Tips for a Successful Road Trip with Young Children

roadtrip tips, family road trips

Although we gave it a lot of thought, deciding to drive solo on a 2100 mile round-trip with my three children didn’t take much thought.  I frequently travel close to home on four-five hour trips with my children.  Back when I was growing up, my beautiful mother annually made the drive from Arkansas to Florida alone with five children, then as a teen, we drove from Utah to Florida.  I have great memories of our good times in the car and wanted to start creating those memories with my own children.

The journey is the destination!  With homeschooling, I want our adventures to be fun but also educational.  Road-trips allow us flexibility to plan stops along the way and see the beautiful country, to learn, grow and explore.

Taking pointers from what worked for my mother I tried to do some planning.  I knew I would need to be flexible, after all, my travel partners were Austin-6, Addie-4 and my baby Bethany who was nine months old.  I was asked, are you crazy?  Maybe I am, but I would say more adventurous!

The kids were excited about our road-trip.  They love to travel, it seems to run in their veins.  If you know them, ask them what destinations are on their travel bucket list.  Their excitement energized me and I would definitely come to need it!

There was the packing.  (That will be shared soon).  We were taking a car, so all three children would be in the backseat together.  This could be a blessing or a curse.  For me, most of the time it was a total blessing.  Having taken two solo road-trips so far this summer, I thought I would share a few tips for a successful road-trip with kids.

Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Be Flexible – We set out in the morning, around the time the children woke up, so it was just shy of seven.  I had decided we would stop as often as we needed to keep things fun and tears at bay for the little one.  I thought it would be about every two hours, sometimes we made it a bit longer but usually we stopped every 1 1/2-2 hours.  Since I was mentally prepared to stop, I wasn’t stressing about the time we were missing on the road.

Pack Food – Nothing lightens up the kids mood quite like a snack.  Taking healthy foods you normally would eat, helps keep your body on track, saves money and keeps the little ones busy.  Growing up, my mother would make some of our favorite foods for us to eat on the road, homemade fried chicken, potato salad, fruit salad, yeast rolls, cookies….all yummy!  I took the simplified route but packed a variety of dairy-free items so we could happily eat for a while.

The older kids ate while we traveled to help pass the time and also so they could play when we stopped!  Pack your cooler and snacks so someone in your party can easily reach it without getting unbuckled.  We took our EcoVessel insulated refillable water bottles but also packed a case of water on the floor so we would have it when we needed it.


Take Breaks – There are those times when you need to be somewhere quickly, it happens.  But if you are taking a longer road-trip with children, try to plan in time for stops.  This was my lifesaver!  Find the playgrounds.  When we needed to stop for the baby to nurse or go potty, I tried to make every other stop somewhere with a play area for the older two to not just stretch their legs but also to release some energy.

Some of the rest areas have play areas, so use them!  Even 10-15 minutes was enough to refresh my kids.  If they didn’t, I let the run in the grassy area around the trees.  When it was rainy, we stopped at a fast-food restaurant.  I would purchase a drink, feed the baby and let the kids would play.  The stop would usually take us about 30 minutes including a potty break.

Stick with Your Bedtime Routine – As I typed that I thought, who am I kidding?  The reality is, my children are use to going to bed at 8pm.  While we made some exceptions while we were on vacation, when traveling, it went so much better if we tried to stick with their bedtimes so it didn’t affect them the following day.  For us, that meant stopping in time for the kids to have showers/baths before bed.  When I was successful, they were up before six the next morning, happy to hit the road again.

Keep Their Minds Occupied – For the babies, this can be more of a challenge but bringing Bethany is at the age she is really discovering.  Bringing age appropriate toys for her to explore helped.  We packed a variety of movies that all the kids loved along with lots of great music.  For the older kids making sure we had things to keep their minds engaged was a must!  I shared a few of our travel musts for the kids in a previous post but look for more to come soon.

Remember: Your attitude ultimately controls the outcome of the trip!


Make the best, even of worst situations so you can return home with great memories from your road-trip!  Experiences and memories are the reason we began our road trip after all!

What tip would you add to make your road trip successful?

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