6 Tips for Family Road Trips

Family vacations are such a great way to experience new and exciting things together, create life long memories, and hopefully allow everyone to relax from the normal day-to-day routines as well. Travelling by car offers a wonderful way to see our country up close and personal, and also allows you travel at your own pace and schedule.   

However,  long car rides can prove to be quite an arduous journey with little ones. I've collected a few tips and tricks guaranteed to ensure your journey starts on the right track.

1) Plan ahead for success: A few days before you are set to depart, start a list of everything you'll need to pack for your trip. You're less likely to forget something if you've made a list ahead of time and check it off as it gets packed. Bring the list along in your baggage in order to check off items (perhaps in a different color) to make sure you bring everything back home. 

2) Remember to bring medication like Tylenol, Motrin, saline drops or cough/cold medicines as well as plenty of any prescribed medicines. If jr. even seems a little sick - get to the Doctor for a check up before you leave. Chances are, your doc will write you a script 'just in case' the condition worsens (esp. if you're travelling out of state).

3)Put time on your side and plan your travel around your children's eating/sleeping schedule: If you are traveling with a wee little one still solely on milk, plan to leave just after a feeding. If traveling with an active toddler, plan to leave either an hour before a scheduled nap OR just after a meal so you can get several miles behind you before you need to stop again. We always bring some recorded instrumental lullaby type music to encourage a restful nap/quiet time atmosphere for the car.

4) Bring along some healthy snacks (limit the sugar) to keep away the cranky/hungry related crabbies. Some of our favorites are gold fish crackers, peanut butter Ritz bits, trail mix, raisins, and cereal bars. Bottled water is also a good idea not only for thirst but also for cleaning up unexpected messes along the way.

5) Plan for stops along the way - Unfortunately, it takes you longer to get there, but it can make the trip much more bearable for children. Getting out to stretch and get their wiggles out and look at the scenery is sometimes all they need to get them through to the next stop. We try to bring along an outdoor toy or two like balls or a Frisbee if the weather is nice for these stops.

6) Speaking of entertainment, make sure to bring along plenty of small toys, books, and game ideas to keep passengers occupied and engaged. I prepare a small back pack for each child containing a few favorite toys.  I also wrap up some (previously purchased) dollar store surprises in newspaper or wrapping paper to dole out along the way.  I usually purchase one suprise to unwrap for every hour we'll be on the road. Consider packing a few art materials like crayons, drawing paper and coloring books, and stickers in a cake pan with a lid. Not only will it provide storage to hold items, it will also provide the child with a hard, flat surface to create on.

Make a visit to your local library a few days before you leave to pick out a few new books to read. Books on tape are also a great way to pass the time in the car. A portable DVD player can be a super sanity saving tool for occasional diversions on extra long trips.

Click on the links below for some printable travel game ideas!


  1. AnonymousJune 23, 2011

    Great tips, Heidi! I like the idea of the cake pan with the stickers, I hadn't thought of that before. And the idea of doling out the presents one at a time is genius. We've only done a couple big roadtrips and last time I made the mistake of just handing them a bag filled with all the cool stuff I packed, and they ripped through it and made a big mess and didn't fully appreciate each thing. If I had paced them, I think it would have gone better.

    Great post!

  2. Heidi! I totally didn't know your organizing blog was up and running this much, and I am so excited that I just subscribed! :) This was an awesome post, and it has fun and fresh ideas to make those trips fun! I will be using many of them as we travel to see you on our rescheduled trip! :) Love you so much and thanks for your wonderful friendship / patience / understanding!

    You! ARE! Fantastic!

  3. Great site very informative I enjoyed it thank you…cheers Peter


Thanks for reading!

If you have a specific question, I would love to connect with you via email: