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Traveling with your family this summer? As a mom, I am always looking for ways to make traveling with kids easier. These 25 travel hacks for kids will help you as you prepare for your next family trip…. from packing for a trip  to the ride itself.

     Fun activities and snacks for the long car rides with kids!

My family and I are planning some fun vacations for the next few months, but with four kids, it can get hard to go more than just a few hours.  With that being said- it is getting a little easier now that the kids are getting older.   They can keep themselves entertained with electronics, notebooks, crayons, and toys, so that has made our trips much easier!

Here are some travel hacks.. that make traveling easier! 🙂 

1- I love the idea of having each outfit packed in a ziplock bag by day, so you just grab a bag and it is filled with everything that you need (shirt, pants, underwear, socks…).
*Put a dryer sheet or 1/2 of a dryer sheet in the ziplock bags to give the clothes a wonderful smell when you pull them out for the day! 

Cute clothes to pack for a family trip!

Don’t forget this tip–>>  
Buy travel-sized items for the trip & toss it in the trash when you are done (toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, body wash…)!  It makes the trip so much easier for just a few dollars.

2- I also love to keep the car organized!!  I recently ordered these backseat organizers on Amazon (I love that our kids can keep their drinks, tablets & toys in them.):  The one that we have (pictured below) is the Luxury Car Back Seat Organizer with Thermo Pockets, DVD Player & Tablet Holder – Touch Screen Pocket up to 11″, Multifunctional Back of Seat Organizer. 

Backseat Organzier!

3- To keep boredom at bay, try making your own travel binder.  Put everything into your little pencil case and place it into a binder.  Print out their favorite character for them to color on the way.  Our kids loved it.

travel binder

4- Keep a first aid kit in the car.  A DIY first aid kit is easy to make when you throw in some bandaids, Tylenol, cleaning spray for boo-boos and other things you might need to help your family be prepared for the unexpected.

5- Road trips can easily become pretty expensive with gas costs and food costs. One way to help save money on road trips is by packing your food and planning things out ahead of time- plan out rest areas that have room to run or stop and have a picnic at a park.

6- Give your kids times to watch for.   Get a wake-up light and use it to your advantage.  When the light on this turns GREEN, we will be stopping to get lunch soon.  When it turns GREEN again, we will be stopping to take a break.
Ps- you make need a car adapter to plug it in.  I don’t know what I would do without mine!

7- If you have a long car trip, grab a bucket and string and make a bucket pulley system ahead of time- fill it with things they will need.

8- Have books on tape and listen to them during the trip.  This one is our favorite book on tape, by far!

9-  When we aren’t listening to a book, we actually watch  Netflix on my laptop because you can connect your laptop to the internet while in your car, so it makes it easy.  I set the laptop on the console area in between the driver & passenger seat and everyone can watch.

10- Keeping a variety of toys and games flowing is always helpful when you are traveling with kids. Having some clever travel games for little ones makes it easier and can see how they would be a great distraction.


11- Kids love countdowns of any kind so the idea of doing a countdown to arrival is just brilliant, like this one where each hour they get a new activity to complete (you can write them on the back of the numbers).

12- Break out some Road Trip Bingo for your kids. This fun game will give some variety to the trip and is a great distraction, looking for things and marking them off as you go.

13- It can be hard to avoid all the junk food when traveling, which is why I love the idea of using tackle boxes or rainbow loom box-kits to hold a variety of healthy snacks from pretzels to cheerios to Chex Mix.

Rainbow loom box hack

14- Use a cookie sheet to create an instant activity tray for your little ones when traveling- it is like a mini desk in the car!  All that you need to make this is a cookie sheet, a Dremel tool, and some velcro!

Fun ways to keep the car long car ride clean

15- Legos are always fun but can be hard to keep track of when traveling (especially traveling with small children). This is why, when I saw the idea for a Portable Lego Kit, I just loved it. Just a little tote or lunch box and some legos!  So simple and creates wonderful playtime opportunities.
Portable LEGO set for young children

16- When the time in the car or airplane is going to be long, a scavenger hunt is a great option.   Let the kids look for certain landmarks, cars and other things!

17- Print off this cute license plate checklist and look for the license plates along the way- see who can cross them off first.   Do they see one from PA?  What about NC?

18- Use an empty DVD case to create a coloring case. It can hold a notepad and pencils.  You could also grab your DIY crayon roll or this little portable drawing kit to keep the kids busy.

19- Create an I Spy Bag for the kids to enjoy during some quiet time during travels- fill it with rice and a lot of little trinkets.  Give them a list of what is in there and let them search for it.

Fun binders for traveling with family!

20- Make some Road Trip Behavior Clips– this is a great way to encourage good behavior on the trip:   Its a really easy concept- if the paper clip with your letter on it stays up, you are doing great.  If the clip comes down for misbehaving, you miss out on the next fun thing (ice cream, running break, etc…)

Behavior clips for kids!

21- Prep some Are We There Yet? bags ahead of time to use during those moments of near breakdown- they will buy you an extra thirty minutes when you pull them out and surprise the kids.
are we there yet bags

22- Creating a diaper changing station to take on the road with you.  Keep diapers, wipes, and a plastic bag for dirty diapers in the back of your car.  It can be a lifesaver of an idea when you are traveling with little ones.

23- Use this checklist for packing tips.  This way, you can be prepared ahead of time.

packing tips

Packing List for Kids!

