We travel a lot by car and with kids! We usually take a two-day trip between Sofia and Sibenik twice a year (8 hours a day in the car for two days). We also often visit Italy and other European countries. At this point I start preparing automatically a week or so before the trip. The evening before we start our new journey I equip the car with entertaining and food options for the little ones. So, here are all the things you need to bring on a road trip with kids.
First and foremost, on the road you have to be patient with kids (as always, actually). It is not easy to go through a long distance in a vehicle with kids, but it will be even harder if you are nervous and impatient with them. This road trip will pass, as everything else, so keep calm and enjoy your family time together!
Silly food, new food, food that they don’t usually get – there are so many options!
What I bring on the road is usually a combination of homemade cookies and not that healthy snack options. I have prepared cookies for the last five or six trips and everybody loves them, so it has become a family on the road tradition at this point. I also get unusual stuff that we don’t usually purchase. Lollipops and empty ice cream cones are my kids’ favorite snack when traveling. You may get them a snack that they are not allowed to have at home.
3. New stuff
New is always better, at least on the road with kids! New books, new coloring books, new pencils, a new toy or doll with a reasonable size. Anything new will catch your kids’ attention. One time I got Anna a cheap blue whale bath sponge from Lidl which happened to be a great success! She played with it for at least an hour.
If you are not willing to spend money on new stuff, bring out something old, but forgotten. I usually hide away some toys to reintroduce those months later. Even if the kids remember them, they are still happy to see them again and treat them as almost new.
4. Decorating activities are a must
Printed activities or coloring sheets
Printing some coloring sheets has always worked excellent on our road trips. In theory, it shouldn’t be that different from a coloring book. In practice, my kids feel different about printed activities and sheets. I usually print some characters that they are into at the moment. Or I print black-and-white pictures of them which they then color or decorate.
You can introduce all kinds of content by preparing and printing something yourself. It may be related to activity your child likes. They like preparing muffins – print them some muffins to decorate. It can also be some content related to your trip. If you are visiting a new city, try printing coloring pages about it.
Sometimes technology can be your best friend on the road. As much as we parents try to prevent too much screen time, it can literally save your kids from boredom and complaining on the road. We allow our 5-year-old to play on a tablet three or four times when we spend eight hours in the vehicle, so her screen time is around two hours altogether. This is a lot, but when we are on the road, different rules apply. We also play videos to our 2-year-old if she gets really nervous in the car. Every kid loves technology and playing game, so they will definitely appreciate more screen time when traveling.
I also have a great tip how to apply technology without screen time – play an audio book to your kid. Plus, the headphones can be the new thing your kid gets on this road trip. Listening to books is not appropriate for toddlers, but it sure entertained our 5-year-old.
What else would you bring on the road when traveling with children? In the meantime, check out what is like traveling with kids and grandparents.