Traveling with kids can either be fun or torture and sometimes even both. By having a good plan you can make it easier on the kids and easier on you. Long distance car trips can make planning easier because of space, but can also be long and difficult for children. Younger children can be even more difficult than older ones, but with a good plan everyone will make it through and maybe even have a little fun along the way!  

Kids at the Rest Stop(89573)Credit: Susanna KarthCredit: Susanna Karth

Traveling with Babies

Traveling with babies can either be really easy or really difficult depending on your baby and how far you will be going. However, if you are careful, plan ahead, and give yourself plenty of time you can make it through.

  • The first thing you need to do is make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make it where you need to go. It is likely to take you longer with a baby then it would without him or her. The baby is likely going to need to eat more often and stop to do that, is going to need their diaper changed, and may just need to be reassured that the world is find and that you are still there.
  • You should also make sure that the baby is comfortable. You want to make sure that he or she is not too cold and not to hot. Do this by dressing them correctly and giving them a blanket when needed.
  • They should also be comfortable. Make sure they are strapped into their seat correctly and that the straps are not too tight.
  • You should make sure that you are ready to feed them as normal. If they are young and you are breast feeding, this is really easy. If they are bottle fed or they are eating solid foods then you should have more than enough supplies to make it through the trip and you should consider packaging to make feeding them as easy as possible.
  • Entertaining a baby is easier than an older one. You can give them a visual toy hooked onto their car seat, can play soft music, can put in a movie (if you have those capabilities), or you can give older kids toys that are large and easy for them to hold. Changing these things out more than once on a long car trip can make it easier to make it through.


Traveling with Toddlers and Preschoolers

In some ways toddlers and preschoolers are easier to handle on long trips and in other ways they are harder. They are more likely to understand that you are going somewhere, they won't need to eat as often, and they can even have fun on the trip. However, they can easily get board, struggle with sitting so long, and can get over tired even with napping. The good news is there are a lot of ways to provide them with a lot of things to do that can help you out.

  • You should still plan to make a lot of stops. For those who have already been potty trained you may need to stop even when not planning to to meet their needs. You will also want to give them a chance to get out of the car, to run around, and to get rid of some of their pent up energy.
  • Speaking of getting out and running around, when you do stop for a break you should come up with some sort of game or a small exercise session to help them stretch out and to get them moving. This will help tire them out, will keep them from getting sore, and while it won't prevent them from getting grumpy it can go a long way towards helping.
  • Make it an adventure. Small kids can have a lot of fun on the trip if you make make it fun. Tell them where you are going, why you are going there, and what you will see on the way there.
  • Build an adventure kit. Whether you just set up a bag next to each young child or you get one of those fancy activity tables that fit over car seats and booster seats you should build up an adventure kit. There are lots of things you can put in there. Include puppets or small stuffed animals, coloring books, regular books, crayons, pipe cleaners to make sculptures, and magnets that attach to a metal tray. You should have your kids pick out a couple of items to put into the adventure kit and you should have some that they don't know about.
  • Playing music, books on tape, and or videos can also be a great way to help them make it through.
  • Simple road games can be fun. All you need to do is adapt it to the ages of the kids. Some options include looking for a specific sign, lights, or trees.
  • You should also make sure that you have a lot of snacks that are easy to hand back to the kids and that the snacks our ones they will enjoy. Don't forget the drinks.  

Marcus at the Rest StopCredit: Susanna KarthCredit: Susanna Karth

Traveling with Game School Kids

Older children can do a better job communicating and that can make road trips a lot easier. You will still want to make sure that you take the time to meet their needs. The good news is that the older the kids get the easier it is to feed them in the car. Here are some things to consider.

  • Most of the ideas from the younger kids can also be used for the grade school kids. Just make sure that you have age appropriate items, games, and plans ready.
  • You should also help them pick out a chapter book that might interest them and that is in their reading level.
  • Pick up some travel games or a book of travel games. Learn how to play before you set out so that the trip.

Traveling with kids doesn't have to be a nightmare. You can do it with young children all the way on up and you don't need a lot of electronics to do it. All you need is a bit of time, a little money, and some careful planning and you can make it a few hours all the way to a several day car trip.