Prepare Your Kids for a Long Road Trip With These 6 Pointers

By Martin Banks

Children dislike long drives for various reasons. Extended periods of inactivity bore them, inducing discomfort and restlessness. Enclosed space can be challenging when they can’t stretch their legs and move freely.

Unfamiliarity with the surroundings and limited access to amenities — such as bathrooms and play areas — can be stressful. A road trip also disrupts their routine, affects their sleep and causes motion sickness.

However, taking your little ones on a long-distance journey is practically inevitable. Regardless of your travel’s nature, you must prepare your children and yourself accordingly before you hit the road.

Use these six tips to make the experience as comfortable for them as possible.

1.   Leave Early

Road trips can take longer than expected due to emergency mechanical failure, unexpected heavy traffic or adverse weather conditions. Driving with young children can cause more delays. Kids can be impatient and prone to tantrums in certain situations.

For these reasons, adding buffer time to your estimated journey length would be wise. This way, you can make unplanned stops to accommodate your children’s needs without feeling pressured not to reach your destination on time.

2.   Keep In-Car Refreshments

Being in a vehicle with hungry children is a recipe for chaos. Their appetites can be unpredictable, whether or not they break their usual schedule.

Bring snacks and beverages with you to let your kids refuel when they desire. In-car refreshments can save time and spare everybody from frustration, especially when you’re tens of miles away from the nearest restaurant, convenience store or gasoline station. Eating is an effective distraction, helping keep your children busy and less cranky.

Put the refreshments somewhere easily accessible, like a shoulder bag. Pack what your kids like to ensure they’ll eat them. Better yet, let them pick the goodies.

3.   Set Regular Stopovers

Select the best route — which may not necessarily be the fastest — where you can schedule multiple stops to give the whole gang a break from the drive. Although making several stopovers will prolong your journey, it will turn an arduous car ride into numerous shorter — and more tolerable — trips.

4.   Incorporate Fun Activities

Including road games in the equation can make your long-distance journey more fun and encourage your kids to get out of their comfort zone. The prospect of deviating from their routine and doing something new can be daunting for your young ones. Give them something to look forward to by promising engaging activities.

Only some activities are suitable in a moving car, though — and building Lego bricks isn’t one of them. Aside from granting your children more screen time to keep them entertained for hours, play classic games, like 20 Questions, and initiate a road trip scavenger hunt and a car color search. To make your activities more interesting, prepare personalized rewards for challenge winners to entice them to play.

Moreover, give your kids the role of navigators. Ask them to look for landmarks and determine how much distance you still need to cover to arrive at your destination by following your route on a map.

5.   Have a Picnic Lunch

Spend lunchtime in a park or on a playground, where your family can relax with the sight of greenery, breathe fresh air and eat in a shaded area. Either location gives your children space to run around and drain their batteries before returning to the road. Tiring out your kids can help them sleep in the car, allowing you to enjoy some peace and quiet.

6.   Plan for Messy Contingencies

Carry cleaning supplies to address food scraps, juice spills and potty accidents inside the car in transit. Contain and seal garbage and soiled clothes in reusable, waterproof bags. Keep fresh garments handy to help your children change and feel comfortable quickly.

Make Your Long Road Trip Feel Shorter

While sitting in a car for hours can be tiring for everybody, it’s more of a hassle for your kids — so be patient with them. Time will seem to fly when you anticipate your children’s needs and make your extended drive less stressful with these tips.


Martin Banks is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modded. He covers the world of cars, driving, tech, and more.

Editor’s Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the National Motorists Association.

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