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Road Trip Essentials: What to Pack When Traveling with Kids

traveling with kids

Everyone looks forward to summer vacation: school is out, work slows down and it’s the best time to plan a few trips with your family. Whether they are short trips for a weekend away, or a long flight across the country, traveling with kids is a challenge, so here are some tips to help you prepare for your next summer outing.

Listen

With the pull of social media, it’s nice to find something to do in the car so that kids spend time looking out the window instead of staring at a screen. Downloading audio podcasts is a favorite of ours for long road trips. Look at Common Sense Media for age-appropriate recommendations. Find a biography, a book-on-tape (like the Penderwicks, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle or James and the Giant Peach), or choose from the seemingly endless list of riveting TedTalks (about everything from Bees to Creativity), and time will fly by.

Read

Many schools have a summer reading list, so road trips and flights are the best time to get going on reading homework. If books aren’t holding your child’s attention, try checking out magazines from the library. Little kids will love Ladybug and Spider, and our all-time favorite is Stone Soup. Also try books with riddles or poems like Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein or science books like Exploratopia by San Francisco’s Exploratorium.

Play

Any version of Taboo is a great road trip game, and even the drivers can play without taking their eyes off the road. Similar to Password, one person tries to get everyone else to say a word by saying anything except the “taboo” words listed on their card. It’s tricky and encourages some creativity. And, there’s always the old-fashioned license plate game that can keep kids busy for hours. Everyone in the car keeps a list of all the states they can find represented by license plates on passing cars. It’s easy to change the game depending on the ages of the kids: after older children find a state, they can name the states that border it, or name the state’s capital. Also try homemade travel board games like travel tic-tac-toe or a marble maze. You could also pass the time by sewing your course on a map, then you can keep the map later as a souvenir.

Eat

Of course traveling with kids is never easy without snacks to help perk up weary minds and pass the time. Pack more than you think you’ll need, and include a variety of healthy snacks, dips and treats. Try these energy bar and bite recipes, full of protein, easy to make (many are no-bake) and store, and low in sugar. Cut fruit or a selection of veggies and dips are also great road-trip snacks. For a longer trip, try these healthy lunch ideas. Pack your snacks in easy-to-clean, leak-resistant stainless steel containers. Don’t forget to bring water in glass water bottles. It will also be handy to have your reusable bottles and containers at your destination for family outings.

Photo courtesy of SuperShuttle.