Check out these family road trip hacks before you leave your driveway.
The best of times can be exhausting and long when it comes to road trips. When you add kids to the mix, things can get positively stressful.
Here are our top family road trip hacks to help you avoid meltdowns during your journey.
From planning your route and rest stops to answering the inevitable “how much longer” question, these tips will guide you through your journey.
Here are top Family Road Trip Hacks:
1. Before leaving, make sure behaviors are understood
The tone of the trip is set by this often overlooked hack. Before you leave, discuss your trip expectations and rules with your family.
To make sure you don’t forget the rules, print them out. You don’t want to hear that. “That wasn’t told to me! ”
Everyone should use the restroom when we stop, for example. When we stop, everyone stays together, even if they don’t need to go.
Ensure that everyone knows what the expectations are regarding stopping, eating, rewards for good behavior, and consequences for poor behavior.
You can simplify your family’s expectations by going over these rules in advance.
2. Overhang the headrest of the front seat with a backpack full of activities
Because just about everyone owns a backpack, this hack is suitable for all ages. Age-appropriate items can be included in the pack.
Using a binder clip, secure the flap of a backpack to the surface of the front seat’s headrest. Put age-appropriate activities and snacks inside the bag and mesh compartment.
There is no limit to how creative you can be with this hack. A few dollar store toys might make a nice surprise for your little ones.
3. Put peanut butter in Fido’s Kong Toy
The same thing happens to dogs as to kids when they get bored. Fill a Kong toy with peanut butter when traveling with your pet.
Despite the fact that it sounds gross, it is really effective! Even after licking all the center out, he will still be able to smell the treat.
It keeps him busy longer than a typical toy and won’t splinter like a bone.
In order to ensure that there is no leftover treat inside the toy, rinse it thoroughly inside and out as soon as you reach your destination. Cleaning Kong toys is easy thanks to their large openings.
4. Team-building games should be played and one-winner games should be avoided
Don’t be afraid! It is common for kids of all ages to be competitive, and if given the opportunity, they will fight.
When everyone plays a game together, they will get along better. Play a scavenger hunt and offer a prize if everyone collects all the items on the list, such as ice cream if everyone collects all the items. I’d be happy to do that!
You may want to steer clear of some more traditional games, such as license plate bingo if you have competitive kids. Some people won’t believe you saw that Ohio license plate, so these games can backfire and cause fights.
5. Make a scrapbook about moving
Each person should be assigned a different task. Pictures can be handled by one person, scrapbook items by another, and journals by another.
In this way, you have everything for a scrapbook when you return home from your journey. Everyone will appreciate the meaningful souvenir created by the collaborative work.
6. Organizing cars
Keeping organized was crucial to staying sane while cramming 5 people into a car. For keeping the car organized, I found some great items on Amazon.
This backseat car organizer was my favorite. Sets of two are perfect for each girl, and they come as a set of two.
These containers were used for storing their headphones, tablets, color books, loveys, water bottles, sunglasses, face masks, and other personal items.
I thought the girls would enjoy having easy access to anything they need while riding in the car.
The car trash can was another favorite find. Honestly, I have no idea why I haven’t gotten a trash can for my car sooner. The trash we passed around during the trip made this a great buy.
Furthermore, it’s waterproof and insulated, so if you want, you can use it for drinks. For the rest of my life, I’ll keep the trash can in my car.
It is easy for our kids to become bored when they are little since they are all so small. Even using tablets all the time in the car can become boring over time.
In order to keep the girls entertained, I packed a lot of fun activities. Twistable crayons and coloring books were favorites. Crayola Dry Erase Board Binders were even bought for them.
I really enjoyed these. It was well received by the girls, and Duncan spent a considerable amount of time playing with it. Scribbling on it and wiping it away fascinated him.
He enjoyed it for a while. All of us really enjoyed playing Road Trip Bingo I bought for everyone. Searching for things outside the car was fun for the kids.
8. Fun bags for road trips
The trip’s biggest hit was this. Toys for the kids were all small and inexpensive.
Among the items included were cloud putty, Lego DOTs bracelets, surprise balls of all sizes, and Dollar Store activity packs with matchbox cars for Duncan.
Divided a bag of mini Oreos, cookies, and fruit snacks into paper bags with one toy and one treat each. To keep them entertained, I tossed back a Road Trip Fun Bag when the kids got restless.
These were so much fun for them. Their favorite part was not knowing what was inside and getting to play with something new for a while. On the trip, I found this hack to be the most useful.
9. Food containers
The next time you go on a road trip, try this genius idea. Our trip was so much easier with these plastic storage trays.
After stopping at the fast food joint, I filled their juice box, the box of nuggets, and the small bag of French fries in a plastic container and handed it back to them.
The kids could eat their food easily with food sitting on their lap with this method, so we didn’t have nuggets flying everywhere.
When they finished eating their juicy peaches, the girls would throw the pit back into the container and hand it to me without any juice getting on their clothing.
10. Sick Kit for the Car
It’s that dreaded car sickness again. Every time Everly gets in a car, she gets extremely sick. It doesn’t matter how long we are driving, she can get queasy.
She has a car sick kit with me so I can quickly assist her when she gets sick or clean her car if she gets sick. In the clear bag I included:
- Some small trash bags
- Extra pair of clothes
- Water bottle
- Peppermint essential oil
- Motion sickness medicine
- Cleaning wipes
- Ginger chews
- Microfiber cloth
I was able to easily reach this while driving since it was near me. In her case, we only needed to pull out the kit once. 90% of the time is saved by Peppermint Oil.
