A road trip with young kids can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! With a little bit of planning, you can make the experience enjoyable for everyone. We’ll help you put together a packing list for a road trip with young kids and make sure you remember all the things you would normally forget.
We sold our house, took a year out and decided to start the year off with a huge European road trip. We went through France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands. We saw everything from crystal clear waters and clear white sand to quaint alpine villages and coastal towns. It was absolutely amazing.We lasted almost 3 months. It was absolutely amazing overall – but as with anything with kids, the ups are high and the downs are low. Would I do it again? HELL YES. But differently. I would prepare differently. I’ve listed below 6 tips on road tripping with young kids.
Make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand.
This hack is twofold; first, it will help keep your kids from getting hangry (which we all know can lead to massive meltdowns – which are 10x when they are in the car). Second, it will help keep them occupied while you’re driving. Things like fresh fruit are often readily available (and probably better) in hotter climates and portable. Paired with a nut butter can add some protein and healthy fats for a more filling snack. You can get these peanut butter squeeze packs to save you carrying a giant heavy jar of sticky peanut butter. Granola bars, trail mix and dried fruit can make a great snack for kids. Of course you must assess these on a case by case basis and determine choking risk based on your child’s age.
What we used…
Bring along some road trip friendly activities.
Again, this will help keep them occupied and prevent them from getting bored. Colouring books and crayons are always a good bet for a road trip, or you could bring along some small toys for them to play with. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that won’t make too much noise or create too much of a mess.
We had these activity tables and packed them full of activities like books, stickers, water colouring and fidget toys. Don’t give them everything at once, kids will get bored of the same toys quickly. Have a box in the back with toys and alternate when you feel the toys are no longer entertaining them. Swap them out, do not add otherwise you’ll have a car swimming in toys and every time you make a turn, you’ll have 5 singing toys to accompany you on your road trip.
What we used…
Make frequent stops on your road trip.
Not really a hack, just a super important tip. This one is crucial if you want to avoid a meltdown (yours or theirs). Kids get bored very easily and this is no different on a road trip. Set aside a whole day and plan to get a max of 4 hours of driving done (per day). The likelihood is it will take you all day. Frequent stops will give everyone a chance to stretch their legs, use the toilet, and just take a break from being in the car. Trust us, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Have a road trip toilet plan
Kids never need to go to the toilet when there is one readily available. I’ll never understand why. Embarking on a road trip with young kids can be challenging. And of course when they do need to go, it’s always NOW. Have a plan for accidents or when your kid just needs to go and there’s nowhere to stop. We carried a travel potty with us and also had a little portable wee cup. I pray you never have to use them. We avoided using them and obviously tried to find a loo, but sometimes you just have no choice. In 3 months we used them about 3 times.
What we used…
5. Have a first aid kid handy
I pray you never have to use this. But it’s a complete must have whether you’re driving for 10 minutes or on a longer 10 day family road trip. We have this one. This is great because they come with a pack of stickers too for when they have been extra brave. There are so many on the market, just pick one and stick it in the car.
6. Consider vehicle size for your road trip
We have a Mercedes GLE and a roof box on top. This was great for us on our road trip(family of four) and we had plenty of things with us. The roof box was a blessing and a curse. We could fit so much in the car and carry lots with us, but it obviously added height to an already high car – meaning we were restricted in terms of parking options.
If you have a smallish car, I would consider renting a larger one. Or perhaps opt for a motorhome rental so you don’t have to worry about accommodation or city parking hear hotels/apartments – simply find a motorhome campsite nearby and park up! This is what I’ll do next time we embark on a huge road trip – which we are hoping will be soon!
Road-tripping with young kids has a bad rep – but it can be a really fun and bonding experience – as long as you’re prepared! By following these simple tips, you can make sure that your next road trip is a success. So what are you waiting for?