Road trips with little ones can be difficult. However, with the right mindset and some proper planning you can enjoy your vacation. Here are some tips on how to reduce the stress on those long rides. Whether you are in a truck, SUV, motorhome, or campervan this list should do the trick in making everyone happy.
I started creating activity bags for the kids for long road trips even before we began RVing. The kids are now excited each time we have a big trip coming up because they know they will be getting some fun things to do while traveling. I pack a bag for each child and put in items that be done in the car. Some of the things I have included are travel games, coloring books, drawing materials, travel journals, and books. Try to get one new item for each hour traveling and hand them out as they get bored. Some of the kids favorite items they have received and kept them occupied the longest were:
- Hangman Magnetic travel games
- Dry Erase Board
- LOL Coloring Book
- Travel Bop It Game
- Outdoor Puzzles Book
You can find great budget friendly options at The Dollar Tree, Five Below, or the dollar bins at Target.
We also like to play games as a family. This past trip we enjoyed playing Which Would You Choose (A Would You Rather type app I downloaded on my Iphone), 5 Second Rule (we use just the cards to play in the car), and of course I Spy is also a classic that is fun for all ages.
Let’s face it, we all get hangry. Having drinks and snacks packed can save you arguments and time so that you don’t have to stop anywhere. We keep a cooler with water and juices and hearty snacks like cheese and crackers, fruit, trail mix, and granola bars that will help get us to the next meal.
Our family likes to take our lunch or dinner breaks at a rest stop. We get out and stretch and let the kids eat in the camper. It gives them a break from sitting in their car seats. It also seems to refresh them and lets us get back on the road more easily.
When you have kids things never go according to plan. You may need to take three more potty breaks then you planned, take a trip to the store for a forgotten item (diapers anyone?) or make an unexpected stop. On our trip to Myrtle Beach, SC we planned on driving from Upstate New York to Virginia (about 8 hours) for our first day on the road. We ended up dealing with unexpected storms and accidentally taking the “scenic route” more often then we would have liked. After 10 hours of driving we were still 2 hours away from our first stop where we had already made reservations.
There was more bad weather coming in so I made the executive decision that we had traveled enough for the day and used the Good Sam Club app to find a local campground. I called and verified they had a campsite available and we headed that way. We had to forfeit the deposit we made at the other campground but the kids were so much happier. We were even able to enjoy dinner at the campground, a bike ride, and time on the playground.
Enjoy the Journey
This is a tough one for me. When traveling, I’m used to trying to get to the destination as quickly as possible so that I can enjoy my vacation. While RVing, the trip can take longer because you are traveling at lower speeds and have to take detours to accommodate the weight and size of your vehicle. I had to adjust my attitude and try to enjoy the uninterrupted time in the truck with my family. Once I changed my mindset to find joy in the journey, I enjoyed viewing the sites out the window such as the blue skies, green gas, and the leaves on the trees (in mid-April they had yet to arrive in Upstate NY). We got to pass old barns, farm animals, point out boats in the Chesapeake Bay, and even caught a glimpse of the Washington monument.
Let’s face it we all have our limit and can only do so much entertaining of the kiddos. When it gets to the point when they won’t settle down and have asked “Are we there Yet?” for the 100th time, give yourself a little grace and pull out that Ipad and let them watch a movie or play a game. It will allow you all to decompress and will work wonders for your nerves.
Once we get to the campground, we institute a no electronics policy, so giving them a little extra time on the drive works for us.
I hope these tips will allow you to find some peace in your journey! For more tips for camping with kids, check out Top 5 Ways to Use Duct Tape When Camping with Kids.