Must Haves for Car Trips with Kids

Raise your hand if you chose a family vacation spot primarily on the fact that it was “driving distance” and you thought it would be easier than taking an airplane with the kids?  It’s a great strategy – You save a lot by not paying for airfare. You don’t need to get to an airport two hours earlier nor pack a certain way to get through security. You can stop whenever you want to get out and stretch your legs, eat and take a bio break.  What’s not to love?

It’s all good when the trip mostly consists of the kids sleeping (Tip: Leave really early in the morning so chances are they will fall back asleep in the car). Then they wake up and you get a constant loop of “Are we there yet?,” “Mom, Mom, Mom, Ma, Mommy, Mom, Mooooom….Dad, Daddy, Dad…,” “Tell him to stop touching me,” or my favorite, “TELL HIM TO STOP LOOKING OUT MY WINDOW!!” 

 Kids sleeping in car

You can try telling them you changed your name (doesn’t work), or you can try these tips for making trips easy and fun for both parents and kids: 

  • Back-of-Seat OrganizerThis nifty gadget keeps all their snacks, drinks, books, and digital devices within easy reach and neatly stored – at least for a little while…Newer models even come with drop down tables and USB ports to make charging devices and staying entertained a whole lot more convenient.
back of seat car organizer


  • Tablet / Audiobooks - Load up a tablet with kid-friendly movies or even audiobooks you can listen to together. There are so many great audiobook choices out there – The Harry Potter series is a favorite but there are certainly some great options to suite every age (e.g., Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time; Disney’s Frozen, etc.).

  • Personal Game Devices. Need some “alone” time in the car? Each kid can bring their own personal gaming devices (with earphones!) along with any favorite games, which may prevent arguing over what movie to watch or audio book to listen to. My two sons and I all got into Pokémon – We would play, compete, and share tips together.  I was even the “cool mom” for a little while since I was current on all the games, character names and attributes.  Key words being “a little while."Favorite snacks and drinks. Of course, you should definitely have plenty of healthy snacks available.  However, I highly recommend including a couple of those “forbidden” snacks your kids love that you may not allow them to eat often.  It will make vacation car rides extra special and memorable.  Store all the goodies in a back-of-seat organizer so they are within easy reach and don’t forget to include a pack of portable baby wipes in one of those pockets while you’re at it!
  • Bio emergency anyone? Although a big benefit of traveling by vehicle is being able to stop for bathroom breaks, it’s sometimes impossible.  The trifecta of bio emergencies happened to us when my son was about five years old and we, along with all of New York City, were heading out to the shore. The next exit on the highway was 20 miles away, traffic was at a standstill, and there was no “shoulder” on the road for us to safely pull over.  We solved the issue with an empty drink bottle.  However, I wish I had one of these portable kids urinals with me, which can help both boys and girls relieve themselves in an emergency. 

Portable Kids Urinal

What your top car trip must haves for kids? We would love to hear from you so leave any  comments below. 

Happy and safe travels!

- The Travel Time Essentials Team


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