Family Roadtrips 101: How To Keep Your Children Occupied While On The Road

Family road trips can be total nightmares, especially if you’re traveling with young ones. As any parent knows, even short drives around your neighborhood can be difficult… How the heck are you supposed to survive hours of crying, whining and screaming? It may sound crazy, but it’s actually not that difficult to keep your kids at bay during your drive.

In fact, you can use the fact that kids have short attention spans to your advantage. The key is to keep them occupied—you must find ways to channel their energy into something fun and stimulating. If you have a family road trip coming soon, make sure to read the following 5 tips for keeping your children occupied while on the road:

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#1 Drive during nap time

One of the best things you can do is drive during your kids’ usual nap time. Depending on how long your drive is, you might have to leave super early in the morning or sometime in the afternoon in order to make it work. You can also make their nap time part of the whole adventure. Make them wear pajamas to the car, and load the back seats with a bunch of pillows and blankets—more often than not, they’ll be willing to play along.

#2 Pack a bag of activities

As previously mentioned, the key to taming your kids is to keep them occupied. When your kids are awake, get them to focus their attention on some sort of fun task. Pack an activity bag full of those tasks, and make it a sort of a game or challenge for them to get through the entire bag. You’ll want to come up with activities that aren’t messy or require too much space.

Coloring books, sticker books, plain paper for drawing, small toys or stuffed animals, and inexpensive cameras are some perfect things to include in your activity bag. They will surely keep your kids zoned out for a while. Just remember to keep your activity bag within reach so that you can whip it out whenever you need it.

#3 Bring snacks—lots of them

Kids are hungry, even when they’re not. One of the best ways to calm down a child is by offering him or her a snack. Of course, the type of snacks you give them is absolutely critical—foods that are high in sugar should be avoided as they could make your kids even more hyper than they normally are. Figure out what healthy alternatives your kids prefer, and pack a bunch of them for your trip.

A few snack ideas to consider include string cheese, crackers, baked low-sodium chips, sliced fruits (apples, grapes, strawberries, etc.), sliced veggies (carrots cucumbers, celery, etc.), yogurt tubes, granola bars, cookies, and mini sandwiches. Remember, the fuller your kids are, the more content they will be, and the more likely they’ll get sleepy from all that digesting.

#4 Distract them with technology

Once your kids have eaten all of the snacks and finished everything in your activity bag, it may be a good time to hand them a phone or tablet to play with. Whether you let them play a family-friendly game or watch some sort of educational video, they’ll definitely be occupied with that for a while… At least you can enjoy some peace and quiet for a temporary while.

Just make sure you don’t get your kids too hooked to the technology. As with everything else in life, exposure to technology is okay in moderation. Unfortunately, as much as parents would like to avoid it, nothing can calm an unruly child faster than a little bit of screen time. As long as you set reasonable limits and keep strict privacy settings, it shouldn’t be an issue.

#5 Play songs you can all sing to

There’s a reason why karaoke bars are so much fun—they get everyone joining in on the fun! So why not take the concept of a karaoke bar and bring it to your vehicle? Once you get your kids singing along to their favorite tunes, they’ll start singing along and forget what they were complaining about just a few minutes ago.

Not only that, but all that singing will definitely wear them out. As terrible as it sounds, that’s kind of what you want—the ideal situation is that the kids get sleepy so mommy and daddy can enjoy at least an hour or two driving in peace. So get your playlists ready, because they will 100% come in useful during your trip.