We have 6 kids and we took them on a 10 hour road trip last week. I feel like just saying that makes me a little bit insane.
Traveling with kids is always an adventure. This was the first time we had ventured out with the twins and we kept our fingers crossed that they’d be good travelers. We’ve been lucky and our trips generally go smoothly . . . most of the time. Of course our 10 hour trip did take about 14 hours but we made it there in one piece and that’s the important thing.
Road trips are not known to be the most exciting thing in the world and when you have a car full (or van full in our case) of kids that can spell disaster. The best way to avert a meltdown and keep everyone relatively happy on your trip is to keep kids busy, busy, busy.
We plan ahead so we can keep them occupied and make the trip more enjoyable for everyone. Be sure and have options for older and younger kids.
Here are our tried and true tricks for keeping kids busy on a road trip:
1. Don’t give them everything at once. We used to hand each kid a backpack full of activities for the road and let them have at it from the very beginning of the trip. A few hours in they were complaining that they were bored. You can avoid that by slowly trickling the toys/games/activities out throughout your trip. My kids know they can’t play with anything for the first hour. That’s their time to enjoy the scenery. Once they start to get bored we give them one thing to do. We let that keep them occupied as long as we can then let them start on something new.
2. Bring a variety of activities. Some things are easier to do in the car than others so it’s tempting to bring a lot of similar items. Keep it varied though. Bring an audio book, a portable game, an electronic toy, some coloring books, and anything else that could be done relatively easily in the car.
3. Play verbal games. My kids just about died when I told them my family and I used to drive across country every other summer growing up. 4 days in a car with nothing to do but play the license plate game (prepare ahead of time with this fun printable license plate game). The funny thing is, to kids so used to electronic games and high energy activities, the old school games were a real novelty to my kids. They were entertained for hours playing the alphabet game (you know, the one where you have to find each letter of the alphabet on license plates, billboards, or signs. They loved it.
4. Talk to each other. Our lives are so crazy that we don’t usually get time to talk uninterrupted. A road trip is the perfect time to catch up on the little things that are going on with your kids and spend some time finding out about the things they are interested in. I have one son who LOVES to talk so having the chance to talk without me stopping him to tell him I have to finish something first is a dream come true. I actually took a cross-country road trip with my dad when I graduated high school and went away from school and I still think back to those conversations often.
5. Rotate seats. It’s funny how a change of scenery can help, even if you are only moving to a different seat in the car. We make a habit of switching who sits where whenever we have a pitstop. The littles who are in car seats may not be able to move easily but even thy like having a different buddy sitting next to them. Our twins are both in Britax infant seats so we use the same bases and swap their position every time we stop.
6. Take pillows and blankets. You can entertain kids all you want but nothing speeds up a road trip like a good, long nap. My kids aren’t great about sleeping in the car so we have to help things along by bringing pillows and blankets to help them get comfortable. If I’m really desperate I’ll offer a treat at the next rest stop to whichever kid falls asleep first.
7. Feed them. My kids are all about the food. Every time one of them says they are bored I had them a snack. Works every time. I’ve kept antsy kids occupied for hours by feeding them one snack after another. If your kids are especially bored, look for time consuming snacks like pistachios still in the shell or whole apples.
How do you keep your kids occupied on a road trip?
This post has been linked up on A Mama’s Story.