How to Take Kids on a Road Trip
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Here Are Some Tips for Parents While Traveling With Kids


American families love to take road trips to spend their holidays. In fact, 73 percent of Americans would rather drive than fly, according to a 2019 study done by OnePoll for Ford. Driving is often cheaper and more accessible than going through a crowded airport, especially when flying with kids.

But while a long summer road trip can be a great way to get to know each other, spending too much time in a car together can be hard. Younger kids can get bored and antsy when they watch long stretches of boring scenery, and eating too many snacks can make anyone feel tired and grumpy. Here are some tried-and-true ways for parents to make family road trips less stressful and more fun for everyone.

Best Kids and Family Vacation Destinations in the USA

1- Use Mobile Apps for Planning and Entertainment

How to Take Kids on a Road Trip

With the right apps, a family trip can go from “meh” to “wonderful.” For parents, there’s DealNews for freebies and Foodspotting to help you find new places that local guidebooks and “top 10” lists might not have picked up on yet (think: fewer people). is the best way to find places to stay that have things for kids to do. With the free app, it’s easy to book a place to stay. Spotify and YouTube have a lot of music for kids, including thousands of songs and sets.

Mobile games like Minecraft, Animal Crossing, Super Mario Run, and many more can keep people in the car busy. Smule, a singing app, Road Trip Bingo, Geo Touch, a fun and educational app about geography, and Road Trip Travel Games, a collection of kid-friendly road trip classics like Slug a Bug and Cloud Shapes, are all mobile games made for road trips.

2- Play Offline Car Games

People went on road trips before cell phones or iPads were invented, and you can bet that parent kept their kids from fighting in the backseat by playing versions of the same famous car games that are still played today.

I Spy is a must-have for car trips. The first player says, “I spy with my little eye something…” and then gives a hint about something they can see that the other players have to look for. People also like to play the Alphabet Game, in which they try to find things that start with each letter of the alphabet. The State License Plate Game is a great way for school-aged kids to pass the time on cross-country trips and learn the names of the states. To play, make a list of all 50 states and have your kids try to find a car with a license plate from each one. This is like a backseat version of a treasure hunt.

3- Gather Toys and Tools for a Trip That is Good for Kids

Gather Toys and Tools for a Trip That is Good for Kids

When traveling with kids, it can be hard to keep them from getting bored in the back seat. It can also be hard to keep them from making messes and making too much noise. There are a few car toys and planning tools that can make it a little easier to deal with, though.

Crayola’s Color Wonder Art Kit is a mess-free option to regular markers and crayons for young artists. Its colored pages come with stampers and special markers that only show up on paper, not on skin, clothes, or your car. Trains, planes, and police cars can all be moved around on travel bingo boards. There is no need for stamps or chips. There are also Mad Libs and sticky checkers that are made for car trips.

Target has things like seat-back bags, trash cans, and dishes that fold up which can help you keep things in order. If they don’t, some people eat their meals on the go out of bathroom caddies or put cupcake liners in cup holders to keep them clean.

4- Manage Car Sickness

Manage Car Sickness

Speaking of problems, a lot of kids get sick in the car, which can be another problem. If you think someone in the car might get car sick, it’s a good idea to bring some throwaway bags (if possible, medical-grade ones). But before you use them, try to stop feeling sick with ginger or peppermint food products, which have been shown in studies to help avoid nausea, and by putting the person who feels sick in the front seat so they can see the sky. Drivers don’t get car sick as often because they use their physical skills when they drive. Also, the front seat doesn’t move as much as the back seat. Some foods may help with sickness, but in general, eating less helps keep you from getting sick. Foods that are spicy, for example, can make the feeling even worse.

5- Find Alternatives to Junk Food

Find Alternatives to Junk Food

Since fast-food chains are cheap and easy to find, it’s easy to get stuck in a fast-food rut when you’re on vacation. But with a little thought, you can find healthier solutions that are just as cheap and will please kids just as much. When your family is on the go, look for grocery stores like Whole Foods and Kroger that might have meat stands or salad bars, local farmers markets, or food trucks, which you can find with the TruxMap app.

You could also keep a bag full of picnic food, healthy snacks, and low-sugar drinks so you don’t have to rely on food stops along the way. Choose a great scenery pull-off where you can stretch your legs and enjoy a pick-me-up.

6- Stop to Cool Off

Stop to Cool Off

Don’t forget that getting there isn’t everything. Stop often at odd highway sites like the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Utah’s dinosaur tracks, or Roswell, New Mexico’s alien artifacts. Even though these stops add time to the trip, they are always fun and give kids a chance to get some exercise, which is important for them.

You could go even further and look for these places along the way. Wild Blueberry Land is in Maine, Dinosaur Land is in Virginia, and Paul Bunyan Land is in Minnesota, among other places. There are water parks in almost every state, so bring your swimsuit and stop at one along the way to cool off.

7- Visit National Parks

Visit National Parks while road trip

The best family road trip will show your kids the natural beauty and variety of the U.S., whether it’s the barren plains of the Southwest, the green pine woods of the Pacific Northwest, the beaches of the East Coast, or the mountains of Colorado. Find out if there are any national parks near the route of your road trip and make the effort to stop and check them out. Wallace Stegner, a historian, once said that the national park system was “America’s best idea.” More than half of the states have at least one. There are more than 400 of them all over the country.

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