How to Road Trip with Young Kids

Summer is slowly drawing to close. But you may have one more road trip planned before August turns to September. If so, here are a few tips that worked for us during our recent road trip from Pennsylvania to Alabama with a 4-year-0ld and an 18-month-old.


1. Stock up on new toys and activities from the Dollar Store and Target, and wrap each thing in fun, colorful paper. I filled Nora’s red basket with: stickers, magnets, glow sticks, blank notebooks, crayons, pop-up books, and a Paw Patrol toy. I included many of the same things in Sam’s blue basket, plus flash cards, a magnetic tic-tac-toe game, a dry erase board, and a new Transformers toy.


The plan was to have each kid open one surprise every hour. But, I will admit, that there were a few rough hours that I allowed three or four gifts.


Biggest hit, by far (besides the fully loaded iPad, of course), was the baking sheet and magnets. For both kiddos.


2. I also included Color Wonder markers and coloring books in each kid’s backpack and Water Wow books. These are the best art supplies for road trips!


3. Download new apps and movies to the iPad. We love these headphones and this seat-back iPad case for traveling. Sam’s favorite apps: LEGO Juniors Create and Cruise, Endless ABC, and Alpha Tots. And Nora’s favorite apps: Peekaboo Barn and Elmo Calls.

4. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. Snacks that the kids love (Goldfish crackers, pretzels, popcorn, applesauce), snacks they have never tried (Rice Krispie treats), and snacks that are for specials occasions only (lollipops and M&Ms). I also filled bags with Fruit Loops and plastic lacing strings to make necklaces. Though they had just as much fun wrapping up my hands.


5. Bring a cooler for water and cold food (apples, carrots, cucumber). And several plastic bags to collect trash.

6. Be prepared to visit many rest stops. And fast food restaurants. And coffee shops. Every time we stopped, we marched and jumped and ran around outside to burn off energy. And we admitted that 14 hours in the car was just too long — for all of us — and so we broke up the return trip with an overnight hotel stay. Best decision ever!


7. Most importantly, be flexible. Don’t worry about Cheerios dumped onto the floor and M&Ms tossed between car seats. Let your kids cover you in stickers and tie your hands together with plastic lacing string. Listen to Shake it Off on repeat if it will grant you 15 minutes of silence. And try not to freak out when the car breaks down 30 minutes from home. Yes, that happened.


Happy road tripping!

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