City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
Driving at night can speed travel while kids sleep.

Featured Article

Road Trippin' with Kids

Seven Hacks for Fun, Stress-Free Traveling

Article by Kimberly Blaker

Photography by Stephen Neilson

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Is this the month for the vacation your family has been anxiously anticipating? If so, as a parent how prepared are you for a road trip with youngsters, and being asked a hundred times or more, "Are we there yet?" With a little pre-planning, you can drastically reduce the hassles and turn your time on the road into a fun, family experience for all.

Restroom breaks. Immediately before heading out, have everyone go to the bathroom, whether they need to or not. Just before and while on the road, limit beverages, particularly caffeinated ones, to reduce the frequency of restroom stops. When you do have to stop for something, have everyone use the restroom again, and don't accept anyone's claim, “I don't need to go.”

Reduce stops. Strategize where you choose to stop so you can cover all the bases at once. Fuel up, grab food and beverages, use the restroom, and go for a walk or play a game of tag so everyone can stretch and exercise.

Drive through the night. Kids typically sleep through the night on the road. So, it'll seem like to them that you’ve reached your destination in the blink-of-an-eye, which will reduce everybody’s stress. Parents can switch off driving while one another rests.

Snacks and drinks. Bring along a cooler and a variety of drinks and snacks to reduce pit stops. Breaking up the time with small meals and snacks will also help keep kids pacified. When packing snacks, include some nutritious ones like carrot sticks and apples. Also, keep in mind the messiness of particular types of foods. To reduce messes, avoid foods that melt, smear, and squish, such as chocolate, cupcakes, and yogurt.

Plan fun or scenic stops. Do some advance research to find a fun stop along the way and build it into your vacation. Look for a state or national park, national monument, beach, kiddie fun-land, river walk, or water park.

Car entertainment. Before your trip, visit the library to pick out books, especially audiobooks. Create music playlists, and search for suitable podcasts. But don't let the kids have the items until you're on the road. That way, the kids will have fresh entertainment. Also, take along some car games, notepads and pencils, and print a list of games that don't require pieces to play. Some ideas to get you started include:

  • The license plate game. Have everyone write down the states of the license plates as they spot them. The person with the most states wins.
  • Try "Would you rather?" Take turns asking everyone what their choice would be between two gross or unpleasant situations. For example, would you rather be trapped in a closet that's crawling with hundreds of centipedes or eat a worm?

Screen time. While limiting kids' daily screen time is a best practice, consider making an exception for your road trip. Depending on the length of your drive, it can be a challenge to keep kids amused for the duration despite all the other entertainment you bring along. Limit their screen time on the road by allowing them 30-minute cycles of screen time broken up by other activities.

Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer and regular contributor to SW Lake.

  • Consider a little extra screen time for the kids on the trip.
  • Reading can help kids pass the travel time.
  • Driving at night can speed travel while kids sleep.