We've been on our fair share of road trips, most recently to Disneyland, and I've learned a few things along the way. Hopefully I can give other families out there some useful tips and tricks to survive long car trips with kids. My children are currently 7, 5, 3 and 1. We are planning on embarking on a 20 hour road trip up to Oregon in a few days and I'm back in planning mode. Time to revisit my tried and true tips, so here we go.
#1 - A MUST for me is a DVD player in the car. We aren't huge t.v. watchers here, in fact, we only have Netflix at home, but this is a must have for me on long car trips. With so many kids and such a broad range of ages, this keeps them all happy and content at least for a little while. Our van came with a DVD player that holds 6 DVDs and it is a Godsend.
#2 - Anything they can color. I am a huge fan of those little Grab and Go packs from the Target dollar section. We've gotten Minnie Mouse, Hello Kitty, etc from there and they are perfect for on the go. My three year old is especially entertained by these and they are only a dollar.
#3 - Some sort of tablet. We are blessed to have two iPads for our children to share and once again, they are a lifesaver when kiddos are getting bored. Normally our children have to earn turns on the iPad, but on vacation there are no rules. When someone is getting bored in the car, we can hand them an iPad and let them play educational games or my kids' favorite, Minecraft!
#4 - A new toy. We don't always do this, but for Disneyland we did. We got each of the kids a new small toy that they would love. My girls got small Lalaloopsies and Michael got a small Lego set. This gives them something exciting to play with in the car for awhile. It definitely keeps their interest having something new and buys me a few hours of happiness.
#5 - A special drink. My kids think it is so fun to have special road trip drinks. We never buy juice boxes at home, but on road trips we do. We love Honest Kids pouches. They are organic and super affordable at Target. Offering my kids a fun juice pouch keeps them happy for a little while.
#6 - Snacks. And not just any old snack, something special that they don't get every day. We bought Organic applesauce pouches, beef jerky and for a special treat, Muddy Buddy Chex Mix. My kids are going to be so excited. Sometimes a snack is all you need to keep kids happy and I am totally willing to bribe my kids with snacks.
#7 - A new DVD to go with our DVD player. I never tell my kids about this. We always find some fun new movie we think they would like watching and this always works. Of course, we bring tried and true favorites along too. This trip we bought Despicable Me. My kids haven't seen it and I hope it keeps them happy.
#8 - Frequent stops! When you plan a road trip with kids of any age, stopping frequently is a must. We try to make stops and let the kids get out and run around a little bit. This is exciting for kids because they get to explore a place they haven't been. For some reason, rest stops are fascinating places for a kid.
#9 - Easy access. This is for the parents, but it prevents meltdowns, so I'm adding it here. Pack smart! Keep everything organized and within reach. I know I get stressed out when I realize someone's special blankie is in the trunk or the pacifier I need is not in reach. For me, this is HUGE. I organize like a mad woman and anticipate anything. I make sure I have extra pacifiers and plenty of drinks, snacks and blankets within reach to throw at my kids.
#10 - For my 3 year old - Her portable potty! Hands down, I bring this along. When she has to go, she has to go, even if it's on the side of the road.
#11 - For my 7 Year old - A chapter book and a journal he can notebook in. I think it's fun for kids to keep a vacation journal and my son gets a kick out of this. He can write and draw anything from our trip and create a memory. My little guy also gets migraines which lead to him getting car sick every time. Needless to say, we have a bucket for him that goes with us.
#12 - For my 5 year old and 3 year old girls - Stickers! We bring small notebooks and a ton of stickers to keep them busy.
#13 - Pillows and blankets! For my kiddos, nothing comforts like a blankie and we always bring theirs and a pillow along. I encourage sleeping on long road trips lol.
#14 - Last but not least for me, try and travel at night. The roads are way less busy, it's less stressful and the kids can sleep! I get to listen to music instead of Disney movies and my husband and I can enjoy adult conversation, not fighting over fruit snacks!
So there you have it. In no particular order, all of my road trip tips and essentials! Share what works for you on long road trips in the comments below! I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July. Wish us luck driving that weekend!
Disclaimer: I am not being paid to show any of these items. I just wanted to have some visuals, so I linked them to Amazon. I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way. Some of these products we currently own and others I used as an example(like the DVD player).