Big Trips · Day Trips · Travel

How to Keep Your Kids Happy on a Road Trip

If you don’t know what to do with your kids this summer then there are several options. But one thing you can do is plan a road trip (and keep your kids happy)!

When it comes to long journeys, it can be quite exhausting for all and sometimes a little bit boring if all you are doing is driving from A to B. Some people are better equipped to long journeys and have no issue with sitting in the car for two hours just listening to the radio, but for others, particularly young children, a two hour long car journey might be a bit too long.

When all people are use to are half hour trips, anything longer can feel like a life time. We all get so used to having the shop down the road that we forget that things aren’t always just round the corner. I got use to driving for miles before I found anything remotely interesting – my first proper job took me three hours total of driving in the day, the “local” shop is just over 30 minutes away. You plan and you get use to these things.

But what happens when you’re sat in the car for five hours or longer, you can’t stretch your legs, you can’t move around and you can’t even recline the seat to get comfortable. Saying this, I’ve always been a big fan of going on a road trip with the family. We’d stop off at this farm shop off the motorway whenever we went up North and buy loads of food and it just kind of felt like the best experience ever.

We’d be all cramped in with the dogs and packed full of bags (safely of course), but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. We didn’t have those screen things to watch stuff in the car instead we simply played things like the alphabet game, yellow car, I lost the game and we even managed to do puzzle books without getting car sick in the back (how I do not know, but we managed).

We made it work and we had a brilliant time, so now, since I realise that a lot more people are going on a staycation and not travelling abroad (which is the right thing to do) now is the perfect time to give people some inspiration for how to make those long car journeys a little more enjoyable and not just a long slump where no one does anything.

Plan the Route Carefully By Including Stops

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When you know that you will be going on a long journey, you need to plan the stops you have. This includes how many and how long between each stop. With young children, you want to make sure that there are plenty of toilet breaks for them and that they’ll be able to let off some energy when they can.

The amount of stops needed will depend on how old your kids are, plus even adults need a break every now and again when they are driving. It’s important to make sure that you don’t tire yourself out when it comes to driving as you don’t want to end up causing an accident.

If you have quite active kids, then a stopover is a great way to help your kids let off some steam, you don’t want them to be screaming in the car or kicking the seat when the driver needs too concentrate in the front. So schedule in some stops when they can get out the car and run around for a little bit, it might just make the ride go a bit smoother!

Have Plenty of Food and Drink

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This goes hand in hand with having plenty of stops, as you can have a good pit stop and have some proper food when you do. But it’s not always full on meals that your kids want when they are stuck in the car with you, instead a simple apple snack is all they might need.

You’ll often find as well that kids (and adults) are happier when they’ve had the best road trip snacks or a full stomach, you don’t want to be caught out on the road and for anyone to be hungry or thirsty, it could cause a few avoidable tears. As a parent you should have a good idea of what your kid likes to eat anyway, so it won’t be an issue packing the car up.

But make sure you consider the nature of your journey, if you have space for a cool bag then great you can easily pack your snacks. But remember, if you put the cool bag in the back of the car you won’t be able to get to it easily when you or your kids want a snack, so make sure you keep food and drinks in the front when you can.

Bring healthy snacks such as cereals, crackers, fruit snacks, and even candies. Of course, don’t forget to pack bottled waters and other drinks!

Have Some Fun Games to Play

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When I was a kids, we use to play games like the alphabet game – pick a category, e.g. girls name and each say one. We would then also play a game where we used the first and last letter on a car reg. and whoever came up with the longest won. Even playing something like I Spy is a classic and can help pass the time for a little bit.

If you’re not really one to get involved, then invest in some good games for your kids to enjoy. If you wanted to, you could buy some cheap games and wrap them up before the trip to give your kids something to look forward to – why not find some fun travel board games, or a new fluffy toy?

Or if you and your kids are more technology inclined then there are plenty of “online” games you can get. It’s a lot easier nowadays anyway, all you need to do is make sure that their game, laptop or tablet is charged up and you won’t have to worry about a thing – whatever game you decide to do though will be the right one for you and your kids on your trip.

Set Some Expectations

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The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to going on a road trip with your kids is lying about how long the trop actually is. Kids aren’t stupid and lying to them really isn’t going to help anything. Of course, a baby or a toddler probably isn’t going to really know the difference, but older kids have a rough idea of timings.

So it’s important to make sure that you let them know what the plan is. Tell them when you’ll be leaving, when you’ll get to your final destination. Just let your kids know the lay of the land, and hold firm to them. For instance, tell them you’ll be driving from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with stops for lunch and rest stops. It sounds strange, but this works with most kids.

Give Them a Say

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To help make your trip go a lot smoother, it’s important to give your kids a say when it comes to your trip. Kids like to whine when they are forced to do things that they don’t want to do, like eating their vegetables, going to school and of course going in a long car ride.

So in order to help make them feel more comfortable with the long ride, let them know that they have certain amount of time in having a say for what they want to do on the ride. For example, they can say when they want to take a break or see a cool roadside attraction.

You can also let your kids pick out the music, and make sure that nobody else is allowed to moan about it. So even if all they want is baby shark or something, you put that on with a smile on your face. This tip actually works a lot better with older kids though, as they can also plan out the music playlist and it helps them feel a bit more in control.

So there you have it, several tips to help keep your kids (and you) happy on a road trip!

Do you have any tips that I might have missed? What do you do to when it comes to having fun on a long road trip?

8 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Kids Happy on a Road Trip

  1. You’ve provided some great tips here, I totally agree with the games one and food! Nothing wrong with going overboard with a lot of food haha. Motorway journeys can seem long, but having a game of eye spy, or the numberplate game is certainly fun 😁


  2. I remember one year it took us 8 hours to get from Bath to Falmouth because of all the road works – it was exhausting! Luckily Flora was old enough to use the iPad, and even more luckily we’d brought lots of snacks and drinks 🙂 Fab tips, especially breaking the journey with an attraction the kids want to visit.


  3. Fab suggestions here! I remember when I was younger, my parents gave me and my sister a bingo card of different images to spot during each journey, like ‘a red car’ or ‘cyclist’, etc x


  4. These are all great tips! I used to travel by car with my parents every summer, sometimes for 12 hour stretches and food and stops to feel your legs were the best things we could ask for, as well as lot of entertainment x


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