Long car rides do not make for happy kids! Trust me, I know because I have a 6 yr. old who does not enjoy road trippin’!  With a few road trips planned through out this summer all the way to the end of the year I set out to ask all my mommy friends, and family for their best tip or advice for road tripping with kids!

Of all of the tips, advice, and words of wisdom these amazing moms shared with me one really struck a chord, and holds much truth to it. Not to say that all of the tips were amazing but her words helps me better understand my child.

Leanna tells me,  “This is probably not what people want to hear, but some kids are just better travelers than others. One of my kids was a fussy traveler from the get go, while the other has always been very easygoing. Know your child, and plan accordingly!” 

I really never thought of my fussy kid as the one that wasn’t a better traveler. Here’s another clear example of the opposite of my fussy traveler from Mom Alleyah, Renee and Kami. Eolia  on the other hand shares the opposite of joyful travelers.  

Alleyah says, “For some reason my little ones love to ride! They just look out the window at all the trees. They will fall asleep for a little while, wake back up and look at the trees again! Lol. When I stop for gas we let them stretch their legs, bathroom, snack and hit the road again. We sing and dance in the car sometimes, too!” 

Renee adds to Alleyah’s comment,  “Toby was like that when he was a small child. Even when Jared was an infant/baby, Toby would ask to go for rides lol, so we’d hop in the car and go, and ride for at least an hour or so.”

Kami’s experience has been similar as well.   “We took a 3 hour car trip last summer and Zahir was knocked out as soon as we hit the highway and Jayvyn loves staying awake looking out the window. When we bused to NY earlier this year, it was pretty much the same thing. Zahir got a bit antsy toward the end, though, and I told him to look out at the sights.”

Eolia’s experience just comes to show us that babies as little as 6 months old can also be a fussy traveler. It’s not just the older kids like mine.  She shares with us,  “When my son was 6 months old, we had to travel from Paris (France) to Bern (Switzerland). Usually, he dropped asleep in the car when we were on the highway and was rather okay with travelling… Well, that time, he did sleep a bit, and after that he cried the whole way to our destination (like for 300km!). We stopped many times, to change him, feed him, play a bit, get out of his car-seat, etc. Nothing worked! As soon as we were back on the road, he was crying again. It was awful but we couldn’t just stop on the side of the road for hours and not arrive at my in-laws’ house! When we did arrive, three hours later than anticipated, he calmed down in his grand-ma’s arms and went to sleep. We prayed the whole week of our holidays that it wouldn’t be the same on the way back. We were lucky, he was more “happy” that time.” 

Any who, here are your best tips for road trippin’ with kids from experienced mamas. These are in no specific order.

#1 Travel at night

Moms Silvia and Elizabeth both seem to agree on this!  Who ever can pull an all-nighter is more than welcome to use this strategy. I for one, can’t drive at night… I’m an early bird, and driving at night is not an option for us.  However, it has worked for these two mamas!

Silvia says, “Leave late in the middle of the nite. While he is sleeping.” While Elizabeth says, “Drive At Night while he sleeps! Works all the time.” 

#2 Electronics

I know we’ve heard tons of times limit “screen time” to include computer, laptops, tablets, TV’s and cell phones; but when you’re traveling this is what these moms had to say: Tasha, Julis, and Graciela share these tips on electronics:

Tasha says, “We have tablets and video’s that they watch and play. Jasper reads books most of the time.” 

Graciela says,  “Snacks, books, a laptop and headset with Y splitter cable to plug in TWO headsets to watch a movie…small pillows and PLAN to stop every 2.5 hours to run, stretch (the entire family!)” 

Julis says,  “Have video player with movies and shows he loves to watch. 

#3 Crafts and activities

Julis also shares, “Bring crafts to do in the car. Active things that include gluing, cutting, coloring. Construction paper so he can draw you landscapes of what he sees while your driving. Keep his creative juices going and he won’t focus on the length of the trip. I love you guys. Have a great trip!”

Renee says,  “I have fidget mats for both boys, a grocery basket full of finger puppets, books, coloring books, crayons, small toys, etc..”
Fidget mats picture courtesy of Renee

Frances M.,  “We packed activities that the boys don’t typically engage in – so as to make it more enticing. Coloring books, sketch pads & colored pencils, mazes, Boys Life Magazine, fun music CD’s such as Mr. “S” on iTunes, and The Beatles-Yellow Submarine Soundtrack, kids’ maps of the states we were driving through with trivia questions about the respective state, children’s audio books, Children’s Encyclopedia of Star Wars and Legos, and 80’s music CD’s that my husband and I liked to listen to and don’t listen to anymore. These were great for telling our kids amusing stories about our teenage years. We had packed some travel games, but never got to them.”

