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Let’s face it, taking a road trip with kids isn’t always fun. In fact, I did my first road trip with all the boys when my youngest was around 3 and it was a nightmare. They kept pestering each other, constantly needing to stop for the restroom AND just overall restless…AND it was just a four-hour trip.
As they’ve gotten older their road trip behavior has improved. However, depending on how long the ride is they can start to get a little antsy and pester each other.
Thankfully over the years, I’ve learned some hacks to help road trips with young kids run a lot smoother and today I’m sharing some of my top tips with you.
Make Sure to Wear Comfortable Clothes
This is important for both you and the kids.
When being on the road, especially for an extended number of hours, it’s important to make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible to avoid becoming irritable.
For example, when I do road trips with the kids, I’m usually wearing leggings and a tank top and they’re wearing basketball shorts, or sweats, and a tank top.
Make Sure Everyone’s Devices are Charged (And Don’t Forget the Chargers)
When the kids were even younger my go-to resource was to make sure I had enough movies for road trips. Now since they’re older a major task is making sure that everyone has their devices charged and ready to go so, they don’t have to fight over the one tablet that is somehow remarkably charged but nothing else is.
Also, make sure everyone has their chargers so you can refuel devices before the trip back home. I also recommend having a few portable chargers available as well as not everyone can use the car charger at once (depending on how many devices there are).
Take at Least One Break Per Hour on Long Road Trips
Tackling a road trip that lasts more than two hours with young kids isn’t recommended. Unless you’re involved in an emergency (or you’re running late) you should aim to stop at least once per hour.
The kids will appreciate being able to go to the bathroom, grab some snacks, and stretch their legs.
Keep in mind, if you’re going to a location for the first time you can save yourself some time (and your sanity) by planning out rest breaks before you even leave your house.
Get on the Road When There’s Not a Lot of Traffic
Kids start to become irritated and complain during road trips because they get stressed out by the experience. This is why adding unnecessary hours to a road trip should be avoided at all costs.
Try to take your road trip when there’s little traffic on the road. If you’re going down a busy highway in a major city, check the road conditions before you leave.
It’s also good to have an alternative route if there are major blockages on your route, if possible.
Additionally, what I like to do is either get on the road very early in the morning or late at night. This not only helps avoid traffic, but the kids are able to get some sleep in for the first few hours of the trip as well.
Set Expectations of the Rules Once You Arrive at Your Destination
This is something that applies even for local trips, but it’s even more important when doing road trips to unfamiliar areas.
For example, this weekend we’re doing a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, and there are rules that have to be in place so everyone can stay safe and have fun.
Furthermore, I remind the kids about the rules at least three times to make sure everyone understands. I break it down as follows:
- One reminder the night before the road trip
- Another reminder when we are halfway to our destination
- A final reminder before we get out of the car at the destination
This way I can be sure all three kids are aware of the rules and the consequences of what will happen if they aren’t followed.
For example, when going to the Aquarium we have some main rules that they have to remember:
- Don’t tap on the glass.
- No running.
- Limit loud noises in many of the exhibitions.
- Follow all additional rules that may be given by Aquarium staff members.
Pack Non-Messy Snacks
One of the biggest disasters you can encounter is a spilled snack. Sticky seats and stained clothes are both great ways of ruining any road trip.
For example, when we go on road trips, we usually pack the following:
- Fruit snacks
- Bottled water
- Sunflower Kernels
- Granola bars
Have an Emergency Kit
Anything can happen on the road. Even though I can’t recall a road trip where an emergency kit has come in handy it’s always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
I recommend having the following items in your emergency kit:
- First aid kit
- Extra set of comfortable clothes for everyone
- Fully charged battery phone case or power bank
Spoil the Kids a Little
A road trip might seem like nothing to us. But to young kids, it’s an adventure.
That’s why you should spoil the kids a little. It could be something as simple as making a few unplanned stops on the way to check out some attractions you pass by or going to their favorite restaurant.
Make Your Next Road Trip with Young Kids Stress-Free
It’s not always easy to manage a road trip with young kids. But by following these tips you can keep your kids patient and happy the entire road trip so everyone can have a fun time together as a family.
Just remember to charge everything, stop regularly, and remember the trip is about making fun memories together as a family.x
How do you make sure your road trips with young kids don’t become stressful?