Road trips lure travelers with their promise of freedom, scenic landscapes, and quirky roadside attractions. Hitting the road can also mean seemingly constant potty breaks, sibling disputes, car sickness and backseat whining. Here are 10 things you need to pack to keep your family safe and sane during a road trip with children.
Travel Toys and Crafts
Old school games like 20 Questions and the Alphabet Game can be entertaining, but eventually children will want something else to pass the time on the road. Before every road trip, I allow my kids to purchase one travel craft to bring along. A plastic travel soap box holds crayons nicely and can be used on every trip. Buy a special toy or two for each vacation but keep a separate stash of hidden travel toys to keep old favorites fresh.
Road trips with kids can be messy. A plastic grocery bag keeps trash off the floor and seats. I hang the bag in the backseat from the front arm rests. This enables my kids to deposit their juice boxes and snack wrappers into the trash themselves. Bring a few along so you can toss refuse at pit stops.
If traveling with a baby, toddler or preschooler a bucket is a road trip must-have. Why? In case of car sickness or sudden boat of stomach flu. Older kids can probably manage just fine with one of those plastic bags but young children aren’t great at aiming and shouldn’t handle plastic bags due to suffocation hazards. A simple plastic beach pail should do the trick.
Road Trip Playlist
Sure, you can listen to the radio. But a road trip playlist makes the miles more fun. Create a mix CD with family favorites or create a playlist for your smart phone or device, if your vehicle can play smart tunes through its speakers.
Audio books on disk (or via smart device) keep imaginations active and families entertained on the road. Save money by borrowing some fun books from your local library before your next road trip.
Pack some healthy snacks and drinks for the journey. Suggested items include: fresh and dried fruits, cheese sticks, trail mix, and whole grain crackers and cereals. Pace your timing. Slowly give these out to your children throughout your ride to get the most bang for your snack bucks. You may want to bring along (or stop to buy) a “forbidden” treat or two to use as incentive for good behavior.
It’s important to stow a pair of scissors in your car’s glove box for safety’s sake. Children sometimes do silly things when mom and dad aren’t looking…like get themselves tangled up in their seat belt. This can lead to strangulation. Read about firsthand experiences with seat belt near-strangulation accidents here and here.
Roadside Emergency Kit
You should always keep a roadside emergency kit in your car filled with bandages, medicines, a flashlight, and other useful items. Often these come with the vehicle, or you can purchase a pre-filled kit.
When Puffs sent me a sample of their new Puffs Softpack, I immediately knew this soft-sided, box-free pack of tissues would be a wonderful thing to store in the car for road trips and every day drives. Puffs come in handy for runny noses, messy snacks and spills. Normal tissue boxes are too bulky to fit, but the Puffs Softpack fits perfectly in a car’s glove box or seatback pocket.
Is there anything else you think we should add to our road trip with children packing list? Let us know in the comments below!
A Note from The Travel Mama: This post brought to you in partnership with the makers of Puffs Softpack. I will receive compensation related to this post. All opinions are mine, as always.
Top Photo purchased from Canva.com. Bottom photo by the makers of Puffs Softpack.