers prepared for these common kid complaints:

  1. "It's not fair." Well, if you are lucky, you might make it out of the driveway before you hear this one. Try to dole out the treats and snacks evenly.
  2. "I'm bored." Get involved and play a game with the kids. See the list of best car games below.
  3. "There isn't anything to do." Tell a funny story about when that kid was a baby.

Survival Strategy: Have Fun and Play Games With the Kids!
Play car games with your kids. You'll be amazed at how much fun you can have. Here are some of the best car games:

  • Counting Cows Divide into teams. Decide on your destination for the end of the counting session. Count the cows on your side of the road. Winner has the highest number when you reach your destination.
  • Twenty Questions One player thinks of a person, place or thing. Everyone else gets to ask twenty "yes" or "no" questions to figure it out. Winner gets the next turn to think up something.
  • Scavenger Hunts Create a list of ten scavenger items: a bridge, blue car, red truck, mountain, bus, etc. The members of each team work together to find all of the items on their list. The winners get a treat.
  • Alphabet Words Find a word on a sign that begins with the letter "A" and work your way through the alphabet.
  • Geography You start any place in the world. The first player chooses the starting place, for example, "California." The next person has to name a place that starts with the last letter of the first place or in this case the last letter of California. So the next person might say, "Alaska." You may only use a place once in each game.

Remember, your kids will be telling stories about the family vacation for years to come. Give them something to talk about!


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options