Little boy in the middle of an empty road, jumping, with views of hills behind him.

Taking a Family Road Trip? How to Keep the Kids Entertained

by Iris Goldsztajn

As warmer days approach, many of you may be starting to plan your next vacation. If you’ll be forgoing faraway destinations this spring and summer for a much-deserved family road trip, you might be a little concerned as to how on Earth you’re going to keep the kids entertained and happy for however many hours you plan to drive. Don’t worry! As long as you come prepared, a road trip with kids can be a great bonding experience for your family. Here are some ways to make sure it all goes smoothly.

Don’t Forget the Essentials

Lots of unexpected things can happen over a long trip, so make sure you’re equipped with all the road trip essentials before you start. It’s smart to keep a first aid kit in the car — whether that’s a store-bought one or a DIY pack filled with bandaids, antiseptic spray and paracetamol, plus any vitamins your family takes. You can also pack some activities for the kids, like coloring books and magazines filled with connect-the-dots and word searches, colored crayons, and some actual toys too. Don’t forget to check that everyone’s favorite stuffed animals and dolls are on board!

Pack Lots of Snacks

Hungry kids are grumpy kids, so forget snacks at your own peril! There’s plenty of room to get creative with healthy road trip snacks — we love Kelly from Eat the Rainbow - Kids for some fabulous multicolored inspiration. If you don’t have the time to follow recipes, there are so many options for prepackaged healthy snacks you can choose from. Try fruit and nut bars, baby carrots, pretzels, string cheese, veggie chips… Make sure everyone has a filled-up water bottle, too.

Teach Them Some Games They’ll Love

Road trip games are fun at every age, so get the whole family involved in some classic car-ride activities. Why not try the License Plate Game, where the person who spots the most states by your destination wins? Or are the kids not into state-spotting? I Spy is a classic for a reason, as is 20 Questions — where one person thinks of a person, place or thing and the others take turns asking yes-or-no questions until someone guesses right. You can also have the kids make up their own game for all of you to play.

Turn It Up to Eleven

Anyone who’s ever been to summer camp knows that there’s nothing quite like belting your heart out to some catchy tunes with all your friends (or in this case, all your kids). There’s no right or wrong when it comes to road trip songs — just blast whatever music you all love and sing along. Good times guaranteed. Alternatively, use the car radio to play some kid-friendly audiobooks to keep them entertained with exciting stories.

Map Out Some Cool Pit Stops

ids and adults alike need to stretch their legs and use the bathroom over a long car journey. But you don’t have to default to whatever’s on the side of the road when the kids start to get antsy — instead, map out your journey beforehand and see if there are any fun or weird attractions you can visit. We’re particularly intrigued by the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA, and the Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, ID.

A road trip with young kids can feel a little intimidating, but with a few tricks up your sleeve, it can be a truly lovely time to connect with your family and make memories. Happy driving!

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Iris Goldsztajn