Our family does a lot of traveling via plane, so I have to admit that the family road trip often sounds intense. It’s not so much the trip itself, it’s the prep for it. I’m a pro at flying with kids and with a little practice and some road trip hacks, taking a road trip with kids is a blast too!
This is a sponsored post. All thoughts, opinions, and recommendations are my own.
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a FREE printable road trip checklist!
ROAD TRIP HACKS FOR FAMILIES
My biggest tip for your next road trip as a family is to make sure your car is prepared for the trip! Without it, you’re going to have an adventure that you might not want to have!
When you’re thinking of your planning, you might be thinking about packing, entertainment, and food. Those are also on our road trip planning checklist, but so many people often overlook prepping their vehicle and it’s so important!
PREP YOUR VEHICLE TO HIT THE ROAD
Before we hit the road, the first thing I always do is clean the car. I cannot even think about sitting in the car for hours without starting with a clean slate!
Clean the interior of your vehicle.
Get everyone involved in cleaning the interior. Check out some of my favorite car cleaning hacks to get your car prepared for your family road trip. It’s a much more pleasant way to kick things off. (And if your family is like mine, there will be enough garbage to clean up after just a few hours on the road.)
But there is more to making sure your car is prepared. A clean vehicle is so nice, but it’s also important to make sure yours is in good shape underneath the hood and more.
Make it a priority to check everything on your car at least a week or two before you plan to head out on your trip.
Check the tread on your tires.
This got us one year and left me scrambling for a new tire right before we were supposed to leave!
I also recommend checking that your tires are properly inflated. The family road trip includes our precious cargo so you want to be as safe as possible.
Top off all fluids.
It’s a bummer to run out of wiper fluid when you’re still close to home. And if you’re traveling in summer, I feel like wiper fluid is even more important. There are so many bugs!
Check your oil and all other fluid levels. The last thing you want to do is deal with that when you’re traveling.
Check your air cabin filter.
This is a new addition to our planning checklist.
I only recently learned about how important cabin air filters are for our vehicle’s ventilation system. They help keep air clean as it flows through the vents and into our car’s cabin.
Look at what I saw when I removed the air cabin filter that was in my car! It was in desperate need of replacement!
We deal with seasonal allergies and anything that can make my family more comfortable, especially when on the road for a stretch of time, is something I’m interested in.
I know my family will be breathing in clean air and that gives me peace of mind as a parent. If you or your family is struggling with asthma or allergies and plan to take a long road trip, I highly recommend checking your cabin air filter and replacing it with a FRAM TrueAir™ Premium Cabin Air Filter.
There are a few features of the FRAM TrueAir™ Premium Cabin Air Filter that give me confidence:
- Features innovative N95 grade filter media
- Captures 95% of harmful airborne contaminants, as small as 0.3 micron
- Filters out 99% of dirt, dust, pollen, and allergens as small as 3 microns
The best part is that I was able to replace our cabin air filter and I’m not a mechanic by any means. All I needed was my vehicle’s manual and a couple of minutes. I was shocked when I took out our old cabin air filter to install the new FRAM TrueAir™ Premium Cabin Air Filter.
It’s recommended that you replace your cabin air filter every 12 months to ensure optimal airflow and filtration efficiency. I’ve got my calendar marked! Summer is the perfect time to replace the old cabin air filter with a new one! You can breathe clean air every time you drive.
Learn more about TrueAir here!
FIRST AID, TRASH, AND TOLLS
First aid, trash, and tolls might not go together in your mind. But for me, they fall into that part of my mind where I tell myself not to forget about them and then promptly forget about them. So that’s why I include them on my travel prep checklist.
Pack a first aid kit/roadside emergency kit.
We have a first aid kit in the car but it fits into a little spot in the back of the car. It’s not the easiest thing to access as we’re rolling down the highway. So I recommend that you have a first aid kit and make sure it’s stocked up before you hit the road, but I also recommend putting together a smaller kit that can be kept in the front of the car.
Put together a front seat first aid kit.
This can be as simple as a zipper top plastic bag with the basics you need for life with kids. I always pack bandaids, antibiotic cream, wipes, painkillers, motion sickness medicine, and some hydrocortisone cream. Those items seem to cover the basics. You might also consider a small bottle of sunscreen if you plan to make any stops where everyone will be out in the sun and don’t want to go digging through your packed bags before a big stop.
Plan for the trash.
Now for the trash situation. You know it’s going to happen and it’s going to multiply quickly. Be prepared to stop and empty trash often, but I also recommend either making your own car trash can with a cereal st0rage container or buying something to hang in your car. We actually use a plastic grocery bag hanging off the middle dashboard for small trash.
Can you spare some change?
Tolls might also happen. If you’ve planned your route, you probably know where you’re going to hit toll roads and you might be prepared with a toll tag or something along those lines, but in case you’re not sure there’s a hack for that!
TIP: The round cylinder gum containers work perfectly for spare change in the car because they fit in drink holders! It’s also nice to have change on hand in case you need air for your tires, your children find a vending machine they just need to get a treat from, or if you happen to be visiting a place where you can make pressed coins!
ROAD TRIP HACKS FOR KIDS ENTERTAINMENT
When it comes to entertaining the kids, it’s all about variety. My kids love their tablets but after a few hours, they start asking for new games or videos. Or they start asking for something completely different to do. My biggest entertainment hack for road trips is to overpack and over plan.
If you forget some snacks, you can always stop and grab some. But if you run out of things to entertain the kids, it could be a very long trip.
Here are some of the things I depend on when we are traveling:
- Wifi Free Games
- Download movies and favorite shows on tablets
- DIY Travel Activities
- Printable travel bingo
- Artist box (art supplies and paper all in one box)
- Block building book – You can also make these in a lunchbox.
- Backpack for each kid – I do this when we fly too. I pack each kid a backpack with things that are new like coloring books, sketch pads, new markers/crayons/colored pencils, stickers, cheap little toys, gamebooks like mad libs and crosswords, a clipboard, and sometimes a new little stuffed animal. The trick with this is that I don’t let them have free reign over the entire bag. I had out things one at a time to make it all last longer. You can also allow them to choose one thing at a time to give the kids some choices.
PIT STOP TIPS & TRICKS
Bathroom breaks are a given. They happen on road trips and there is nothing we can do about it. Plan ahead for these as much as you can. If you know of a gas station chain along your route that is known for having clean bathrooms, plan to make stops at those. Mapping out food stops and bathroom stops can help you avoid the kids asking, “Are we there yet?” because you will have scheduled stops along the way.
Grocery stores are another great option for pit stops. You’ll have a better selection of snacks to choose from than you’ll have at most gas stations. You’ll also find the bathrooms might be cleaner and more family-friendly.
If you can find rest stops along your route or local parks with restrooms, they provide a great opportunity for a bathroom break but also a short activity break. Let the kids get out and have everyone get moving and stretch those legs!
FREE ROAD TRIP PLANNING CHECKLIST
You can use the link below to download your free road trip planning pdf checklist that covers the things mentioned above and many more!
Whether your road trip takes you across the country or just a few hours away, being prepared with easy travel hacks is the best way to travel with kids!