Marianna , “Here is something that has come in super handy on the 12-day road trip we are currently on. It’s just a plastic container with little knick knacks and a whole bunch of colored beads. We give it to my daughter in the back and we play I Spy or we ask her to find certain objects. Great for language development too!”

Photo courtesy of Marianna.

One of the things that I myself enjoy doing for little one for our road trips are the busy boxes! It keeps him busy and entertained from the long hours on the road.  

Olga shares her tips with a toddler. “Stickers, stickers and some more stickers! And snacks, snacks snacks. You could add kid’s magazines bought on each stop, audio books if they’re into listening. New toys (but soft), singing and loads of conversations. When we were going for Christmas (1600km) I made a photo book of all relatives my daughter would meet.

#4 Snacks

Frances M. shares this tip, “They enjoyed some special snacks in the car and we stopped for ice cream to reward them! We also, chose some exciting, local restaurants that they will never forget. One of our favorite was Flo’s Kitchen in Wilson, North Carolina.” 

#5 Frequent stops

Frances M., “I have not posted anything about road trips on my blog, but we took our first road trip from NYC to Orlando, Florida in April with our 6-1/2 and 8-1/2 year old boys. The first day, we were on the road for 12 hours (including lunch and dinner stops). The second day was only 6 hours. I was expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised.”

Mandy wrote this wonderful post on five Unconventional Pit Stops  one of them a library!  Who would have thought? This is really  thinking outside the box when making your stops. 

#6 Map your trip

Becky wrote a post on using Google maps to your map your kids trip! This gives the kids a sense of direction on where they’re headed to.  

Annabelle shared a post of her on how to create a travel journal for your children. This is bound to keep them busy, and excited!  

Speaking of maps Carrie shares how she uses Cat in the Hat’s Let’s go on an Adventure; and a map using landmark pictures for her little one. 

#7 Play games

If you’re a multilingual family like Anna‘s  play a game of “I Spy with My Little Russian Eyes.”  A great language learning opportunity for little ones on long road trips. You can also try a variation in another language. 

Renee shares “We will sometimes play an ABC game (find the letters of the alphabet on signs and license plates lol).”  

#8 Comfort

My sister Diana also concurs with all of the above tips to include, “Bring tons of books, activities, snacks, frequent bathroom stops & iPad charger in the car. DVD player too! This for trips we made in less 4 hours. Haven’t done longer! Sing alongs… Censor crazy adult songs lyrics can be crazy coming out of your kids mouths lol Sis, don’t forget blankets pillows and change of clothes. Also paper towels, wipes and grocery bags to put garbage for messy snacks.

Frances M. shares, “They took naps every now and then and they also enjoyed the scenery for a good portion of the trip. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Aysh shares a post on how carseats can have an impact on how your car trip goes, and how to end the struggle with a fussy traveler who will not stay in his/her carseat.  

#9 Plan & prepare accordingly

The planner in me is always planning and preparing.  Make sure you have a first-aid kit in your car, plan an itinerary, and a very important keep extra “cash” for unexpected emergencies! Nothing more scary to have a limited budget when traveling, and an emergency comes up. 

We never quite think about accidents but Olga had a very scary experience, and warns us! Olga, “As I am just few weeks after quite scary car accident I have to add a warning: no hard objects inside the car, not worth it!”  

#10 Enjoy yourselves

MaryAnne shares a wonderful post on how to survive and really, really enjoy a road trip with your kids. Meanwhile, Sheila offers a wonderful alternative to road trip activities spreading kindness where ever they go with her Acts of Kindness Road Trip: Kindness Quest

I usually don’t have much time to blog about our road trips because I’m too busy road trippin’ with the family. However, you can check out our road trip to East/Central Florida from last year.

Where ever your family road trip takes you, enjoy it! Kids grow too fast, and these are the memories that you will always cherish!

Thank you to all of the mamas who shared their experiences, tips and suggestions for an awesome road trippin’ experience.

Happy road trippin’ ya’ll.  (Yes, that’s the Southern in me! Ha!)

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  1. Some great tips here. I've been road tripping my whole life first as a kid across India and in the Himalayas many times and now as a parent driving our kids across Europe several times a year. When I was a kid there weren't any safety laws about kids in special seats etc and we used to make a den in the boot of an estate car (trunk of a station-wagon for Americans!!) and play with a huge box of lego for hours. Crazy that we never had an accident! Nowadays my boys read, sleep, watch videos, play word games and simply look out of the window. They love it.

  2. This looks like a great set of tips. We haven't done any road trips of more than two hours or so with our two year old son for about a year. We also find that snacks and frequent stops are really helpful (both for us and our son!).


  3. Among the things that I myself take pleasure in doing with regard to little one for the road excursions are the occupied boxes! This keeps your pet busy as well as entertained through the long hours on the highway.

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