Summer of Road Trips – Surviving with Young Kids

Most vacations that involved flying are very unfortunately cancelled this Summer. But if you are like us, and the wanderlust bug isn’t going away, road tripping is an excellent option for a Summer getaway. While it is intimidating to drive 12 hours with your kids, the end result is so worth it. Keep reading for some especially awesome tips and tricks to survive the drive.


First and foremost, snacks will be your biggest lifesaver. Take time to think through snacks your kids will be especially excited for. Try out these fun ways to serve snacks that will keep your kids entertained for a longer time.

  • Cereal necklace
  • Make your own trail mix – Bring bags of different snacks (small crackers, nuts, pretzels, etc.) and let your kids create their own mix. Obviously the parent not driving will need to help with this.
  • Snack box or snack eggs – Place a bunch of different snacks in a box with many compartments or in several different plastic eggs. This is a fun way for kids to snack while giving them variety and {hopefully} taking up some time while they munch!

What to Pack

Picture is only to show the lap desk – car was not moving!
  • Small suitcase or bag – We just bought these stuffed animal rolling suitcases for our upcoming road trip. The kids will be super excited to pack a few of their own things and they will flip over the new stuffed animal to bring along.
  • Car pillow – This is a new purchase for us this time around. I hate looking back to my sweet sleeping children with their necks hanging down. I’m hoping these pillows will help keep them more comfortable.
  • Lap desk – The one pictured above is Skip Hop brand, but we are going to upgrade to the one linked because of the cupholder and side pockets. It’s so great for coloring, eating, and activities on the go. Both the one linked and the one we have straps around your child so that it won’t fall down while moving.
  • Travel potty – A must with young children! This one is great since it folds super small. It also utilizes disposable bags so you are not constantly having to wipe out a potty.
  • A ball – I like to pack a ball or something active to get the kids moving at rest stops.

Car Activities

  • Dollar store toys – Whenever we travel anywhere I always hit up the dollar store. These toys and trinkets always go a long way when you are loosing steam. To take up even more time, I wrap each toy. It makes it more fun for the kids and forces them to spend time unwrapping – especially for the younger kids.
  • Color wonder coloring books – You definitely don’t want any messy coloring happening in the car. The makers that come with these coloring books only work on the special paper.
  • Magnetic games – Anything magnetic will result in a lot less dropping pieces and a lot less stress on your back as you strain to pick them up while driving.
  • Letter magnets in tin – This is a new one we are going to try on our upcoming road trip. I’m going to put magnetic letters in a metal tin and have Ella practice letters and words with them. Maybe even pick out the starting letter of objects around her.
  • I Spy – This game is always a huge hit for us.
  • Window markers and clings – If your child is big enough to be able to reach the window, I think washable window markers and window cling stickers would be super fun.
  • What’s in the bag game – This is a great car game for babies, toddlers, and kids alike. Plan ahead by putting random objects that all feel very different in a bag. Have your child put their hand in and try to guess what the object is by feel.

Pro tip – Pack all of your activities in different, small bags to stay organized. And if you are really crazy (like me) you could even label your bags!

If All Else Fails…

Don’t forget the devices and bribes. 🙃

  • iPad with downloads – We will most certainly be watching movies on our upcoming 12 hour road trip. The goal is just to mix in activities and snacks so we don’t watch 12 straight hours of movies. We love this headrest mount that holds your iPad/amazon tablet/phone so that both kids can watch at once since we only have one larger device. Don’t forget to download as many games and movies as possible ahead of time!
  • Lollipops – Lollipops are like the magical cure for cranky kids.
  • Bubbles – I like to pack bubbles for long trips mainly for rest stops. However, these small ones are great if you are comfortable with letting your kids use them in the car as well. Could they spill it all over their lap? Yes, of course. But they will also think you are the coolest mom in the world for letting them blow bubbles in the car and they are so small it won’t matter as much when they spill.

My final piece of advice is this – lower your expectations for how the road trip will go. Then maybe lower them a bit more. 😉 Like in all parenting, plan out the trip, but expect that things will not go exactly to plan. In the end, it will be extremely worth it because YOU WILL BE OUT OF YOUR HOUSE! Happy road tripping!!!

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