Just in time for summer vacation season, I shared some road trip tips for the kids on Inside Edition. From car must-haves for every family to some fun surprises to help pass the time, these are my tried-and-true tips that have helped us on our long drives.
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Lap desks are a life saver for road trips
I found these lap desks in the dollar section at Target a few years ago and they have been a game changer for our long road trips with the kids. Before we leave, I like to fill them with the kids’ water bottles, a few activities, and of course, a snack. I’ve found one of the keys is to NOT show the kids what I’m stocking them with until we get in the car. It adds an element of surprise, which is fun for them and gets everyone even more excited about the trip. The desks are great for them to eat on, do activities like coloring, or even playing with things like Magna Tiles or little figures.
Are we there yet bags- your new road trip best friends
Another fun way to use the element of surprise to your advantage is to create little “are we there yet” bags. Just use plain paper bags, label them with “Hour 1”, “Hour 2” and so on. Then, fill them with a little surprise. It can be a new coloring book, a little toy, or even a snack or treat they’ve never had before. At the hour mark labeled on the bag, break them out to help break up the boredom. The best part is, you can even use something you already have at home but that they may not have seen or played with for a while. The whole idea is that it’s a surprise, which automatically equates to fun for the kids and really helps give them something shorter term to look forward to when they’re in the car for hours.
Reusable drawing boards and sticker pads are road trip musts
We have a variety of reusable drawing boards and sticker pads in our house and they basically live in my mom go-bag. We take these types of toys everywhere- from the soccer game sidelines to doctor’s office waiting rooms and of course, on road trips. They always have these at places like the dollar store and 5 Below, and I’m linking a few of our favorites at the bottom of this post.
Make a road trip playlist together
We started a little tradition for our annual Outer Banks road trip a few years ago and it has been a real hit with the kids. Before the trip, we make a road trip playlist together. Everyone gets to weigh in and choose songs they love and we have it on shuffle for the drive. The kids get excited wondering which song is going to come next and if it’s one of their favorites. We also listen to some fun kids’ podcasts and audiobooks for some quiet time (which we all really need at points). The kids love Story Pirates and Pinna podcasts.
Adjust your expectations
This is a big one and a common theme for my parenting journey as a whole so far. It’s important to adjust your plans accordingly, depending on your kids’ ages, stages, overall temperament and mood the day of the trip. Sleep is obviously super helpful, so if you can time it right, leave super early so the kids sleep for the first few hours of a long trip. We usually scoop them up in their jammies and bring them right into the car. By the time they’re waking up, we’re a few hours into the trip and can stop for breakfast and a bathroom break. If your kiddo is an overall squirmy and energetic toddler, plan to build in more frequent/longer stops so they can stretch their legs and get out some wiggles. If you know your child needs more alone/quiet time, headphones will be a must.
Lastly, give yourself grace! It’s hard to travel with kids, and you’re doing great. Building family memories is so worth it. Happy road tripping!
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