ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: Survival Tips for Road Trips with Young Children

Monday, August 26, 2013

Survival Tips for Road Trips with Young Children

While I know many of you are back in the swing of the school routine, we are not quite there yet!  Our kids will hit the books next week, but this week we are still basking in the afterglow of an amazing summer vacation!  Our most recent adventure was a 22 hour road trip to Universal Orlando for the Family Forward Retreat organized by Mom It Forward.  In the next few days I would love to share some of the tricks, tips, favorites, and family memory making activities we discovered during this event.
To kick it off, we must talk about the journey  - which we all know is just as important as the destination!  

Tip #1: Explain the Route

By making the kids aware of the states we would be passing through, as well as some of the famous landmarks we would drive by, we kept them engaged in watching out their windows.  This little trick also significantly cut down on the "Are we there yet"s! In the first 10 minutes of our trip the kids colored a miniature picture of a mini van that we hung appropriate as we passed each mile maker on our route.

Tip #2: Clip Stops

Create a special clip for each of the young passengers and display them on your visor.  While in route the clips remain unless there is a problem (set appropriate boundaries with your children ahead of time as to what a "problem" will be).  If a passenger causes a disagreement on a leg of the trip, take their clip down. When you stop for gas, a bathroom break, or a meal allow each child with a clip still hanging to choose a small snack.  We designated which type of stops would be clip stops ahead of time.  We did not buy clip snacks at meal stops for our family.

Tip #3: Surprise Activities

Fill several lunch sacks with a special activity that encourages play, conversation, or creativity.  Label the bags by hour marks or time and allow the kids to open the bags as they reach those milestones.  Our bags included: How to Draw Characters instruction sheets, pipe cleaners, coloring pages,*BINGO cards, Spot It, Blink, ViewMaster, Math Mountain dice games, Comics, silly cds, and more.

Tip #4: Choose a Comfortable Vehicle

Driving a great car with comfortable seats, leg room, a moon roof for gazing, and satellite radio makes the trip much more enjoyable for everyone.  When we travel we like to rent a car from Hertz. With children on board it is also reassuring to know we won't end up stranded in our own vehicle waiting in a backwoods repair shop for hours...or days! 

Tip #5: Lap Trays

Purchase tin cookie sheets from a dollar store for each of the passengers.  These sheets come in handy for building and playing games, as well as turning into a makeshift place mat for meals on the go. 

Tip #6: You can never pack enough wet wipes for quick clean up!

Tip #7: When all else fails, plug in the portable DVD player! :)

*I saw an idea on Pinterest to attach bubble wrap to road trip BINGO cards.  The kids loved popping along as they found the licence plates and road signs they were searching for.  It may or may not have given the driver a bit of a headache (wink!).
What are some of your most successful road trip tips?  We would love to hear about them.
Disclosure: For this trip we drove a Buick Enclave from  They provided us with a free upgrade to the economy car package we booked. They have no expectations for us to write about their service or our experience, however it was a very positive experience for our family and we will look forward to working with them again in the future when we plan our vacations.

1 comment:

  1. These are such great ideas! Our kids are still a little young for this but hey, that's what pinterest is for (hoarding great ideas for future use), right? :)