10 Tips for a Stressfree Family Road Trip


We travel  in the car with our three boys throughout the year.  Our trips are anywhere from 3 to 4 hours up to 15 hours. And even with packing all the extras, we still have our moments when the kids argue or are tired of being in the car.  Here are 10 things we find help make our family trips easier and smoother.  Let us know what you do to make your trips easier for your family in the comments below.


1. Bring Headphones

Stressfree Travel with Kids- Headphones

Whether your kids are listening to a movie or music, sometimes one child wants to listen to a movie while another one wants to sleep and if you have enough headphones for everyone in the back rows, you can accomodate everyone.  And in my husband's car, the movie system plays the sound through the front speakers so if we want it quieter up front or want to listen to music instead of the movie, the kids need to use headphones.  Headphones have helped keep the peace on many roadtrips.

2.  Bring a DVD player for long trips and DVDs your kids enjoy or rent a few movies from Redbox that can then be returned at another redbox along your trip path.

While I do not want my kids watching movies the entire trip or on a short ride across town, movies do help pass the time on long road trips and keep the kids entertained.  Of course it helps to have a few movie options for the kids or a new movie or two that will keep their interest in the car.  And of course sometimes our three boys won't agree on the same movie and when that happens we let each one take a turn picking the movie.


3. Pack Waters in Spillproof Cups

Travel with kids Stressfree- cups

I love having cups with lids for everyone in the car, even the adults.  You never know when there will be a sudden stop and the cups tumble.  Also it helps keep my car clean so that liquid is not

4. Bring an extra galloon or two of water so you can refill everyone's water cups and if you have to stop for a meal you can drink water which is both healthier than soda or flavored drinks and saves your family money.


5. Bring Pillows and Small Blankets for Your Kids

Stressfree travel with kids- pillows

Inevitably on long trips someone will get cold or hot in the car.   So I've found packing blankets and pillows for the kids and passenger help to make sure everyone is warm and comfy enough.  And yes, even if the blankets look the same the tag has each childs' initials on them so we know which blanket belongs to which child.

6.  Pack flipflops or slip on shoes nearby so when you do stop kids can quickly locate and get on their shoes.  When we make a quick bathroom stop and one of the boys cannot find a shoe it can be frustrating as one child is screaming that they have to go to the bathroom badly and another one is still searching for a shoe.  Or they have to put on their socks and shoes.  We have learned to put a pair of flip flops near the door so they are easily found.

7.  Pack a sweatshirt and socks and have them accessible in case your kids get chilly on the drive.  We always have sweatshirts packed but sometimes they get packed away in the kids bags.  We have learned those go in last on top of all the bags so we can easily located and grab them if one of our boys requested them.

8. Pack healthy Snacks, Fruit and a Few Favorites


Stressfree travel with kids- food

I try and pack as many healthy snacks as possible.  Some of the easiest and favorites are apples, clementines, grapes, celery and baby carrots, snap peas and bananas and nuts.  And I always pack a few snack foods the kids like to give them once they've had some healthier snacks.  I like packing the food in an easy to see in cloth bin or container.  I also pack a small cooler bag we can access from the front and middle row. 

9. Pack Extra Cups to put small snacks in so its easy to pass out and for the kids to hold or put in a cup holder spot. I have tried baggies, individual snack packs,  and other containers but I've found sturdy plastic cups work great to fill with fruit, crackers or other snack items.


10. Keep Extras on Hand  of paper towels, napkins, straws, wipes, change, and bags.   In case you have a spill or messy child the paper towels and wipes are invaluable.  And extra napkins, plastic utensils, and straws in case you grab food to go and they forget to give you them.  If you child feels sick you will need a plastic bag or two just in case and when you hit toll roads you will be happy you had change on hand to make it easier for the driver.


Here are a few other helpful tips:

  • Bring a few travel size magnetic games (ex.  chess, travel bingo, etc)
  • Pack a few colored pencils and pad of paper-  kids can draw, or play games like tic-tac-toe, or write a story
  • Hang small tote bags on the back of the front seats for kids to put their own special things in the car and keep the items organized


by Kristin Fitch


10 Tips for a Stressfree Family Road Trip