"Are we there yet? I'm hungry. She's looking at me! I dropped my toy (again)! He hit me! How much longer?"
Ahhhh....the sweet sounds of a road trip with kids. Whether you are driving from New York to Topsail Island or just from home to the grocery store, here are some of the best products, activities and ideas we have found to make these wonderful moments of togetherness ... ummm.... more tolerable. Maybe even fun!
Products to make your road trip easier
Vehicle trash can
Road trips mean road snacks and crafts! Have everyone pitch in to keep the car clean (especially the messy humans in the back seat). Everyone should throw away trash as they make it ... things like food wrappers, gum, wet wipes, and discarded art projects. Dump the trash when you stop for gas (old banana peels do not make a good air freshener, trust us).
If you have very young children who are in the middle of potty training (ages 2-4) a travel potty can be a life saver. You may not have time to get to the next rest stop before your little one says "I have to go!". There are many options available, and most fold up for easy storage. Pro tip: Keep a package of baby wipes and grocery bags nearby for easy cleanup. Another suggestion: Get a waterproof liner for the car seat (or use Pull Ups while in transit).
Bento box snack organizer
The night before your road trip, fill up a Bento-Box style storage container with a variety of healthy snacks for the day. The kids will love the fun presentation (you may want one for yourself, too). There are different types and styles out there... just stack them in the cooler and prevent hunger meltdowns.
Back seat organizer
We have these on the back of the front seats all the time, but it's fun to add new items to your organizer before a long trip. Stock paper, colored pencils (no crayons... they melt), headphones, water bottles, small toys, a Rubik's cube, wet wipes, books and more. What you choose will obviously depend on the ages and interests of your littles!
Save your own sanity and get each kid a set of headphones that are comfortable and durable. Whether they plug into (or use Bluetooth for) your car's entertainment system or simply plug into their personal tablet, good headphones are in everyone's best interest.
It's smart to pack a few "go bags" in your car at all times, but especially when you are going on a big family vacation. Here are the categories we recommend:
â†’ First Aid: Include Band-Aids, Neosporin, Tweezers, Gauze, Tape, Scissors, Antiseptic Wipes
â†’ Outdoor Fun: Include Sunscreen, Bug Spray, and a large blanket
â†’ Clothing: Pack a change of clothes for each kid (don't forget socks in case you go bowling!). Include a spare sweatshirt for cold nights and extra flip flops in case someone has a shoe meltdown.
The Trifecta: Wet wipes, napkins, & grocery bags
These three things can save almost any road trip dilemma. Think french fry ketchup explosion, or someone is car sick, or you want to "wash hands" after petting a dog at a gas station, or you need to gather up beach toys at the end of the day. Keep these three items on hand at all times when traveling with kids and you won't be sorry.
Dramamine / Hard candies
Car sickness is a real problem for some kids, especially those who like to read or look down at a tablet for too long while they are on a road trip. A gentle, chewable medicine like Dramamine can really help quell those waves of nausea for your little passengers (bonus: it usually makes them sleepy, but don't tell them we told you that). Peppermints are good for this as well ... a quick, minty-fresh remedy in a pinch.
Neck pillow and blanket
The basics of the travel must-have list, but for good reason. A simple pillow and blanket can make a child feel comforted and safe. Ready to rest and relax in the car, it makes for a more peaceful and comfortable trip. Add a favorite stuffed animal, of course.
Activities to make time fly by
So, as adults, we would probably choose to read a book or magazine, listen to a Podcast, or sleep during a road trip. Kids on the other hand? "I'm sooooo bored". Here are a few sure-fire hits to keep them engaged and happy (at least for a little while).
Throw a few new choices in the mix to help the hours pass. Walmart usually has a huge bin of discount movies, or try renting some from the library. You can also do Redbox rentals and return your movie to any Redbox kiosk location along the way.
A classic choice that will teach your kids (and remind you) what an adverb is.
Paint By Sticker
Car activities should be mess-free. We love these "paint by sticker" books that are best for ages 5 and up. Just match the colors to the appropriate spaces. Totally engaging!
Coke or Pepsi
Kids love these books, which are fun to do with friends, siblings, or parents! It's basically like a game of "Would you rather" with questions like "would you rather wear a snake as a necklace or wear tarantula earrings". Awesome conversation starter!
Tablet and chargers
We're not even going to pretend that tablets aren't totally awesome on road trips! From Kindle Fire to iPad, there is a tablet out there for every budget and they really do help kids stay entertained. Download some movies, apps, and games before your next trip. Don't forget a long charger that will reach your USB ports, or consider doling out some portable charging banks.
Speaking of Apps, there are too many great ones to list! Try Stack the States, the License Plate game, Shark Tracker, and of course, Netflix (many shows can be downloaded so they are viewable off wifi). Younger kids will love anything by Toca Boca, ABC Mouse, Starfall, Disney, Nick Jr., Cubic Frog, and the Endless Learning Academy.
"Water Wow" Activity Packs
Melissa and Doug is a brand we really like for well-made, entertaining activities for kids. Check out these "Water Wow" activity packs. Kids draw with water, so it's not messy at all, and the tablets are reusable. Look for other travel-friendly activities along this same line, like their sticker books and pads.
Road Trip "I Spy": Scavenger Hunt Printable
Kids love to check things off a list! The license plate game is a classic if you are going through a lot of states at once (or if you are driving through military towns like we have here in North Carolina), but there are lots of things to find on a road trip. We have created a fun "I Spy" printable to try on your next road trip to Topsail Island:
CLICK HERE or on the image above to print!
Enjoy the ride!
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Life is a journey, not a destination". We hope this blog helps you make the most of your journey to Topsail Island (or wherever your travels take you).
Ward Realty is happy to help you find the perfect vacation rental to top off your amazing road trip. Please call us at 910-328-3221 to learn more about our vacation rentals and availability!