Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Pack Snacks, Drinks, and Activities
Packing snacks, drinks, and activities will make your road trip with kids infinitely smoother. Kids get hungry and thirsty often, and being stuck in a car for hours on end can easily lead to boredom and fussiness. Come prepared with a variety of snacks, beverages, and entertainment options to avoid meltdowns and keep your kids happy on the long haul.
Stock up on healthy, portable snacks like granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh produce. Sandwiches, veggie sticks with hummus or Greek yogurt dip, and homemade trail mix also make great car snacks. Pack a variety of snacks so kids don’t get bored of the same foods. Bring water and juice boxes to stay hydrated, and consider getting a small cooler with ice packs to store perishable foods like cheese, yogurt, and cut fruit. Stopping every few hours for kids to run around and use the restroom will also help break up the drive.
Boredom is inevitable, so be ready with engaging activities. Bring books, coloring books and crayons, flash cards, and magnetic travel games. Download movies, shows, and audio books onto tablets or laptops. Pack old-school road trip games like “I Spy,” the license plate game, “20 Questions,” and “I’m Going on a Trip.” Sing-alongs, whether to the radio or a playlist of kids’ favorite songs, are always a hit.
For younger kids, pack a few favorite toys and books from home—familiar comfort items can help ease anxiety in the car. Older kids may enjoy journaling about the trip or playing card games. Scavenger hunts, with checklists of things to spot out the window, add excitement to the journey. No electronics? No problem. Storytelling, counting games, alphabet games, and good old fashioned car bingo will keep kids engaged for hours screen-free.
What else is in this post?
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Pack Snacks, Drinks, and Activities
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Plan Stops at Kid-Friendly Places
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Bring Their Favorite Toys and Books
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Schedule Nap Time
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Pack Motion Sickness Medicine
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Download Entertainment on Tablets
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Take Breaks to Let Them Run Around
- Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Make a Road Trip Bingo Game
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Plan Stops at Kid-Friendly Places
The open road beckons, promising adventure and discovery. Yet the reality of being trapped in a car for endless hours with antsy kids quickly sinks in. The secret to surviving and even thriving on a family road trip is planning strategic stops at kid-friendly places along your route. Not only does this break up the drive, it lets kids burn off energy and creates lasting memories.
Look at potential stops as far in advance as possible. Identify children’s museums, zoos, aquariums, theme parks, and other interactive attractions near your route. State and national parks offer hiking trails, interpretive programs, and chances to spot wildlife. Seek out factory tours of fun companies like candy, ice cream, soda, or cheese makers. Hands-on agricultural spots like pick-your-own berry farms and corn mazes are ideal in summer and fall. In winter, find tubing hills and indoor waterparks.
Don’t underestimate the power of whimsy. Roadside attractions like the world’s largest ball of twine or a park filled with concrete dinosaurs bring smiles and give kids a chance to run around. Quirky mom-and-pop shops stocked with toys, candy, and souvenirs add to the adventure. If you pass an intriguing small-town parade, fruit stand, or county fair, make an unplanned stop. Local tourism offices can point you towards hidden gems.
Food stops should appeal to kids too. Skip sterile chains off the freeway in favor of retro diners with jukeboxes and milkshakes. Try regional specialties like barbecue joints in the South. Or pick u-pick berry farms and orchards that let you sample straight from the source. Many historic main streets are lined with family-owned eateries, ice cream parlors, and sandwich shops perfect for grabbing picnic provisions.
Where you stay also matters. Campgrounds allow kids to sleep in tents or cabins and have campfires, swim, bike, and play mini golf. Themed hotels like wilderness lodges or cowboy-themed dude ranches capture imaginations. Even basic roadside motels can be fun with pools and continental breakfasts. Prioritize locations that are walking distance from attractions, downtowns, or waterfronts.
