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Spring is upon us and family travel season is about to begin, which means lots of car trips.  Keeping kids from getting bored is the trick to an enjoyable trip.  My family is about to embark on a 9-hour car ride. Just the sound of it is overwhelming. But I know that a little planning ahead will help to make it fun. I am also looking forward to getting to spend some quality time with them.  Our hectic schedules make it really hard to find a chunk of time to focus on each other.

Travel Bags

I know the key to success on travel days is to keep the kids busy and engaged.  I put together these “busy bags” of activities and snacks for each of my two sons (you can see a tutorial for how to make these bags on my blog Cupcakes and Cutlery).  This post is based on my sons and their likes so, make sure to tailor these tips to your own children.  I include coloring books with new crayon packs, books of mazes and other activity books.  While they have seen some of what they will get to play with in the car, it is important to keep some of it a surprise. I know my kids spend more time with things that are new than things they have seen before. And don’t forget to save a few surprises for the return trip!  The great thing is, these new items do not need to be expensive and most dollar sections and stores carry items perfect for this. Here are my tips for happily getting where you need to go and creating memories along the way.

Fun Activities

While my boys enjoy normal boy things, like toy cars, tools, and Sky Landers, they also have individual interests that I want to make sure to focus on.  While the bags mostly include the same things, it is ok to vary them in order to make them age appropriate and interesting.

Fun activitiesComics

Travel Items

The more excited they are to go on a trip, the easier the long car ride will be.  Buy a few inexpensive travel items to give them ahead of time so that they can help prepare for the trip and start getting excited for their final destination.  Keep your ears open to the things they are looking forward to on vacation so you can bring it up when the car ride starts to feel really long to them.

toothbrush savers

Snacks and Sweet Treats

We will stop somewhere along the way to eat lunch, but I will be packing a lot of snacks.  My sons are always hungry. Try to find a balance of healthy and treats.  I picked up a few snacks that they don’t get to have all the time as a special surprise. And I will be keeping the licorice up front with me in case I need extra motivation for them to stop whining. (wink). Make sure to pack water for everyone, but regulate how much they are drinking or else your trip will turn into a 12-hour trip due to potty stops. And because my oldest son has food allergies I will make sure to bring along items to make a quick sandwich (a few KING'S HAWAIIAN dinner rolls and slices of roast beef) should I not find anything at the truck stop for him in the middle of nowhere. 

snacks

The Essentials

And because I like to plan ahead rather than have to deal with something on the fly, I will also be packing baby wipes, tissues, beach towels, trash bags, Ziploc bags and a change of clothes for each of the boys so they are easily accessible. Please note that I have added a small piece of washi tape to the bottom of the lip balm. I will pick one color for each boy and mark all their items with it so they can easily keep track.  

Essentials

Creativity & Games

Like most kids my boys are obsessed with their electronic devices. And while I will make sure they are all charged up in preparation for the trip, I want to make sure that they have some non-screen time as well.  My kids have really funny imaginations and I plan on tapping into them with toys and thinking games.  Here is an amazing site for travel-related printables and games. I’m excited to play 20 questions and the different scavenger hunts to really engage them and create memories.

creativity and games

Traveling with family

A Travel Playlist

And of course, there will be music during the trip.  While I have music that I love and the kids have artists they enjoy, it is important to create a mixed playlist so that everyone is represented.  If you don’t want to take the time to create a mix, be sure to bring music that you know they like and trade off.  I clearly remember wanting to throw my dad’s cassette tapes out the window on a road trip.  I’m hoping to not leave my kids with those kinds of memories. 

How do you prepare for a road trip with your kids?

travel bags