How to Survive a Road Trip with Kids

Tips for traveling with kids. Family travel and road trip survival ideas.

Traveling with Ease

My teens are attending a homeschool science lab class at a nearby college, about a 1 1/2 hour drive from where we live. On lab days, we are usually rushing to get ready, get fed, and get out the door on time with all of our necessary supplies.

To make these lab days easier, I’ve found that a little advance planning goes a long way in getting us there on time, and to help me survive a road trip with kids.

Surviving a Road Trip with Kids --Tips for traveling with kids. Family travel and road trip survival ideas.

Hitting the Road

The route we have to travel is very, very rural, so there isn’t anywhere to stop along the way. I learned quickly that I need to bring along some drinks and snacks to keep everyone happy. When the boys come out of lab, they have spent almost three hours focused and busy with the tasks at hand, and they are really in need of some refreshment.

My youngest child and I have to stay occupied while we wait for the lab to be over, and the small town where the college is located doesn’t have a lot of options for activities–I must also plan to keep my son and myself entertained. This regular road trip of ours means I am planning for the car ride itself as well as the time we are there in between.

Surviving a Road Trip with Kids -- Tips for traveling with kids. Family travel and road trip survival ideas.

Tips to Survive a Road Trip with Kids

  • Make sure the car is already outfitted with some essentials: phone charger, gum, tissues, hand sanitizer, umbrella, zipper seal bags (in case of car sickness), small first aid kit, flashlight, and a map of your state. I know phones are now equipped with map and direction technology, but we found out that the rural route we travel doesn’t always have a reliable signal, and the map feature on my phone doesn’t consistently route us the best way, so having a paper map is vital (don’t be afraid–they are possible to refold). Knowing these essentials are always stocked in the car saves me a lot of time when we are heading out the door. Oh, one more thing–Have a full tank of gas before starting out so you don’t end up having to stop at an unfamiliar place.
  • Pack a trip bag for the car: CD to listen to (music, audio book, foreign language instruction, or history lessons); notebook and pen or pencils; change of clothes for everyone, just in case; snacks such as cereal bars, fruit, and sandwiches; a cooler with plenty of drinks to keep everyone hydrated and refreshed.
  • Pack an activity bag for the time spent out of the car: schoolwork, drawing pad and crayons/color pencils, nature journal, read aloud book, scooter, soccer ball, Frisbee,  blanket to sit on. After exploring, running around, and doing some schoolwork, my son and I like to sit down with a good book and our drinks while the older brothers are finishing up their labs. Check out my list of the best road trip books for kids!
  • Bring a sense of adventure: explore the town you are visiting, find a playground, read historical markers, visit the local farmer’s market, find the library. It’s been a fun experience to discover a new place and to see it though my son’s eyes. He thinks the little town where the college is located is just like Mayberry (it’s actually smaller).
  • Keep a positive attitude: when you spend lots of time in the car with lots of activity in between, everyone gets tired and cranky. Making sure everyone is nourished, and keeping a positive attitude, focusing on the fun parts of the day, ensures that the car ride home will be bearable. Honestly, my boys always cheer up once they have a drink and a snack. Hungry boys!
  • Make a list of things you want to remember next time. After our first excursion, I realized there were lots of open places for playing, so a scooter and soccer ball made our list for the next trip. We also found that there weren’t any places open on campus, so the cooler is a necessity–especially in our warm climate after walking around and playing for awhile.


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Comments (2)

  1. Linda S

    Great tips! We lived for many years in a very rural area, so EVERY trip out the driveway was a road trip! Being prepared and having things on hand is essential to sanity and happy travelers – thanks for all the ideas. I’m going to be re-thinking a few things as we get ready for our next road trip.

    1. Anne Campbell (Post author)

      Thanks so much, Linda! One thing I’ve learned with kids is to be prepared for anything!


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