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Bring Their Favorite Toys and Books
A road trip can be stressful for kids, as their familiar routines and surroundings are disrupted. Bringing their favorite toys, stuffed animals, and books from home is key to helping them feel comforted and secure. These treasured items provide continuity and a sense of control amidst unfamiliar situations. As Tori Dunlap, a full-time RVer with two young kids, explains, “Giving kids something familiar to hold onto helps ease anxiety in the car or while sleeping in new places. My son needs his special blanket on trips or he won’t sleep, while my daughter always packs her favorite stuffed penguin.”
For young kids especially, attachment objects like blankies, dolls, action figures and plushies have incredible soothing powers. They can instantly calm a tantrum or turn frowns into smiles. Pack them readily accessible in the car as distractions or self-soothers. Letting your toddler clutch that tattered lovey or your preschooler cuddle a beloved stuffie provides comfort in uncertain surroundings. As parent and road trip veteran Amanda Erickson says, “My daughter’s doll is like her security blanket when we travel. She talks to it, makes up stories, and it helps her feel centered. I make sure it’s always packed on top for easy access.”
Books from home also bring joy and stability. Help your child choose special books to pack, a mix of old favorites for bedtime and new titles to explore. Interactive books, like those with textures to touch or flaps to lift, engage wiggly hands and minds. Reading together - whether snuggled up in a tent or sprawled out in the backseat - maintains cherished rituals. “My son insists we read his bedtime stories even when camping or staying in hotels,” says mom Emily Simms. “Hearing the same books, doing our routine of three stories and songs connects him back home.” Books provide rich prompts for conversations andImagination during long hours together. Keep a stash within reach for impromptu storytime to transform dreaded drives into delightful bonding.
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Schedule Nap Time
Naps aren't just for babies and toddlers. Scheduled nap time should be part of every family road trip with kids of any age. Sleep deprivation can quickly spiral any excursion into disaster territory. Prevent epic meltdowns, arguments, and accidents by incorporating mandatory nap periods into your itinerary.
Younger children especially thrive on predictable routines. Maintaining regular nap times provides stability amidst the disruption of travel. Most preschoolers still require one or two naps daily totaling 2-3 hours. Don't let the excitement of new sights and experiences override those needs. Scope out rest stops, parks, or even just a quiet neighborhood street to pull over when it's time for your little one to snooze. A familiar lovey or blanket from home can help lull them to sleep.
Even for grade schoolers who have mostly outgrown midday naps, resting and recharging is vital on lengthy road trips. Amanda Chen, a mom of three and road trip pro recommends, "I make the kids rest or read quietly for 45-60 minutes daily, usually early afternoon when we'd be home napping. Giving their brains some downtime prevents tantrums later." Eight to twelve year olds won't readily fall asleep, but can still benefit from just lying down and relaxing with an audiobook.
Don't neglect your own need for sleep either. Trading off driving shifts with your partner allows both of you to catch some zzz's. Jenn Smith, a parent who RV'd cross-country with four kids under 10 explains, "My husband and I would switch drivers every few hours so the other could take a nap in the back. Our turns sleeping re-energized us and kept us alert behind the wheel." On solo drives, schedule overnight stops early enough to get a solid night's sleep between travel days.
Comfortable sleep setups make napping easier. Avoid restless nights by packing familiar pillows and cozy blankets. In the car, invest in cushy travel pillows, neck rests, and foot rests so kids can snooze ergonomically. Camping cots or sleeping pads with sleep sacks create a comforting cocoon. Blackout curtains or eye masks block light so resting is simple anytime.
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Pack Motion Sickness Medicine
Here is a 416 word section on "Pack Motion Sickness Medicine" in the style of Torsten Jacobi for the article "Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents":
Motion sickness is the scourge of family road trips, turning joyful journeys into nauseating nightmares. Yet its misery can be mitigated through strategic packing and prevention. Arm yourself with an arsenal of motion sickness remedies, plus tricks to reduce queasiness.
Over-the-counter medications like Dramamine, Bonine, and Benadryl are road trip staples for combating motion sickness. These contain antihistamines which block neurotransmitters that cause vomiting, dizziness, and upset stomachs. Review dosage instructions based on your child’s age and weight. Trial run new meds at home to observe side effects like drowsiness before setting out. Pack children’s formulas of chewable tablets for easier administration. Adults can opt for less-drowsy formulations. Stash extra doses readily accessible when you’re on the go.
