How to Best Prepare For A Road Trip With Kids
Welcome to the very first post of this road trip with kids series! The series will run for seven days from today to Saturday.
This weeklong series will cover road trip essentials to pack in the car, quick and healthy road trip snacks for kids and adults, toys & activities for kids, DIY car storage bin and several fun activity tutorials and lastly, I will provide printable checklists for your road trip with kids!
- Tomorrow will be all about how to conquer packing and road trip essentials. Make sure your car is stocked with everything needed for anything especially for emergencies. If you have kids, you know they will happen!
Right now, I will cover how to best prepare your family ahead of time for an upcoming road trip with kids.
We drove all over Florida many times, but this road trip was our first long distance multi-stop family road trip. Before I had my second child, Ocean the furthest we drove with just our first child, Coral was to South Carolina.
We originally planned on purchasing flight tickets and fly from Florida to New York. However, it was really complicated to figure out how to drag the kids’ bulky car seats and a tandem stroller. We could leave the car seats behind but then how do we get rental car seats from the airport when the rental car place says they are not guaranteed. Flight tickets are not cheap. We would have to rent a car and two car seats in addition to the flight tickets.
So, we decided to just save money and do a road trip so we could bring the kids’ car seats and their stroller. Ultimately, we agreed that we could visit various places at the same time instead of flying to one place and staying there. We stopped in and visited Virginia, Washington DC, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
If you had flown with the kids and have tips on getting car seats and strollers at the airport, please send them my way!
I will share what did work and did not work on our long road trip from Florida to New York then from New York to Florida in this series. We made multiple stops along the way.
Here are my general yet important tips that you should know about being prepared for a road trip with kids:
- The most important tip I can offer here is that you have to lower your expectations. Bend or even break the rules you have at home about screentime, food, or whatever else. The kids ate so much sugar during the trip.
- I expected the worse to occur during the trip so I would be able to manage it without scrambling around in an emergency. To my surprise, nothing significant happened except several meltdowns during the trip. However, I was truly glad I was thoroughly prepared!
- Prepare your kids especially your baby and/or toddler for a long road trip by doing shorter road trips. They would get used being strapped in their car seats for a long period of time. If your kids are old enough, mentally prepare them for the trip by explaining how long the trip would be.
- Don’t let them stay in their car seat more than 2-3 hours. Make frequent stops every 2-3 hours to let your kids run around and play to stretch their bodies to keep their blood flowing. My kids loved to run around at rest areas off the highway.
- I highly recommend you to drive through the night so you can get the majority of the road trip done while your kids sleep, hopefully. My kids didn’t sleep much through the night but the roads were empty. No traffic at all, like seriously! When we drove back home during the daytime, LOTS of traffic. The kids were having meltdowns and we were all miserable. NEVER AGAIN.
- If at all possible, find food places with indoor play areas or playgrounds. So, you could eat and the kids could play their energy out.
- Have your car checked and do the maintenances necessary to make sure it is all ready for a long road trip. Remove everything from the car that you wouldn’t use on the road trip like work stuff.
I’ve asked moms to share their general tips to mentally prepare yourself for a road trip with kids:
“We travel thousands of miles with our kids. The best things to do are simply plan ahead, allow yourself extra time for everything, and always have a couple surprises up your sleeve to break up the long travel day!” – Kristen
“Throw all your standards out the window. Do you want candy? You get candy! You want screen time? Here’s my phone. You do whatever you gotta do to get through it and don’t feel one bit bad about it.” – Jaymi
“Pick 2-3 spots where the kids can run around and get some energy out on the way, and allow extra time for travel. You will NOT get there quickly, and that’s OK!” – Daphne
“I have a child with autism. It’s important that they knew in advance of where we were going and any planned stops along the way.” – Contessa
“Plan stops along the way! We either look for easy to get to playgrounds or if the weather is bad, we will stop at a McDonalds with an indoor play area. We put a pull up on our toddler in case we can’t make it to a toilet/rest area or he falls asleep in the car seat. Finally, we make sure to have a lot of snacks, books, and shows downloaded on the iPad!” – Celine
“If you can, prolong their naps so that once they get in the car, they will be exhausted. BRING lots of snacks, screen is a okay with me today!” – Tutu
“Mentally prepare yourself for the tantrums. They’re going to happen, kids don’t like being stuck in the car and are going to voice their frustration.” – Shari
” I try to coordinate road trips with naptime or bedtime. I make sure to nurse her first and then hit the road. Definitely minimize stops. My daughter tends to wake up when the car stops. If she wakes up unexpectedly, I’m armed with her favorite songs and we will sing them continuously!” – Keyona
“Have a reward at the end. Like swimming at the hotel. Having a pool is such a great incentive.” – Jenn
How do you prepare yourself for a road trip with kids?
Road trip with kids series:
- How to Best Prepare For A Road Trip With Kids
- How To Conquer Packing For A Road Trip With Kids
- DIY Convert Diaper Box To Storage Bin For Traveling In Car With Kids
- Quick And Healthy Road Trip Snacks For Kids And Adults
- Easy And Cheap DIY Car Trip Activities For Kids
- The Best Fun Road Trip Toys And Activities For Happy Kids
- Family Road Trip Checklist To Make Your Trip Enjoyable