I’ve been taking road trips since I was 1 and I have a couple hundred thousand miles of road trips under my belt…that’s a lot of experience! My mom rocked road trips with kids like a boss and so now I’m excited to pass along what I learned from her!
The first thing my mom did was to assemble the following kits. This helped ensure everything had a place and there was a place for everything. This makes things easy to find and kept all of us kids entertained (no easy feat!) These kits also made it easier for us to load and unload at each stop on the road trip.
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- Bathroom Kit. Everything the family needs for the bathroom in one place.
- Bedtime Packs. This makes it easier to check into a hotel because you don’t have to bring in all of the suitcases…you just need to make sure the bedtime packs make it into the hotel room. This pack includes pajamas, toothbrush, and any comfort objects for sleeping.
- Car Activity Kit. This kit stays in the car and doesn’t come into the hotel at night. Again, the idea is that you don’t need to unload the whole car every night when you check into the hotel. You can choose to have one kit for the whole family or one kit for each child. There is more information below about how to assemble the car activity kits.
- Car Upkeep Kit. Road trips with kids often mean a messy car! So you’ll want to bring along a few things to keep your car at least reasonably clean along the way. So pack a dust buster type mini vacuum, paper towels, extra roll of toilet paper, and trash bags for each day…because it is easier to throw away a new bag every day instead of emptying it and reusing it!
- First Aid Kit. It’s so important to keep a 85-Piece Commuter First Aid Kit for AAA or something similar in the car at all times!
- Hotel Kit: These items don’t get used at all in the car during the day! The less you take into the hotel, the less you have to remember to pack in the morning, so your hotel kit will make for smoother mornings. Each night my mom would only bring the hotel kit inside and leave all of our various car activities in the car.
- Kid Packs. Each one of us had a bag for every day with our name on the outside. Each bag held an entire outfit so that instead of taking the whole suitcase into the hotel we would each get to pick an outfit bag for the next day. And as an added bonus, our dirty clothes would go right into the bag the clean clothes came out of for easy clean up!
Car Activity Kit Details…
*Felt Boxes (requires preparation ahead of time) – My mom would use a shirt box and glue a piece of felt to the inside of the box bottom. She then made felt tangrams, that we could use in the felt “trays.” We would make shapes all day in the car without risk of things rolling away because the felt stays stuck! Because road trips with kids get complicated when all of their toys roll away from the booster seats!
*Take turns finding each letter of the alphabet in order as you’re driving. The letters can be found on license plates, road signs, billboards, etc and each letter can only be found once the letter before it has been found.
*Take turns telling a story. One person starts with a sentence and everyone takes turns adding another sentence.
*Pick a fixed point in the distance that everyone can see. Everyone guesses how long they think it will take to get to that point. The person who guesses the closest gets to pick the next point.
A few other great memories I have from my childhood that my mom says make a road trip with kids infinitely easier…
Eating on the go – We were always allowed to eat in the car when we were kids! We would stop at fast food places with play areas or in a rest area, and then we would run around while my parents ate. Then once they were finished eating we’d get back in the car, eat and promptly fall asleep!
Surprises – Each morning we would each receive a surprise bag from our parents and we looked forward to this bag every morning! The bags were never extravagant but it was always something fun and new for the day.
What other tips do you have for road trips with kids?