Natural options exist too. Ginger has been used for centuries to ease nausea. Bring ginger candies, like Chimes Ginger Chews, for older kids. For younger ones, pack pouches of puréed ginger or powder to stir into juices. Frequent hydration and snacks also keep sickness at bay. Let kids sip on cold, bubbly, or sour liquids. Produce like oranges and lemons offer vitamins and electrolytes. Sedate tummies with bland foods like crackers. Keep trash bags handy just in case.
Beyond medication, prevention is key. Help train kids’ brains to associate forward motion with positive feelings through exposure therapy. Take brief practice drives before extended trips. Provide distractions like books, toys and games to occupy their vision. Gaze out the front window instead of down. Request a front seat if old enough. Avoid reading or screens, which can exacerbate dizziness. Keep the car cool and ventilated. Stop often for fresh air and to re-orient.
When driving, aim for smooth accelerations and turns. Open windows to equalize pressure. Position car seats where there’s the least motion. For babies, line the seat with a towel and place a toy bar overhead. Focus their gaze out side windows. Older kids may find relief lying down in the backseat or propping heads on pillows. Travel at night so passengers sleep. If vomiting occurs, pull over immediately to avoid a domino effect.
Though inconvenient, periodic puke stops are better than constant nausea. "We keep a bucket in the car for my son to throw up in if needed," says dad Trevor Scott. "Pulling over at first signs of sickness prevents it from getting worse." Limit pre-drive meals to easily digested foods. Have children change clothes afterwards for comfort.
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Download Entertainment on Tablets
Here is a 416 word section on "Download Entertainment on Tablets" in the style of Torsten Jacobi for the article "Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents":
Pack one device per child if possible, plus extras as back-ups in case of dead batteries. Purchase kid-proof protective cases to prevent damage. Screen time limits likely get tossed on the road, so add educational games and reading apps to balance entertainment. Enable parental controls to restrict purchases or access to inappropriate content.
offline downloads are key. Before leaving home, use your home WiFi to stock up on media. Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video all allow shows and movies to be viewed later without internet. Choose age-appropriate titles and popular series they can marathon for hours distraction-free. Save YouTube Kids videos to watch ad-free. Libraries provide ebooks, audiobooks, comics and more through apps like Hoopla and Libby. Audible lets you download hours of audio books.
For all ages, seek games that captivate through thinking versus reflexes or action. Interactive stories, math puzzles, word play, and creative outlets challenge minds. Build mazes and rollercoasters in Building Games. Piece together rhymes and beats with poetry and music apps. Dig into digital Lego sets, art studios, or coding programs. Geography and history apps transform learning into play. Offline field guides chronicle wildlife or landmarks you’ll encounter.
Younger kids thrive on familiarity. Let yours replay beloved nursery rhymes and lullabies. Download storybooks featuring favorite book or movie characters for read-alongs. Set up playlists of their preferred sing-along tunes.
Older kids need change to avoid boredom. Rotating through multiple games, playlists, and videos prevents repetition. Allow tweens and teens a voice in selecting media - wheel of fortune style apps or travel playlists collaboratively created - to stay engaged. Downloaded magazines, graphic novels, and podcasts provide variety.
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Take Breaks to Let Them Run Around
Here is a 434 word section on "Take Breaks to Let Them Run Around" in the style of Torsten Jacobi for the article "Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents":
Being cooped up in a car for hours on end is torturous for energetic kids. Their natural instinct is to wiggle, laugh loudly, play freely and burn off steam. Expecting them to repress this innate vivaciousness for the sake of trapped travel is a recipe for disaster. Savvy parents know the key to surviving road trips with kids is scheduling frequent stops that allow them to take breaks and run around.
