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roadtrip with kids

6 Survival Tips for a Summer Road Trip with Little Kids

Keep hydrated

Pack refillable water bottles for each family member and either freeze them the night before or put in ice cubes before you leave the house. The water will get hot quickly in the car and this will keep everyone cool and happy. We use Thermos brand FUNtainers for our daughter as they keep her drink cool for up to 12 hours way after ours have gotten warm.

Feed the beasts

Pack a cooler bag for the back seat with healthy snacks that won’t deteriorate over the drive. We always include apples, trail mix, nut bars, rice crackers and cheese and crackers with an ice pack. I also recommend packing everything in either Ziploc bags or reusable containers for grazers to slowly make their way through during the day.

roadtrip for kids

Entertain the masses

Our daughter has an iPad, which we load with her favourite TV shows and movies and games that will occupy her for a long time. An iPad battery will last roughly four hours, as we found out on our last trip, so even if you are bringing electronic devices, you’ll need to pack more. Our five year old loves magnets such as the travel sets from Tiger Tribe, sticker books and “Water World” colouring in pads that use only a water pen. All mess-free! I always have a brand new set of one of these activities ready for long trips so she’ll be occupied for longer.

We also play audiobooks in the car, such as Matilda, or CDs with songs our daughter likes, and play I-Spy when we’re driving through an interesting area.

Prepare for everything

In the back seat, we always keep a bag with a first aid kit, wipes, hand sanitiser, spare clothes for our daughter, sunscreen, a hat and anything else important that she might need on the drive to save us rooting through our luggage in the boot in desperate times.

roadtrip with kids

Research your stopovers

With a road trip, the journey is just as important as the destination. A few days before I open Google Maps on my computer, put in our destination and home, and look at potential driving routes. I then take note of the big towns and do a quick Google search on each.

On our most recent road trip, for example, the search for “kid friendly Bathurst”, yielded information on an adventure playground and old fashion ice cream parlour, which made it our top stopover destination for the day.

Stop frequently and quickly

Once you’ve decided on the main places that will make for a fun stopover, take note of the predicted driving times between each of the planned points. With small children in the back you’ll need to stop for bathroom breaks every hour or two, so keep an eye on the time and driving distance covered, and when you do stop for the bathroom, be quick about it. Keeping these breaks from eating up too much time will mean spending longer at a more fun location where the kids can actually run around and expend energy.

roadtrip with kids
Christine Knight writes about navigating the world and parenthood on her site, Adventure, Baby!. You can find her sampling gelato and cake around the world with her preschooler, or building sandcastles at the beach in her home town of Sydney.

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