A family road trip creates wonderful memories, but that doesn't mean a long journey with kids isn't a challenge. Make the most of your time in the car by planning ahead. Follow these simple tips, and you and your kids may decide that getting there is half the fun.
Parents putting child in car seat for road trip

Take Snacks

Nothing is scarier than a miniature ravenous beast. Stock a small cooler with sandwiches, fruit, cheese sticks, and individual bags of snack crackers and cookies. Don't forget small bottles of water and juice, and keep the ice chest close to make it easy to pass out snacks. Be sure to pack wet wipes and plastic trash bags in the car.

Make Activity Backpacks

Boredom is the enemy in the car. Fill individual backpacks with travel games, non-messy art supplies like coloring books and crayons, and comfort items like stuffed animals. Discount stores sell puzzle books, small dolls, army men, playing cards, and other compact toys. Older kids may enjoy tracking their experiences in blank travel journals, and cushioned lap desks provide stable surfaces for writing and other activities. If pent up energy is a problem, pack a ball or Frisbee to toss around at rest stops.

Pack Books

If you have readers in the family, pack inexpensive children's books, or load eBooks onto a Kindle, phone, or tablet. Interactive book apps for kids are also available. Audiobooks come in CD form as well as in digital formats for tablets and phones. They are a great alternative for kids who experience motion sickness when reading in a moving vehicle.

Pre-load Digital Entertainment

To avoid expensive data streaming, load favorite movies, television shows, and videos onto portable devices before leaving. Create a music playlist with your child's favorite tunes. Pack a portable DVD player, and fill a binder with fresh movies purchased especially for the trip. Movies don't have to be brand new, but they should be new to your children. Find inexpensive DVDs at thrift stores and garage sales. Don't forget all the necessary car chargers and charging cords.

Pass Out Headphones

Keep the peace on a long road trip by distributing headphones or earbuds to everyone but the driver. This allows everyone to listen to individual media and not be forced to listen to Barbie's latest movie. It also gives the driver the chance to enjoy the car's stereo system in peace.

Play Family Games

Encourage kids to take a break from screen time on occasion to play some old-school I Spy or the license plate game. Other options include counting cars of a certain color and spotting specific road signs. The sky's the limit on these traditional forms of interactive family fun.
Nothing is better than spending time with family, but traveling long stretches of highway together can stretch the limits of sanity. Stocking up on accessories is critical, but it's also important to travel in comfort. Choose a minivan or SUV with all the room you need for your precious cargo.
Father and daughter smiling on beach vacation

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