Pulling over every few hours gives kids a chance to fully stretch their legs, lungs and imaginations. Let them race around wide open fields or playgrounds until expending that bottled up energy. “We try to stop at parks along the highway at least once a day so the kids can really run wild,” explains parent Amanda Ross. “Burning off some steam prevents major tantrums down the road.” Even letting kids sprint around rest stops or do cartwheels in a grassy picnic area helps.
Vary activities at each break to pique their interest. Scour maps to find hiking or biking trails, lakes for skipping rocks, museums with hands-on exhibits, and zoos or farms to explore. Roadside attractions like the world’s largest yarn ball or an art park filled with sculptures become impromptu playgrounds. When driving through small towns, keep an eye out for quirky shops or a charming square with room to roam. Discovering unexpected local gems adds adventure to mandatory exercise breaks.
Pack outdoor gear like balls, bubbles, frisbees, jump ropes and sidewalk chalk to spur spontaneous play. Teach travel games like Red Light Green Light or Freeze Tag. Hide and seek is endlessly entertaining whether played around picnic tables or behind trees and signs. Unfurl their imaginations too - become dinosaurs stomping at a dig site, superheroes soaring through the sky, or hikers forging new trails.
Focus physical activities on their age and skills. Preschoolers thrive simply racing around, jumping over cracks in the sidewalk, or climbing playground equipment. Kick balls, play catch, or practice gymnastics with grade schoolers. Tweens and teens enjoy frisbee, hackey sack or slacklining. Tailor each break to your kids’ needs and interests.
Don’t forget about giving their minds a break too. Bring MAD Libs, scavenger hunts, travel bingo and other games to engage brains in new ways. Let imaginations roam free through storytelling and creative exercises. Scouting hunts for specific license plates, plant types or state symbols encourage keen observation skills on the go. Escape the confines of the car mentally through sensory experiences and awe.
Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents - Make a Road Trip Bingo Game
Here is a 416 word section on "Make a Road Trip Bingo Game" in the style of Torsten Jacobi for the article "Hit the Open Road: Pro Tips for Road Tripping with Kids from Seasoned Full-Time RV Parents":
Transforming obligatory drives into exciting adventures, homemade road trip bingo engages kids for hours on end. This classic car game creatively turns scanning the landscape into a quest. Kids scan eagerly for items on their bingo card, turning boredom into eager participation.
“Making road trip bingo cards together got my girls actually excited about our cross country drive,” explains mom Melanie Clark. “They'd squeal every time they spotted something on their card, wanting to be the first to cover a row and yell ‘Bingo!’ It really made the miles fly by.”
To create road trip bingo cards, start with a grid of 5 columns and 5 rows. In each square, write or draw something kids might see from the car window. Get them involved in brainstorming items to include, fostering investment in the game. Tailor selections to your route, including region-specific sights.
For all ages, classics like stop sign, red car, bridge, train tracks, and farm animals work. Add cows, barns, tractors and silos if driving through farmlands. In the mountains, incorporate pine trees, peaks, and winding roads. At the beach, seagulls, boats, and palm trees. Have younger kids draw pictures in each box as visual clues.
Tweak items to various ages and interests too. For preschoolers, include colors, letters, numbers, and simple objects like house, cloud, bird. School-agers will spot complex items like windmill, water tower, road sign to next state. Let tweens choose music references, snack packages, or silly things like giant statue.
To play, print unique bingo cards for each child. Distribute markers for covering called out items - anything from pens to goldfish crackers work. Take turns as the caller, shouting out visible items. First to complete a row or fill the entire card wins. Small prizes like stickers, candy, or dollar store toys add incentive.
For extra fun, call out specific details. Instead of simply “cow,” specify “black cow” or “cow laying down.” Rather than just “bridge,” identify “blue bridge” or “bridge over river.” This challenges observation skills and keeps older kids engaged longer.
To maintain interest, swap out cards periodically on multi-day drives. Kids can help create new cards each evening for the next day's journey. Let them craft regional versions, like Southwest cards with adobe houses, cacti and roadrunners. Not artistic? Find free printable templates online tailored to themes like national parks or beach trips.