Fun Ideas and Tips for a Family Road Trip

Planning the ultimate family road trip can feel a bit arduous.  But really it’s not that bad.  All you need to do is to follow a few simple family road trip tips and put together some family road trip essentials.

Then before you know it, you will have planned and prepared for your long road trip with kids.

In this article on family road trip tips you’ll learn about:

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Prepare a Driving Schedule

Start by planning your road trip itinerary by using a route planner like Google maps or your favourite GPS route planner app.

  • Enter your destination and your departure point
  • View ALL the route options
  • The trick is to find an interesting route – that doesn’t add on too much time and offers great places to stop
    • Essentially you are looking for options where the kids can run off some energy between the long drives like parks and playgrounds
    • Do a bit of research as to what’s available at all the small towns en route

Allow sufficient breaks for toddlers and young children.

  • Try to arrange to travel during nap times.
  • Have snacks, lunch and drinks ready to prepare at the stop
    • If you are buying along the way make sure you stop at the shop before the park
  • Find a park/beach for scheduled stops
  • Try setting goals to limit the whinging
    • For example, in the next town, we will stop for ice cream, choose goals that work for your family

    If you are going on a long car journey find a family road trip itinerary that works for you.  For example:

    • Head off as soon as you wake
    • Stop for breakfast and encourage play
    • 2nd leg and stop for morning tea and more play
    • 3rd leg and stop for lunch and more play
    • 4th leg and plan to arrive to your destination in the late afternoon
      • This will allow more time for you to relax, get organised and settle for dinner
      • Remember driving on country roads at night can be dangerous
      • This is only a suggestion you and your family will find what works best for you

    Top Trip Tip: Expect hiccups along the way, remain flexible and keep a sense of humour

    Tips and What to Pack for Kids in the Car

    Have a small bag packed separately from your main luggage and easily accessible preferably so you don’t have to stop.

    On the back seat of the car a bag on for travel toys pack for road trip with kids

    Packing for road trips with baby

    Pack for your baby as you would for a day out with your nappy/diaper bag filled with all the essentials to last the full day.

    • Water
    • Milk,
    • Formula
    • Nappies
    • Wipes
    • Change mat
    • Nappy paste

    Discover everything your need to…

    Packing for road trips with a toddler

    Most toddlers are still not toilet trained so pack as you would for a baby, but you will need to add a few more things as toddlers don’t sleep as much as babies.

    • Healthy snacks
    • Small toys
    • Favourite comfort toy
    • Books

    Packing for road trips with kids to tweens and teens

    Now it’s a matter of dealing with the constant cries of, “I’m hungry”, “I’m bored” and “Are we there yet?”

    • Healthy snacks
    • Activity books* and colouring markers
    • Reading books
    • iPad or perhaps a DVD player
    • Favourite music for all ages and everyone gets a turn
    • Consider a lap table* for older toddlers and children for colouring and other games.

    Complete your…

    Family Road Trip Games

    Even though you have packed some car games and activities, keeping the kids entertained on a long drive can be exhausting so have a pleather of road trip games for kids to help break up the journey.  Many of the following fun driving games can be played with kids of all ages – you may need to make a few adjustments to the version depending on age.

    • Eye Spy
      • “I spy something beginning with…” or “I something red etc.”
    • Number plates
      • What do the license plate letters stand for eg. REG “Reggie eats grapes”
    • How long to the next town
    • Name that song
    • 20 questions
      • One person thinks of an item and the others have to ask questions to determine what it is
    • Granny went to the market and bought…..
      • We also do variations like, “On a trip, I packed….”
    • Motorway snap
      • Choose the colour and model of the car
    • Categories
      • Choose a category eg football, movie, or music artist, then everyone takes turns to name something in that category
    • Story builder
      • Each person adds one more word to create a story – see where your story goes
    • Scavenger hunt
      • Pre-prepare a list of items for the kids to find along the way
    • The quiet game
      • This was my parent’s favourite game for my sisters and me to play on long road trips.  Yep, we all had to be quiet!

    Prepare the Car

    When heading on a road trip you will really want to make sure you pack the car correctly and have all the right stuff to keep your kids amused.

    • Check your car before you leave such as the tyres and oil or get a service
    • Have roadside assistance
    • Fill the car before you depart – it is often cheaper before you leave and helps to keep your family road trip on a budget
    • Load the car
      • Keeping eski/cooler box and picnic sets easily available during stops
    • Have the correct age-appropriate car seats
      • If you are taking a road trip abroad you can:
        • Take your own car seats from home (check your seat matches the destination country’s car seat regulations)
        • Hire a car seat from your car rental provider
        • Hire a car seat from a baby hire service
    • Have kids’ activities and snacks close at hand
    • Arrange to have side windows have sunshades*
    • Set your route in the GPS tracker

    Finish getting the car set up with these great…

    Road Trips with Pets

    A brown poodle dog in a car
    Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

    If you are taking the furry members of the family on a long road journey ensure

    Motion Sickness

    • Have zip-lock bags handy
    • Open windows for fresh air
    • Avoid the use of iPads and reading material

    Top Trip Tips: Family Road Trips

    • When loading the car place your main luggage at the bottom or back of the boot
    • Have eski/cooler easily within reach for stops
    • Possibly include a small picnic set*
    • Take rubbish bags
    • If the kids are likely to nap have pillows nearby
    • Depending on the weather have blankets and jumpers/sweaters handy
    • For more details on planning a trip check out
      • Road trip planning guide
      • Road trip safety tips

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