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must haves for road trips with kids

With the holiday season approaching, travel is routine for many families. We happen to have extended family within reasonable driving distance, so we are used to packing up our kiddos and hitting the road.  This post is dedicated to my top 10 must haves for road trips with kids.

Must Haves for Road Trip with Kids

10.  Snacks and water.  

Then, more snacks.  Then, back-up snacks. Within arm’s reach!  I pack a small cooler of healthy, perishable snacks – cheese sticks, Gogurt sticks, apple juice, etc.  Then, a bag full of fruit (already cut-up or prepared), crackers, raisons, baggies of dry cereal, etc.

Oh, and a few treats you wouldn’t normally give your child (maybe fruit snacks, or animal cookies, or bite-size candies – whatever is special for your kids).  I use these as incentives and rewards, if (ahem…when) needed!

As for water, I allow for each person to have at least two bottles worth, depending on the length of the trip.

9.  A package of baby wipes.  

No matter how old your children are, I find that baby wipes can pretty much clean up any mess.  Messy faces, messy carseats, messy floors, messy anything.

8. One fabric box bin per child traveling with you.

You can find these at almost any store or online – I got mine at Target.  I’ve tried backpacks with zippers (they usually get dumped within the first 10 minutes of the trip), back pockets of seats (they can’t reach their things), and cute little gift bags (again, dumped quickly).

My kids want to see all of their toys and books and travel games at the same time…hence the ceremonial dumping. In these fabric storage bins, your child can easily see what they want.  And the bins can (mostly) fit in the middle seat between their car seats.  Easy to reach, easy to see. Minimal dumping on the floor.

7.  Now fill those bins with toys, books, and car safe games!  

I typically include small books, matchbox cars, little dolls, stickers, dollar items or trinkets I’ve picked up in my travels, etc.  Small, but fun items.  Oh, and each kid’s lovey or favorite stuffed animal.

I also love etch-a-sketches.  This may be a little old-school, but if your kids want to color, this is SO much easier than managing crayons and markers.  Crayons and markers roll, drop, and scribble on car seats.

6. An extra pair of clothes or jammies for each kid.

Plus, diapers, undies, training pants, socks, etc. easily accessible. My munchkins are notorious for spilling drinks, wiping sticky stuff on them, squeezing ketchup at lunch…on their pants, etc.  It’s much easier when new clothes are handy, versus digging through a suitcase in the trunk.

5.  A first aid kit and any medicine you will need for the day.  

The worst is when you need a band aid. Or children’s Tylenol. Or a dose of the antibiotic your kiddo is on. Or ibuprofen (for you!).  And, you packed it safely away in a cosmetic bag in your suitcase, on the bottom of the pile in the trunk.  Lovely.

4.  Blankets for your kids.  

My kids tend to get chilly with air conditioning. Or, if you’re wanting them to snuggle up (if that’s even possible in their carseat) and sleep, blankies are a good thing to have tucked within arm’s reach.

3.  An arsenal of car games. 

I Spy.  Alphabet I Spy.  The license plate game.  Everyone look for a [insert color] car.  Make-up silly stories…everyone takes a turn and adds a sentence.  Rhyming games.  Silly songs.  What starts with the letter [insert letter].

It depends on your child’s age.  I try to play these games earlier on in the trip when everyone is still fairly fresh.  Then, when boredom takes hold, the kids get restless, and scabbling/whining/kicking the seat creeps in, I break out the….

2. DVD players OR iPads OR tablets.  

Whatever technology your family uses for watching movies or shows remotely.  Oh, and kid-safe head phones.  I once got stuck on an eight hour car ride listening to Yo Gabba Gabba on repeat. On LOUD repeat. Fun little kid show. A little much for eight hours. Headphones are an excellent investment.

1.  Chargers for the car.  

Phone, iPad, iPod, DVD Players, tablets – whatever the technology, bring the back-up car charger.

I hope this list of must haves for road trips with kids comes in handy. Or, at least helps you keep your sanity. Try to start your trip well rested (emphasis on try), remember…you got this, mama!  Safe travels!

What are your must haves and go-to’s for a long car ride with kids?  Share below!

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