Whether it's a short drive to grandma's house or a cross-country adventure, road trips with children strike fear in the hearts of parents. But try some of these tricks that we've rounded up from around the web, and you just might save yourself from that dreaded chorus of "Are we there yet?"
Road Trip Basics
Gone are the carefree days when you could hop in the car at a moment's notice without even packing a bag. When kids are involved, a successful road trip can easily require more preparation than last year's tax return. A few of the basics that are worth remembering:
- BabyCenter's comprehensive Road Trip Survival Guide includes safety, planning, and packing tips, as well as suggestions on how to work around sleep schedules.
- Be sure you have a packing list on hand to help you figure out which items you just can't travel without.
- Young children can be some of the most difficult on long car trips, so be prepared with these 40+ Tips for Road Trips with Toddlers and Preschoolers.
- Food is essential. Pack snacks that are easy to eat on the road, or try something fun like Peppy Popcorn or Road Trip Pizzas from this list of healthy road trip snacks for kids.
Creative Ways to Entertain
Long hours and cramped quarters can make the entire family cranky, but if you stock your car with exciting games and have plenty of activities planned, you're all more likely to enjoy the ride.
- Make your own Art on the Go caddy with a cookie sheet and some spray paint. Bring it along to keep papers, markers, and other art supplies organized in the car.
- Play games! Get ideas from 10 Best Car Games for Kids or Road Trip Boredom Busters.
- Entertain older children by handing them a map and letting them navigate — there's no better lesson in geography!
- Books on tape (or most likely CD) provide a nice screen-free alternative to movies and video games on long car trips. Check out this list of 10 Best Children's Audio Books for inspiration.
- Plan a Road Trip Scavenger Hunt — it will keep the entire family entertained for hours.
- Pack a Mary Poppins Bag. A bottomless bag of tricks will always make the trip go more smoothly, though a nanny who is practically perfect in every way might be even better!
Is your family taking a road trip this summer? How do you survive car trips with kids?