She uses it directly from the bottle by removing the cap. Peppermint and lemon oil can also be diffused in a car diffuser. When kids start feeling queasy, the combo will make your car smell divine.
An Instagram follower also recommended sucking on a lemon. I found that one helpful as well! Don’t forget to pack some lemons!
11. Make sure you pack for a specific purpose
It is essential for me to stay organized while traveling. Keeping organized is as simple as packing like-minded items together.
So that I could separate items by use, I purchased a lot of clear makeup bags and zip-up containers. Similarly, all the child’s bathroom accessories (hair ties, toothbrushes, etc.) were kept in one container.
Swimsuits and sunscreen were packed in clear packing cubes. Wet swimsuits didn’t ruin our other clothing because it zipped up. My sunscreen pouch was very useful since I could toss it in our hiking backpack or in our pool bag.
Definitely made it easy and convenient for me. This cute Road Trip Bag was perfect for our Texas Road Trip. It’s great quality, and we packed all the kids’ toys we wanted to take with us.
To begin packing the car, you should fill the back with items you do not need to reach. As we began to unpack our bags of clothes, we started with all of them.
After that, we pack close to the trunk door so that we can reach items while traveling. In order to keep things close at hand, I used my favorite Collapsible Utility Tote.
Don’t take your expensive purse on your road trip: I learned this the hard way. During our TX road trip, I was lucky to find this adorable (and affordable) leather backpack.
A whole bottle of bug spray spilled inside my backpack at the beginning of the trip. The whole thing was ruined by it. Thank goodness my expensive handbag wasn’t damaged.
At the last minute, I added some home essentials I’m glad I did. The following items are a must if you plan to stay in a hotel or Airbnb or have a picnic on the road.
Bags for trash:
To dispose of dirty clothes or trash
Utensils and plates made of paper:
It’s perfect for eating when you’re on the go or staying in a hotel without a dishwasher.
Use them as napkins or to clean up quickly
Cups made of plastic:
Bath time and other drinks were given to the kids in plastic cups.
Lysol and Clorox Wipes:
After we got to our hotels and Air B&Bs, Corona and I sprayed everything down. Check these HUGGIES Natural Baby Wipes.
First Aid Kit:
There is no telling when you will need a bandage.
Two times on the trip, nail clippers were needed. Bringing these was such a great idea.
When you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and need to go potty.
12. Treats and snacks
Keep snacks and treats on hand for the ride.
They come in handy when everyone starts to get bored, and if you choose meals that take time to eat, it may prolong the ride until your next stop.
In order to provide the children with healthy snacks, I loaded up on a variety of individual-sized snack bags such as goldfish, animal crackers, raisins, peanut butter crackers, and pretzels. It was also important to have healthy options.
The cucumbers and bell peppers were sliced and the apples and peaches were whole. A surprising number of healthy options disappeared first.
Every time one of the kids became feisty, I would throw them a snack back in the passenger seat. It worked perfectly!
13. Take a walk and stretch
It’s time to get out and stretch when the kids get restless and the distractions stop working. 15 minutes can make a world of difference for everyone.
Don’t miss out on the chance to get the wiggles out during bathroom breaks or lunch pit stops. The kids jumped and ran around some construction cones we found after we made our own picnic lunch in a parking lot.
It was so much fun (Dad jumping over the cones) and they will remember it forever. It also energized them to continue driving.
Take advantage of the opportunity to take pictures if you are driving by a beautiful spot while the kids are getting antsy. Once you’ve taken some pictures, you can continue driving.
14. Make sure you bring comfort items
As someone who is unable to sleep without a pillow from home, I am the type of person who cannot sleep without it. My list had to include that.
Additionally, I packed the kids’ loveys and blankets so they could fall asleep in the car with their comforts from home. Duncan greatly benefited from this.
His blanket would be laid on his lap with a portable sound machine on and I would rub his leg a little bit and he would drift off fast. The throw blanket I brought from home was also heavy.
It was mostly for me. The thin sheets on the beds at the places we were staying make me uncomfortable while sleeping, so I brought this. It was more useful than I expected.
Our road trip picnics and car rides were made more comfortable by sitting on it. As well as cuddling with him at night after the kids went to sleep, we enjoyed playing cards or relaxing on the couch together.
15. Let’s go digital
Be sure to bring your tablets along. The best way to kill a few hours of the drive is to throw on a movie even though I hate too much screen time.
Our only tablet was a Kindle Fire, so we bought two (in case they each wanted to watch something separately).
Their tablets came with movies preloaded (as well as some new ones). Audible is also a great way to get books!
Their tablet and headphones allowed them to relax while watching a movie or listening to a story. Keeping the car quiet and zoning out was so much easier with this!
What is the ideal number of stops for family road trips?
Your family’s comfort level while on a road trip really determines how often you stop.
Depending on their age, some kids are able to go for hours without rest, while others get restless quickly.
My recommendation would be to stop about every two hours.
A road trip should not last longer than 8 hours a day.
If you don’t include breaks, you shouldn’t drive more than 9 hours a day.
It is recommended that you take 45 minutes of breaks every 4.5 hours of driving.
Make a Success Plan
Family trips can be exhausting, especially when getting ready for them. The time spent in the car can be easy to ignore when so many other things have to be done.
The most relaxed family can be put to the test when crammed together without escape.
Take advantage of our family road trip hacks to make your time in the car more enjoyable. Hopefully, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself without fighting that way.