When you're traveling with little ones, road trips can be a big undertaking. At Hugalongs, we are all about making every day an adventure, and road trips are an amazing opportunity to make long lasting memories for kids! But to make the planning a little easier, we've put together a list of pro tips and tricks so that you can just focus on getting where you're going!
1. Stock those snacks.
Ample snacks will keep the front and back seats happy for those long stretches of road. Having the kids make a grocery list for their own snacks and putting a backseat helper in charge of distribution are ways to make them feel involved in the trip planning process, too! Our big tip here is to keep the snack pack somewhere easily accessible--it won't be much help if it's in the trunk or underneath piles of suitcases! Our essential snack packs include our kids' current favorites, but they also include cleanup materials like napkins, wet wipes, and paper plates to minimize crumbs! Pro Tip: Instead of packing plastic water bottles, invest in refillable water bottles and remember to fill them up when you stop!
2. Utilize audio content.
Get creative and you can really engage kids using audio content! Here are some of our favorite ideas!
- Have A Movie Singalong: The most important thing in the car is finding things to fill time, so try listening to an entire album and making a game out of it rather than picking and choosing songs! Most Disney movie albums are about 40 minutes long!
- Play "Guess That Song!": This is a game and an audio content idea rolled into one. Pick random songs that the kids and drivers are familiar with, have someone play DJ, and then play the song until someone guesses what it is! Bonus points if they can guess before the first line is sung.
- Listen To An Audio Book: Audio books have gotten so popular, and you can get them on Audible, Spotify, Apple Music, etc. You can find books of all lengths for kids, just make sure to download them before leaving the house in case service gets spotty on the road!
- Listen To A Made-For-Kids Podcast: There are so many podcasts for kids now, it can be hard to choose. For stories, we recommend the Stories podcast and Purple Rocket Podcast. For the kid who always asks, "Why?," we recommend But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids and Brains On! Science Podcast for Kids.
- Listen To Hugalongs Guided Audio Adventures: Why not fit in some mental fitness training on-the-go with our guided audio adventure stories that incorporate mental fitness training exercises into fun stories featuring our Adventure Buddy Papap Pony.
3. Invest in headphones.
When it's time for the drivers to pick the music, you'll thank yourself for packing headphones so the keeps can keep listening to their own tunes! Listening and engaging as a family is important, but you can only hear one song so many times before it starts to drive you crazy! This way you can listen to whatever you want to without complaints from the backseat.
4. Bring a buddy!
Road trips can cause a lot of anxiety for the drivers in the front and the kids in the back seat. Stuffed animals are known to help with anxiety, and they can serve as an extra pillow-like object for when the kids are ready to knock out! Our favorite buddy to bring on road trips is Papap Pony--this stuffed toy is super snuggly and has an adjustable strap so the kids can bring it out of the car and wear it around town, too! We opted for the Adventure Set that comes with Papap Pony and the Meet Papap book, just so she would have an extra activity in the car! You can check out the bundle here!
5. Plan pit stops!
Stretch breaks and bathroom breaks are frequent and necessary on road trips with kids, so make a game out of planning for them! Kids love to feel like they are a part of the planning process, so when you are previewing your route, try making a simple interactive map for them! We suggest planning to stop every 2 hours, so find creative places along the way for meal breaks, stretch breaks, bathroom breaks, and gas fill-ups! Then, simply print the map, highlight the whole route, and circle the stops you plan on taking! This will give the kids a guide to follow along on, and it turns the whole trip into a game where they can mark off checkpoints!
6. Stick to the classics!
There are so many games out there that are designed to keep little minds busy on a road trip, and you probably already know them! I Spy, the License Plate Game, and the Alphabet Game are some classics that are sure to keep the kids busy and engaged with the world around them (which is always a plus in our book)! If you need a refresher on how to play any of the old classics, this article from Great Wolf Lodge is a great reference. If you play your cards right, the kids might get excited for the next road trip just because they get to play these games again!
If you need fresh ideas, try looking up some simple improv games. One Word Story is always a hit (each person in the car says one word to build a story, and round and round it goes), or a vehicle version of Freeze Dance could keep them entertained for a while!
7. Sync drive time with their sleep schedule!
This is a great tip for when timing is a little more flexible. You know your kids better than anyone, so why not work the trip around when you know they'll be falling asleep? If they are hard to get out of bed in the morning, try leaving early and letting them fall back asleep once they are in the car! If you don't mind driving at night, try to get some of the longer stretches of car ride out of the way right at their bedtime. This cuts some of the stress out of constantly needing to do something to entertain them, and it allows for some peace and quiet for the driver!