24- While traveling, it can be hard to keep kids entertained, but this list of non-technology activities are perfect to keep any child busy- the idea to look for drivers wearing sunglasses is a great tip and so much fun!  You can vary these ideas to include drivers wearing hats, kids with blue shirts, minivans, motorcycles, etc..

25- Grab your Kindle!  We fill our tablets with new apps before we leave and we go about 1-2 hours without turning them on.  After we decide to get them out, the kids are so excited and they play on them for a few hours, giving the driver some peace and quiet to concentrate on the drive.

I hope that these tips were helpful!

Ps- This Summer Survival Kit and get a TON of free printables for your trip.

NEED MORE IDEAS?  Check out my favorite tips for going to Disney with your family…
how to go to Disney at half price

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I’m not the only one to buy stuff to their away after vacation (toothbrush, travel size deodorant, etc)? My friends look at me as if I’m crazy, but it allows me to get bags packed in advance.

    When I put their clothes in a zip lock bag I add a dryer sheet in each bag. My kids like how their clothes smell coming out of the bag each day.

    1. Oh I love that little tip!!! I’ll have to add that to the post. 🙂

  2. I’d just like to point out that while these tips are awesome. The baking sheet idea would be very deadly dangerous in the event of a car accident. I would hate for anyone to get hurt because they didn’t know better.

    1. I agree. Something about the additional steel coupled with child is Velcro-strapped in – some sturdier than others raises a red flag of concern in the event of an accidnet, obviously worsening effects at higher speeds. Maybe one could find a way to have the tray stable enough to sit still but also not attached or affixed to the car seat to the point where the tray could fall down in the event of an accident vertically rather than something sturdy & horizontal strapped down between your kid & the passenger seat just in front…. God forbid.

    2. Please! No metal baking trays in a child’s lap.. Try a clean pizza box instead; not magnetic but much safer to contain small toys.

  3. Nice ideas! I used the lid from a packing box and put elastic to hold it to the chair. This gave them a nice lip around so that things stayed put. I also used a cookie sheet that we put on top of it.

    Remember shrinky dinks? I made them out of the current favorite tv stars (Martha Speaks at the time) and then put magnets on the back. This was fun for imaginative play on the cookie sheet!!

    Nice ideas! Thanks for sharing,
    Natalie, The Educational Touristw

    1. There all good tips thank you this was great timing because I’m going to Florida in two weeks so anyway thanks ???

  4. Hi! I’m in full on “get ready for vacation” mode since ours is 3 weeks away! 🙂 I have 4 children and we first began taking longer road trip vacays when my third was 18m old. She is now almost 6. I thought I would share some of the things that have made our trips a little easier and say how much I appreciate reading through this list! It has some great ideas 🙂

    One thing we do is preplan our stops so that we can stop at a playground. We let our children run off steam while we EAT! Then when we’re done with that stop (sometimes also a gas station for potty and gas) the kids eat in the car. This encourages them to get back in the car and keeps them occupied for the first 30 min or so after we get back in the car. Schools are great for this in the summer since they are public, usually clean/safe locations, and school is out. If you can find a park with a bathroom that’s even better. Our kids enjoy this part of the trip immensely.

    Each child gets his/her own backpack filled with books, a couple fav toys, notebook, coloring pencils, activity books, word searches, etc. I also splurge a tad and buy some new items for the drive. This year I purchased a Melissa & Doug travel memory game (really neat!), M & D lacing cards, and magnetic bear dolls. Another item that was a favorite last year and I’ll buy again this year is the preschool cutting book. I tore out all the pages ahead of time and I brought one pair of safety scissors. My girls who were 4 & 6 at the time loved practicing their cutting skills! In addition to allowing for screen time, you can get books on cd from the library to listen to. Choosing books that the whole family will enjoy is key! 🙂

    We pack our snacks, breakfasts, and lunches (sometimes dinners depending on how tight the budget is that year!). I bought simple divided food containers with lids and everyone eats their meals from that. When we are out for a day during the vacation week I would pack our lunches in these and stack them in the cooler. It works like a charm!! I actually really enjoy the travel portion of our vacations with kids 🙂

    1. GREAT TIPS!! Thank you for posting these. This will be first vacation with kids so very helpful

  5. I so needed this post… I feel most disorganized when we are traveling. I’m always saying… I really wish we had that… As we are buying it. I will be implementing some of these to our vehicles our vacation is in 2 weeks 🙂

  6. I love the activities you shared in your post! My tip is to not give kids all of the activities at once, but to share them with kids every hour, for example, so they always have something new and fresh to do.

    Thanks for the chance to win!

    wildorchid985 AT gmail DOT com

  7. Thanks, last years trip was very stressful when it was supposed to be fun! I’m hoping these ideas help for this year!

  8. There’s certainly a great deal to find out about this subject.
    I like all of the points you have made.

  9. I love all the ideas. We are moving across country this summer (3000 miles) with a 23 month old and a 5 year old. We are taking the trip slow and making many stops to visit family and friends across the country hoping this breaks up all the driving.

  10. Great ideas. We have a 10 hour drive ahead of us and I’m certain these will help. Thanks!

  11. I really like some of your ideas as they seem very clever. However a metal tray in the car is very unsafe especially if you were to get into a car accident. They do sell fabric trays which squish and are much better to use In this type of situation.