What I Pack for a Road Trip with Kids
“How much longer?”
Said parents and children on every road trip ever.
We’re more of a plane than a road trip family. I think Lilly’s motion sickness has a lot to do with that. I can’t tell you how many car trips have involved puke. But, also because we usually choose places far from home. Whether it’s Texas, Florida or Georgia, we’re in the air. We even flew to North Carolina for a few summers. Of course, this year, everything is different.
More on our trip to the Outer Banks soon. But, first, a much requested post on everything I bought, used and did to entertain our kiddos for 9 hours, twice!
First, we are not anti-screen time. To the contrary. We have and old school entertainment center, an extensive collection of DVD’s and I always pick up a few new ones for the drive. I’ve found iPads make Lilly more sick than the traditional screen. (Side note: We now give Lilly Dramamine before every trip.)
When we fly, I stuff their backpack with books. But, unfortunately, that makes her sick too. So I have to get creative on the road. Every hour or so, I break out a new (or old) activity. It keeps them interested, stimulate, engaged and less prone to ask the dreaded, “are we there yet?” But, I make them wait for each one. Even if the last one only lasted 5 minutes, they don’t get another one right away. The can close their eyes, look out the window, watch a movie, we can play a car game like Eye Spy or Finish the Sentence. But, no new activity until the next hour.
Same goes for snacks. We ration them out and there has to be something healthy in between more of a treat. We bring a fully stocked Yeti with yogurt smoothies, cheese sticks, veggies and fruit to even out the chips, crackers and cookies. We of course have a ton of wipes, napkins, towels, bags, etc. But, I’ve also found it helpful to have some plastic cups to portion snacks, if they’re not in an individual bag.
We also brought our own bedding to the Outer Banks. Since we normally fly, that’s not an option, but even with past road trips it’s remained at home. With Covid, we felt more comfortable having our own. And, from now on, every road trip to come, we’ll do it. It was such a nice touch and made sleeping away from home so much more enjoyable.
Back to car activities! Below, some ideas…
I like to give them their own pencil box (clear ones here) filled with little toys and trinkets, a mini notepad and mini pen. (I like the retractable ones because there’s no losing the damn cap!) Twistable crayons are always a good option too.
Sensory stress relief bands are fun and open-ended while calming every one down. I borrow them too!
And then I put in little cars for Oliver and little figurines for Lilly.
OTHER CAR ACTIVITIES
I love a lap desk. I found our new ones at Target in the Bullseye Playground. I think they were $5. If you can’t find them at yours (I couldn’t find a link), I’ve included some other, probably better quality ones here.
In addition to plain old paper and markers, we like a good travel doodle. This drawing mat is great too. A spirograph is a good idea too. And Lilly loves these Fashion Plates. Along those lines, I have this design book saved for Lilly for our next trip. Color by numbers (unicorn, Trolls, Avengers) are always fun too.
Sticker books are a huge time suck for us. Both of my kids love them, Oliver especially. The First 100 Stickers is good for toddlers. As are the Big Stickers for Little Hands series. Lilly loves the Paint by Sticker books too. And this Dolly Dressing vacation edition is one of her favorites and on theme. 😉 I personally like this STEM one.
Traditional coloring and activity books are guarantied winners. I love this coloring book for girls. Like wise, this one for boys. This one is totally gender stereotyping for boys, but Oliver would love it so… (this one is more his age though). And this is gender stereotyping for girls, but, again Lilly would appreciate it. I also love the idea of a relaxation coloring book. Who couldn’t use that?! Not my children!
I gave Lilly this Uni the Unicorn activity book for our trip. I’m thinking about getting her this 50 States one for the next trip. She received this fun mini book for her birthday (another version here). You can never go wrong with some good old fashioned Mad Libs.
We’re huge fans of Water Wow. This Secret Decoder is good for older kids (Lilly’s age). Hidden Pictures take a lot of time and quiet concentration too. If you don’t have a car sick kid, Look and Finds are great too. And, we’re huge Where’s Waldo fans in our house so this is definitely making the next trip.
These magnetic puzzles are fun as are these letters. And, magnetic scenes have kept Lilly entertained for awhile for years now. I love the Take ‘N’ Play series too. (Fair warning: with both, it’s easy to lose pieces and can become a pain for kids in car seats because it’s often you who is reaching down to find them.)
And, then of course, there’s always the old, free classics like Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe and how many words can you form with a big word. That was my favorite as a kid and Lilly loves it too. Nerds unite!
I hope some of these helped.
Happy road tripping!
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