Planning for a road trip so you don’t lose your mind isn’t impossible! This week we went on our first road trip vacation of more than 4 hours. If I am completely honest I was very nervous. Will my 4-year-old and 7-year-old get bored and drive me crazy? I decided preparation was going to be my survival mode. I decided to head to the dollar store and see what kind of ideas I could find to keep the kids happy for an extended trip. Here are some of my favorites for planning for a road trip.
Planning for a Road Trip with Young Kids
Keep it organized
The dollar store had many great baskets with handles that are great for holding all of your vacation items for your child. I put together a basket for each child. This helped because they are able to get to all of their items without asking me every few minutes. You can also get letter decals at the dollar store if you want to personalize their baskets to better fit each child.
What did you put in the baskets?
- Cups – Cups like the one above are great. You can put snacks in the bottom portion and fill the top with a drink. If you don’t want to do a cup, you could do individual water bottles so that they can drink what you want.
- Coloring Books/Crayons – Don’t underestimate the power of a good coloring book. You can find many characters at the dollar store and stuff your basket well. I recommend spending a bit extra and buying Crayola brand crayons instead of the dollar store version as the dollar store ones are not of the same quality.
- Binoculars – Children love to explore their world. Give them some binoculars to add some fun to the road trip. They will really enjoy being able to see things that are far away. It also adds a fun way to play spot the license plate or find something fun on the roadside.
- Breakfast – We traveled early in the morning. Because of that, I knew the kids would wake up early. I also knew that breakfast may not be nearby. I packed some breakfast items in their basket so that we wouldn’t have to worry about rushing to stop somewhere. Make sure to pack items that are easy for them to open so that they don’t have to pass things forward while you are driving.
- Snacks – Adding snacks to the basket will make it your child doesn’t do the dreaded, “I’m hungry.” It helps to pick snacks that are easy to open or that won’t spill all over them. The snacks will be a big help when you are on a long empty stretch of road.
- Juice Boxes – These are a great option to have when you don’t have the ability to fill cups on the road. We love adding some 100% apple juice boxes to our baskets.
- Headphones/Tablets/Devices – If your child plays the Leap Pad, Ds, Kindle Fire Kids, or any other device make sure to put these in the basket. You will want them at some point in your road trip. Make sure to add headphones so that your car is not a symphony of many different devices. Car chargers for these are also a big help. You don’t want to get stuck without battery.
- Outside of the basket – There was one item I picked up that wasn’t in the basket. I picked up a giant drawing pad. This is perfect for artwork or writing a great road trip scavenger hunt list.
- Create a road trip binder – Tip from Detail Oriented Traveler “We take a lot of road trips. In fact, I actually love the interstate. Sometimes it’s an hour away in Florida, others, 1200 miles to Michigan. Whenever we’re going to be on the road for over a few hours, I create a road trip binder for the kids. Now that they are older, they help make it awesome.”
I also put together the fun roadtrip bingo printable you can find by clicking the link above. Roadtrip bingo is another fun way to keep kids entertained on a long road trip.
Pack for the adults
Because I knew I would be in the car for a long time with the hubby I decided to put together a basket for he and I. It really was helpful.
- Crosswords/Word Searches – These are great for a long road trip. It’s a good way to engage the mind and have something to do when you are in the passenger seat.
- Backup Snacks and Juice Boxes – You will need backups if the kids run out. You may also get hungry and decide you need crackers or a granola bar. I highly recommend a hard candy of some sort as it feeds the need for a snack without endless car munching. I am a huge fan of dried fruit as well. It’s a fun treat without tons of sugar.
- Baby Wipes – Let’s be honest, kids get messy! Make sure to plan for that occasion by having a pack of wipes on hand. I know that we’ve had our fair share of stinky fingers that needed a cleanup. They are also helpful if your child is doing anything with a dry erase marker.
- Tissue – Climate changes can sometimes affect your sinuses. Make sure to have tissues with you. It may not hurt to also have an allergy medication or sinus medication for you in case you get the sniffles.
- Medications – Do you get car sick? Pack the Dramamine. What about a headache? Pack your pain relievers. Having things on hand will save you from spending more at a drug store or gas station on the road. I also recommend bringing some Immodium with you just in case.
- Essential Oils – As you may know I am a huge advocate for essential oils. Having items such as Lavender for sinus issues, peppermint for car sickness or headache, and stress away for when your neck gets tense are all great to have on hand.
- Extra crayons, markers, and paper. – Kids will use up and drop things all the time. Instead of pulling over, plan to bring it along in your parent basket so you can just pass the solution back to your kids and keep driving.
- Chargers – You will have to charge phones, gaming devices, and many other items. Save time by having all of these items in your baskets.
Looking for more travel tips?
How to plan a road trip with kids from Y Travel
“We rate doing a road trip with kids as highly enjoyable and memorable travel experience. But we understand the thought of being in a confined space with your kids, especially toddlers, is frightening! Don’t worry, in this road trips planning guide we are here to show you how to plan a road trip with kids so you preserve your sanity and have an amazing adventure!”
How to plan an epic road trip from Traveling Mom
“Family road trips are making a comeback. As the USA begins to reawaken and families start to contemplate their next family vacation, most are turning to road trips. This road trip planner covers all the basics — where to go, what to pack, how to choose the right destination and stops along the way. And, perhaps most important, what snacks to bring along. Because how can you have a great road trip without great snacks?”
Planning a Cross Country Road Trip on a Budget from Exploration America
“My family is no stranger to long road trips. Our average family road trip is typically 1000-4000 miles in about 1-2 weeks of time. In fact, in just 10 years I’ve put on over 150,000 miles on our minivan! But I had a difficult time finding resources for families in a minivan traveling a great distance, let’s say, 7000 miles! Frugal budget, no RV or fancy hotels – just straight up wanting to see the world and make incredible memories without being overly extravagant. Our family of 5 typically spends under $1000 per week on the road including everything – lodging, food, gas, souvenirs, attractions, etc”
Best Family Road Trips in the U.S. from Family Vacationist
“Combining our love of the automobile with our affinity for wide open spaces (not to mention quirky roadside attractions), family road trips are one of the quintessential American family vacation ideas. Who doesn’t remember packing into the backseat of the family car and venturing out on that time-honored family tradition that’s as much about the journey as the destination?”