How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Family Road Trip

Family road trips can be a lot of fun if you and your children are fully prepared.  There is nothing worse than a child having a meltdown in the back seat, because they are hungry and you ran out of snacks.  Getting lost is another issue that can turn a fabulous road trip into a disaster. We drive a lot throughout the year and long to bring the kids along with us. We have driven locally, across Canada and throughout North America a few times. No matter if the trip was well planned or last minute, each time it was memorable.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Family Road Trip

Here are 6 tips that you can use to get the most out of your next family road trip:

  1. A few days before your trip is the perfect time to map out your route for your trip. Many times, there are multiple ways to reach a destination and you may want to choose the fastest route or the route where there is the least amount of traffic or road work. This is also a great time to find hotels, restaurants and possible rest stops along the way. Maybe even some touristy spots you can check out to stretch your legs.
  2. While you never want to over-pack for a trip, there are certain items that you will want to make sure that you have plenty of. These items include diapers, wipes, drinks, and snack items.  An extra set of clothes for each family member can also come in handy if someone spills something or someone gets sick or has an accident. Sunscreen and a camera are good to have as well.
  3. Illnesses never take time off when you are on vacation, so you will want to make sure that you have a first aid kit, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and zip up bags for anyone who may be sick.
  4. Everyone will need their own bag of activities for the drive. Your children can have items like coloring books, reading books, travel games, and a favorite stuffed animal.  Your bag can include a book or two, magazines, the newspaper, and a craft project like knitting or crocheting. The dollar store has a great selection of mini travel games that are perfect for travel bags.
  5. If you have a long drive for your trip, you may want to consider leaving in the middle of the night or really early in the morning. Your children can sleep in the car and you will miss a lot of the rush hour traffic in the morning. With the days getting longer, starting off just before the sun goes up will help you get a jump-start on your trip.
  6. There are multiple rest areas off of the major highways, but if you are on the back-roads, you will not find as many. When you are planning your route, you should find a few places to stop during your travels.  Children have a lot of energy, so big open spaces like parks or rest areas with a lot of space are good choices.  Each stop should be long enough to use the restroom and have about fifteen minutes to run around.  You will all appreciate the break out of the car and your body will thank you for the stretching and moving opportunity.

A few other things we found the kids enjoyed bringing are; their own camera ( a disposable one is great)., They can take their own pictures and will watch closely for anything that may be picture worthy in their eyes. A tablet or other device to watch movies and play games. I get it, you want your children to talk and look at the view, but for long drives entertainment is great. We also had a teacher suggest a travel journal for our youngest. This way she could document our trip and share with the class when returning to school.

Family road trips can take a lot of work to plan and execute, but the time that you will be spending together will be wonderful.  You may even be surprised at how well your children get along during this type of vacation.  Plus, before you know it, you will have reached your destination and you will have a few days before you will have to get back on the road again, as you are heading toward home.





  1. A bag of activities is seriously one of the best tips I ever received! It keeps my kids busy and happy for hours.

  2. Elizabeth Matthiesen says

    I agree that a bag for each child full of things for them to do that keeps them occupied is a must. These are very good pointers, and definitely plan enough stops so that the kids can get rid of their surplus energy by running around.

  3. Activities are a must and a stop at playground to run that energy off when the start to get bored,you be surprised what an 1/2 run can do.

  4. robin masshole mommy says

    When we take the 8 hour trip to DC, we leave in the middle of the night so we have a full day there when we arrive.

  5. Lots of rest stop to stretch your leg is a must for me! But yes rest stop with play ground is always a plus when travelling with children’s!

  6. These are all such great tips! We take a lot of road trips and I alway keep a overnight bag on top so we don’t have to dig everything out when we need change of clothes

  7. shaunatorres says

    What wonderful tips. I also like to pack brand new coloring books, crayons, etc for the kids. They tend to keep their attention longer 🙂 Ha! Thanks for sharing

  8. You MUST make sure your kids are entertained. Otherwise, you’ll be miserable for the entire trip.

  9. We are gearing up for spring break this year and will be headed on the road! Thank you so much for sharing these tips -I will taking all of them into consideration!

  10. These are great tips! I want to take a road trip just to stop at cool stops and world record places.

  11. Claudia Krusch says

    I will have to remember to get the kids a camera to use for our next trip. It is a great way to see the trip through their eyes.

  12. We will be going for a road trip this summer. I will have to try some of these great tips.

  13. I always like to map out our route and the stops we will be making on our way. It makes it less stressful when it is time to travel.

  14. We haven’t been on a family road trip in a few months. We definitely bring our own bags of things to do. Long gone are the days where the kids ask “Are we there yet?” over and over again.

  15. kristen visser says

    #3 on your list is so important and something I have to remember to do! pack those important items because you never know when or if you are gonna need them!

  16. We will be going to the beach during Spring Break. I love to make the kids a boredom buster bag full of stuff the kids can do when they start the are we there yet.

  17. These are all such wonderful tips. I wish I had more time to be able to travel more with my family. I just hope to be able to take a trip somewhere this summer!

  18. Family road trips make great memories. Thanks for the great tips.

  19. These are awesome tips! Will use these tips for our next road trip!

  20. Nancy @ whispered inspirations says

    Love the tips Kim! Haven’t done a family road trip in a while but I know for sure keeping the kids and yourself entertained makes the trip to your destination fly by!

  21. reesann723 says

    Perfecting timing! We are heading out in 2 weeks on a road trip to the south!

  22. nicolthepickle- Nicole Graham says

    Leaving in the middle of the night is a good tip.

  23. For our road trips when the girls were young, we made sure to pack a cooler with snacks and drinks, and made sure we had the portable dvd player and a couple magnetic travel games, and don’t forget the toilet paper and baggies for when you need to stop where there is no place to go!!

  24. Our family loves taking road tips! These are excellent tips!

  25. I love the idea of disposable cameras for the kids!

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