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Are we there yet?

I have to use the restroom!

I am hungry.

I'm tired.

 

Those are all phrases you want to avoid on a long road trip. Nothing makes a 12-hour drive feel like 24 hours more than unhappy children. Here are some tips and resources that will help keep your kids busy and boredom at bay, for at least the first couple of hours.

 

Pre-Trip Preparation

  • Purchase small "gifts" from your local dollar store for your kids to open every hour. This will help the time go by quickly and give the children something new to play with. If you are taking a 20-hour road trip, I think a toy every few hours should suffice. You shouldn't need an extra suitcase just to pack the gifts!
  • Equip your kids with a travel journal, complete with new pencils or pens to document all the details of the journey. This will be a great way for them to remember all of the excitement of a vacation or move.

 

Packing snacks and foods (some great ideas here)

  • For drinks, skip sugary juices and sodas. The kids do not need to be more hyped-up than usual, and you do not want to clean up a sticky mess if a spill occurs. If someone gets car sick, sparkling water or club soda will come in handy to tame an upset tummy.
  • Easy-to-eat fruits like grapes and apples will fill them up without a huge mess. Worried about keeping fruit fresh? Try dried fruit (look for the kind without added sugar).
  • To satisfy a salty craving, skip chips that can make a big mess, and dole out some nuts.

 

Rent Red Box movies and return them along the way!

 

During the Drive

Apartment Therapy recommends the following apps that "kept my 4-year-old daughter interested while on vacation:"

 

Want to limit screen time?

  • You can find a large collection of educational print-outs here.
  • Look for road trip bingo here.
  • Find fun printables for logging license plates from different states and identifying construction equipment here.
  • There's a printable activity booklet here.
  • Plan a physical activity for each rest stop to get the kids moving, and hopefully tired out. For example, pack a jump rope or a stop watch to time short races. These activities will also help burn off some of their extra energy.

 

And here are a few ways to keep the adults entertained:

  • iExit Interstate Exit Guide: This app tells you what's coming up in real time when driving on the interstate. It easily displays which upcoming exits have what you need, such as gas, hotels or rest areas.
  • GasBuddy (free): This app allows you to find the cheapest gas stations using your GPS location or zip code. This free app helps you save money — not bad!
  • iHeartRadio (free), Pandora and Spotify (there are free versions): These apps will keep you dancing the whole road trip.
  • Consider renting audio books from your local library to keep the driver entertained even if the kids are on their third viewing of "My Little Pony Princess Party."
  • Additional tips: 17 Tips for Long Car Rides with Kids.

 

How do you survive a long road trip with kids? Please share your best tips in the comments.