Road trips sound like a lot of fun until you are facing one with a toddler. Even a young child. But I promise you, road trips with kids can be fun. Even with toddlers.
I come to this topic with a good bit of experience. We made the drive from Alabama to Arizona (27 hours…) multiple times. We also did a few shorter treks at 15ish hours. And my family took a lot of road trips when I was younger. The longest was Texas to New Hampshire. We only made that trip once…for good reason.
So people have become very creative when it comes to having a great road trip with kids. I’ve developed a few of my own techniques and they’ve been pretty successful.
- Before you leave, scout out play places (like McDonalds and Chick Fil A) along the way. We tend to stick to just the two because others are hit and miss with the playground. They both have methods where you can search for locations with a Playplace so you don’t find one without. You don’t have to eat there, either. We often pack food and eat in the car. Stopping at a play place is a great way to release energy though! (We usually order a drink or side so we are paying customers). This one method has been my primarily life saver on road trips.
- Plan games to play. “I Spy” is a favorite around here. We also play the alphabet game where you have to find all the letters in the alphabet on signs and the license plate game. My grandmother used to play an alphabet game with us. It went something like this:
Person 1: “I’m going to Seattle and I’m going to bring an alligator.”
Person 2: “I’m going to Seattle and I’m going to bring an alligator and a boat.”
Person 1 (or 3): “I’m going to Seattle and I’m going to bring an alligator, a boat, and a camera”.
And so on and so on until someone forgets the previous items.
- Book on tape. We typically borrow one from the library before we leave and listen to it. This works better when they’re a bit older.
- New toys. If we’re going on an especially long trip I pack a little backpack for each kid. Inside I will put a few small snacks, perhaps a water bottle or maybe even juice. Sometime to color or draw. And a new toy. They all get the same toy to make sure there is no arguing over who gets what. I hide these backpacks until we hit our limit. When the whining is too much, when the breaks we took didn’t do it, and there is still 3 hours left.
- Print maps for each child. Let them trace where your progress. Might help them to see how far you’ve already gone!
- Look for cool stops along the way (if time permits). There are some pretty cool museums and sights to see! We once stopped at Sea World in San Antonio for a full day. It was such a great break right in the middle of our trip.
- Try to book hotels with a pool (indoor if it’s not summer). We would also plan to stop a bit before bedtime so we could hop in the pool before bedtime. Great way to get the energy out so they will sleep and be ready for another day of driving.
- Headphones and an iPod (or anything that places music). I find that Baloo loses his patience the earliest so I try to have something prepared for him so he can kind of escape. He needs his time alone on a daily basis and sitting in a car all day does not provide that. But headphones and an iPod gives him enough of an escape that he doesn’t complete lose it on us.
- Check Pinterest. There are tons and tons of ideas from toys that will entertain them to songs you can play and everything in between. Here is one board I am particularly fond of: Road Trip Fun.
I hope this helps you have a great road trip with your kids!