Summit Children’s Center knows surviving a long road trip with kids can be a challenge. And, it can make even the most patient and nurturing parents anxious. Who wants to be stuck in a car with an unhappy child or cranky toddler? We have put together ten great survival tips for road trips with kids to help your trip be more enjoyable.
Important items for road trips with kids
There are important items for any road trip (whether the children will be in the car or not). Make sure your car has the following:
- License and registration
Don’t leave home without either one.
- Car insurance policy with contact numbers
Let’s hope you don’t need them, but have a copy in the glovebox.
- Car manual
You never know when you’ll need to have an answer to something about your car.
- Spare tire
Check it for proper inflation before you leave.
- Roadside Emergency Kit
- Spare money
Cash is king in remote places in our country. Some small towns still have parking meters and toll roads.
- First aid kit
Supplies like band-aids and antiseptic spray don’t take up much room and could be very important on a road trip.
- Bug Spray
Tips for keeping kids entertained
We probably don’t even have to mention this, but good snacks and drinks need to be at the top of your list if you plan to survive road trips with kids. Nothing makes a child crankier than being hungry. Good snacks for small children to eat on their own include cheese, fruit, granola, and pretzels.
2. ALLOW TIME FOR REACHING YOUR DESTINATION
If you are planning to take a trip with a small child, remember to leave enough time for occasional stops, bathroom breaks, and other chances to rest and stretch. Toddlers need to run and jump and get fresh air on a regular basis, so the stops will be plentiful. Highway rest areas provide picnic tables and play areas, so take advantage of them. Bring a few outdoor toys such as a ball and ball glove for some exercise after being cooped up in the car.
3. GET A TRAY FOR THE CAR SEAT
If you’re going to have snacks or even a meal in your car during the trip, we recommend a reliable car seat tray. It makes things so much easier during your road trips with kids. Additionally, the tray gives your child a tabletop for drawing or playing with toys. Most trays detach from the seat and can be removed if necessary. It’s easy to clean and has a small edge which helps to keep liquids from running over the sides.
4. TOY BAG
Assemble a bag of small toys that will be used for road trips with kids. Not his/her normal toys from home. This will ensure the toys seem new and fresh when you hit the road. Pick up a few new things at the dollar store and it will seem like an added surprise for your little ones. Keep the toys up front and hand your child a new toy every so often to prevent boredom. It works great.
Other fun toys for the car might include:
- Magnetic alphabet letters and a metal cookie sheet works great for a fun activity that is also educational.
- Small toy cars
- Stuffed animals
- Books, of course. Reading is a great educational activity.
- Toy steering wheel so the child can “help” with the driving
5. ART SUPPLIES FOR ROAD TRIPS WITH KIDS
Bring a small notebook with blank paper, coloring books, and washable markers. We like the Crayola Twistable Pencils for road trips with kids. They don’t melt if left in the hot car, and when they lose the fine point, just twist and no sharpening is needed.
6. PUPPET ENTERTAINMENT
You’ll be surprised to learn how great it is to have a small puppet in the car. Kids can entertain each other, but the front seat parent can also put on a show. The back of the seat makes for a perfect backdrop for the puppet characters to hide behind.
7. BRING THE ELECTRONICS
DVDs, an iPad, iPod or some other electronic device can work when all else fails. Some episodes from their favorite shows can keep them entertained and calm for hours. Maybe you don’t want to watch a movie, so don’t forget to pack a pair of headphones.
8. TRACK THE PASSING TIME
Are you tired of hearing “Are we there yet?” This is great if your child still doesn’t know how to tell time. Create some fake “tickets” that your child can use for learning how time passes. Give the child a bag of tickets. Every half hour they can “redeem” one ticket. When the tickets are gone, the trip is over and you have reached your destination. Kids love it.
Interactive games to play in the car together is another great idea to pass the time! Check out our favorites here.
9. NO SPILLS OR LEAKS
There are going to be accidents during your road trip with kids. Trust us and be prepared. Use these tips to prevent spills.
- Sippy and snack cups (with lids) are vital to the success of avoiding accidents. Choose cups with lids that are difficult to remove but have an opening where your child’s hands can grab for snacks.
- Have a supply of “overnight” diapers on hand in the car. These are designed to last up to 12 hours before needing a change. Older toddlers that are potty trained might prefer using pull-ups.
- Be prepared with a car seat protector (preferably waterproof) just in case there is a diaper leak or spilled drink.
- Bring baby wipes and paper towels to clean up accidents and other messes.
- Bring several gallon-sized bags and keep them in the car. They come in handy on the off chance that your child comes down with motion sickness or wet clothes.
10. SUPPLIES FOR EMERGENCIES DURING ROAD TRIPS WITH KIDS
One thing for sure is that kids can be unpredictable. When taking road trips with children, things can get extra unpredictable. One never knows the different emergencies and crises that may pop up. Your “Just in Case Box” should include safety pins, bandaids, hand sanitizer, and children’s aspirin.
After the road trips it’s time to get back to school or take the kiddos to daycare. Visit Summit Children’s Center to discover the best childcare and preschool programs in Lee’s Summit.