Travel & Tours

Happy Kids on the Road: Travel Tips for Helping Kids Cope with a Roadtrip

A little girl standing in front of a car posing for the camera
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Keep Kids Comfortable on the Road

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, your mood is directly affected by how comfortable you are. It’s a fact. Cars get uncomfortable, especially when you’re in them for a while. There are a few things you can do to keep your kids happy by simply keeping them, first and foremost, comfortable:

  • Make sure each kid has a small pillow and blanket, especially one from their own room that will be familiar and soothe.
  • Try to avoid putting any items, especially luggage, under their feet. Sure, kids have shorter legs. They still need legroom, however.
  • Stop often so the kids (and the parents) can get a chance to stretch their legs. This will also help them burn some pent up energy. Don’t rush the stops at rest areas and restaurants. Give everyone a chance to move around.

Keep the Kids Nourished on the Road

Another way to ensure kids will get cranky is to let them go hungry and thirsty. Here are some tips to be sure they feel nourished on the road:

  • Pack a cooler with bottled water, diluted juice and other non-soda drinks (do you really want them hopped up on sugar and caffeine), as well as some healthy snacks like fresh diced fruit and sandwiches.
  • If you will stop, try to find places that offer healthy kids’ meal options. Wendy’s, for instance, offers sandwiches and healthier side options.
  • Eat a good meal before you set off on the road so you won’t need food again for a while.

Keep the Kids Entertained on the Road

Any parent knows a bored kid will, inevitably, get grumpy and start whining. Fend off these troubles by coming armed with some entertainment in your DIY family travel tote. Here are some ideas for entertaining kids on the road:

  • Play kid car trip games, such as spotting all the states’ license plates. You might even look for a book full of road trip games before you go. Even a box of trivia cards can be fun.
  • Bring a mix of entertainment items for each kid (and let older kids have their own travel toy bags). Have books, coloring books, games, handheld video games and handheld DVD players.
  • Consider giving each kid their own travel gadget, if it’s affordable, such as music players and DVD players. Make sure each has earphones. This will avoid fights over what to watch or listen to.
  • Bring CDs of music the entire family can enjoy to play on the car stero system.

Don’t Push Kids on the Road

Before you had kids, you and your honey might have gone cross country in two whirlwind days. Well, things are different when traveling with kids. Remember that a child lacks the coping skills and adult has. Don’t push things or they will react poorly, and it won’t be their fault. Here are tips for keeping the roadtrip less stressful for kids:

  • Don’t do long stretches at a time. It’s a wonderful world with many things to see anyway! Instead of one grueling 15-hour driving day, split that up and stop overnight somewhere no one in the family has seen.
  • Plan regular (and frequent) stops to visit the rest room. Kids, especially small children, find it difficult to wait for a bathroom visit.
  • Start early, stop early. It will be less stressful for the kids to pull them out to the car predawn, and let them sleep through the ride a few hours, than to drive well into the night and drag them into a strange hotel to sleep.