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9 Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy on Weekend Family Roadtrips

Sharon Monticello

Sharon Monticello is native to one of California's most picturesque areas— Petaluma, nestled in the heart of wine country, has been home to Sharon's...

Sharon Monticello is native to one of California's most picturesque areas— Petaluma, nestled in the heart of wine country, has been home to Sharon's...

Aug 2 5 minutes read

It’s finally the weekend! Have you got a family road trip planned?

We all know the question “Are we there yet?!” is something every adult who steps into a car with a child should be prepared to hear. The good news is, a little prep work before your anticipated trip will pay off in helping you get those kids occupied, happy, and (relatively) quiet while traveling.

Of course, keeping the kids calm and busy during a road trip isn’t only about saving your sanity. Remember that distracted drivers are UNSAFE drivers. The more you spend solving fights and looking in the rearview mirror, the less time you can devote to monitoring traffic.

So, before climbing in for a few hours of travel with the family, check out these nine tips to keep everyone safe and happy during your drive.

Set the Right Expectations

Letting your kids know ahead of time how you expect them to behave during the whole trip is such a simple concept yet an effective one. Don’t feel hesitant to give your kids boundaries, no matter how young they are. Share each day’s agenda with them and let them know what the family rules are. Just make sure that the rules you create are patterned to your children’s ages and temperaments.

Bring Toys

Everyone likes toys– whether they’re the traditional kind like puzzles and dolls or handy-dandy electronic gadgets. Stash a wide array of assortments in the car as you can, and be sure to think outside the box. Frisbee and soccer balls work wonders during wayside stops, and they give your kids a fun activity to anticipate during the drive. You can also try bringing magazines and novels, or listen to audiobooks if it’s more convenient.

Reward System

If things aren’t going so well, don’t be ashamed to use the power of a bribe. Giving your kids an incentive to clean up their act will surely help your case! Let them know that not complaining for the next hour gets them a stop at an ice cream store and that a whine-free morning means getting to pick where to eat for lunch or which attraction to see first that day. A reward system will encourage your kids to be on their best behavior, and it will also let you enjoy a peaceful trip from here on out.

Don’t Skip The Stops

It’s so easy to become wedded to a planned itinerary, especially if there are time elements involved. But if you’re obliged to drive for long stretches with kids in tow, it’s critical to schedule some fun. Stop at a neighborhood park to let your kids play for a bit. Let them stretch and tire themselves to avoid restlessness while on the road. Remember, unplanned stops make the day’s drive much more exciting and rewarding.

Let The Kids Have A Say  

Kids whine and complain about things that are forced on them, like eating veggies– or long car rides. Get your kids vested in your trip ahead of time to avoid any conflict during the drive. Carve a few hours or days out of your itinerary and hand them over to the kids. Let them dictate when and where you’ll stop and for how long. It may mean stopping at each one of the next five waysides, but it’ll surely be worth it if they’re quiet during the time in between. Meanwhile, older kids can map out an entire day, select a driving route, and plan all the stops and activities.

Keep The Music Playing

Create a music playlist the whole family will listen to during your long drive. Music is a great way to maintain a cheerful mood inside the car. Ask your kids for the titles of their favorite songs and include them in your customized playlists. Singing will keep them occupied for a few hours, that’s for sure!


Eat Up  

No one likes to do anything when they’re hungry, especially not a kid on a long car ride. Time your meals carefully– if you hit the road at 7 a.m., don’t wait until noon before you stop for lunch. Aim for reasonably filling meals every four hours or so. It’s also a good idea to pack plenty of healthy snacks and drinks on hand for the hours in between.

Pack The Essentials

Motion sickness is the most common trip-induced ailment. It can cause dizziness, a queasy stomach, and, sometimes, vomiting. So if one or more of your kids suffer from it, make sure to pack plenty of preventive medicine along the trip. Remember to have your child take it at least an hour before you leave (and don’t forget a puke bag, just in case).


Search For The Best Route 

Before you stash the last suitcase inside your trunk and head out, it’s important to research the traffic patterns for your chosen travel destination and the best route to reach it. No matter how many games and treats you pack for your trip, kids will eventually get sick from all of it, especially if you’ve been in the car for too long, stuck in rush hour traffic.

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