Summer road trips can be fun; however, it can be hard to keep the kiddos entertained while driving to your vacation destination. When I was a kid, we used to have three day road trips from Wyoming to South Alabama. Those were in the days before DVD players were in the car, so it was up to our walkman, games of I Spy, and books to keep us entertained.
My mom always packed a little bag for each of us kids, with a new pack of crayons, a color book with whatever character or thing we were interested in at the time, our favorite snack, and usually a book or another small toy. As the road trip went on, we would get to get something out of our bag for being good. It was a smart plan on my mom’s part because we wanted to see what our next “prize” was so we behaved. Now that I have kids of my own, I do something similar and my girls love it. I’ve also learned to always pack some items that both save money and my sanity.
8 Must Have Items For Summer Road Trips (with Kids):
1. Seat Belt Pillow
Have you seen these seat belt pillows for kids? They are super cute, and take up way less space than a normal pillow. If it’s a long road trip, and the kids are sleepy, the kids can easily take a nap. Don’t forget their favorite blanket or stuffed animal.
2. Backseat Organizer
Be sure you have a Backseat Organizer to keep clutter at bay in the backseat. There are backseat organizers with a spot for a portable DVD player, toys, and some even have a place for cup holders, boxes of tissues, and more! You can get one as elaborate or as simple as you’d like to keep the backseat from being as chaotic.
3. Color Books/Travel Games
No matter how long summer road trips last, I’m sure you will here “Are we there yet?” a few (thousand) times. Keep this at bay by keeping the kids entertained. Use color books (I suggest the color wonder ones to keep messes at bay), small travel games, puzzle books, a portable DVD player, books, and other “quiet” things to keep them entertained. Don’t forget the extra batteries for the games and headphones to keep it quieter!
You can even get creative and make a “travel bingo” game, or another fun game. I also like to surprise my girls with a new book they have been wanting or a new coloring book with their favorite character. It goes a long way in keeping them entertained because it is new.
4. First Aid Kit
You always have to be prepared when traveling with kids, and summer road trips are no exception. Having a First Aid Kit on hand is not only smart, but it will also save you money in the event you do need band-aids, antibiotic cream, gauze, or another item from the kit. If you have to stop for a couple of these items, it can become costly (especially if you are used to using coupons). You always pack it hoping you will not need it, but you have it just in case.
We keep a variety of snacks with us when we go on a trip. It’s much cheaper than purchasing a snack every time the kids get hungry or every time we stop for gas. I try to keep a variety of good, healthy snacks along with some more “fun” snacks on hand when we travel. I usually have peanuts, granola bars, apples, bananas, and fruit snacks. (These banana holders keep the bananas from getting bruised.) I also pack a small ice chest with bottled water, juice boxes, and water flavoring. Just doing this can save you quite a bit of money, plus your sanity when your kids are getting the grumpies because they are hungry (or maybe that’s just mine).
6. Trash Bags
From previous summer road trips, I’ve learned to keep an empty Target bag with us. We can throw away snack wrappers, broken crayons, and any other trash we need. Then when we stop to get gas, we throw away the trash bag, and start a new one. It keeps the vehicle cleaner, and keeps us from finding a melted granola bar in the cup holder later (which is super messy!).
7. Baby Wipes
Even if your kids are a little older, you can still use baby wipes to clean hands, clean up messes, and much more! I always keep a pack of baby wipes in my vehicle just in case we need them. We use them so much, I have to put a new pack in every couple of months.
8. Beach Towel
Even if you aren’t going to the beach, having a towel in your vehicle is a smart thing to have on a summer road trip! If your child gets cold and forgot their blanket, you can use the beach towel. If your potty training child has an accident, you can use the beach towel. If you have a spill, you can use the beach towel. If someone gets car sick and throws up, you can use the beach towel. There are so many things you can use it for and it is there “just in case”. I recommend purchasing a cheap one that you don’t mind getting messed up. (You can usually get these on clearance in August for super cheap.)