Highlights Along the Way
Family Travel, Treats, Tips, & Traditions

Tips for a Successful Road Trip with Kids

Disclosure: Tree Top Inc has sponsored this post.

With Spring Break just around the corner I bet many of our readers are planning road trips.  We recently returned from a road trip up the California Coast to Monterey.  Traveling long distances with three kids can be a challenge, but it can also be lots of fun. Today we are sharing some tips for a successful road trip with kids that have worked for us and also a fun video from our sponsors at Tree Top!

road trip with kids for spring break

Make sure to travel in comfort!  Kids need to be dressed comfortable first, cute second.  T-shirts and leggings or stretchy pants and sweatshirts are a staple for our kids. We always have pillows and special stuffed animals.  Comfort goes a long way when kids are cooped up, and they just might fall asleep. When kids fall asleep we often stretch our stops and can get a little further down the road.  We dress and pack for comfort in hopes of a nap along the way!

rest stop

Take your time! Scheduled stops make all the difference. We learned quickly that road trips simply take longer when we have kids.  We can’t simply drive for five or six hours straight anymore.  Harry and I always map out our trip beforehand.  Stops are scheduled every three hours at most.  We try to avoid traveling more than seven hours in one day.  It really is better at this stage of the game to break up your road trip rather than rush through. We have found this just makes for more memories.  Stop off at that look point, find a park, explore a historic landmark, anything to stimulate those busy minds and legs.

travel pit stop elephant seals california coast

We have traveled from San Diego to Monterey several times. Our newest favorite stop is Ostrich Land USA  just outside of Solvang. Ostrich Land is a quirky little place that is a little bit learning and a whole lot of just silly fun.  Finding a fun place to spend thirty minutes to an hour is golden. When you are planning your road trip, find something a little silly and unexpected if possible.

Ostrichland Road Trip

Do not underestimate the power of a state route rest stop on your mood.  Not all rest stops are created or maintained equally.  How weird is it that we know our ‘favorite’ rest stops? If you are traveling on the 101 you are in for a treat. Exit 246 off the 101 does not disappoint.

the best rest stop in California

“Can you wait til the pretty one with fancy bathrooms? It’s only another 15 minutes or so.”

“Yes, I’d rather wait.”

Pack more activities than you think you might need. We bring an iPad loaded with favorite movies and typically watch one during a long stretch.  We also play road trip games like “I Spy” and the alphabet game.  Each child has an activity book with puzzles, stickers, coloring, etc.  Our kids have recently discovered and adopted my love of car singing, our favorites are Hamilton and “Jackson 5 radio”on Pandora.

Our creative friends at Tree Top came up with a very cool way to re-purpose applesauce pouches into a really fun magnet Road Trip Bingo game!

Wholesome snacks are an absolute must.  When we are cooped up in a car it is important to have healthy snacks on hand. Junk food is simple and fun, but it really derails our good attitudes. While we do pack whole fruit, road trips are when we really take advantage of convenience foods. Our family of five needs a bagillion snacks for a four day road trip.  We packed a small cooler with yogurts and pre chopped veggies.  We also packed a large bag of non perishable items like Tree Top apple sauce pouches and juice boxes.  Whole food items with natural ingredients can be found in pre packed foods and we love that!

juice box for road tripsPS – Did you know that juice boxes have ‘handles’?  I did not know this when my big kids were little!  A friend showed me that you pull up the top side tabs and kids can hold them.  It really cuts down on the squeezing juice all over the place and completely losing your marbles….. not that I would know anything about that sort of thing.


tree top applesauce pouch

While I am a big advocate of eating an apple whole, I don’t want to find a bunch of apple cores all over the bottom of my car.  Pouches and individual juice boxes get several servings of fruits into my kiddos tummies while keeping their hands and the car fairly mess free.  Road trips are when we splurge on conveniences and special treats.  Our kids love that there are tons of different flavors. I love that it is fun but also healthy and easy.  Everyone wins in this scenario. And remember, you can re-purpose the caps by making the craft in the video above!

road trip with kids to santa barbara

Road trips with kids are the perfect budget friendly adventure for Spring Break.  For moms and dads, they can be a lot of work.  For kids that thrive with a schedule, it can be a bit derailing. We try not to micro manage every single bit of our road trips, but we found that a little planning goes a long way.  Some entertainment, scheduled stops, and easy healthy snacks really help us stay in good spirits so we can just learn and create some lasting memories!

Happy Spring Break Friends! What is your favorite place to road trip to?



Until Next Time ~ Kate
Categories:  Travel
  1. robin Rue says:

    Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Hungry kids are cranky kids, so we pack TONS of snacks.

  2. tara pittman says:

    I have a road trip coming up and these tips will help. My boys love watching movies.

  3. Stop over should really be a part o the plan when traveling especially when you have kids with you. Snacks and a fun filled activity inside the car is a must too.

  4. Jolleen says:

    Looks like you had a great road trip! That ostrich place looks like fun 🙂

  5. Karlyn Cruz says:

    This is really helpful, we have a long trip this coming April with kids. Glad you shared this.

  6. Ryan Escat says:

    What a smart tips! Your kids had fun and enjoyed the trip for sure.

  7. Snacks and fun activities are a must. We kids get restless during road trips. Snacks keep our mouths shut (much to the parent’s relief) and games keep us active (and make us tired – bonus).

  8. Snacks are great for everyone. We’ve met so many cranky adult travelers too. They all should have remembered your advice and packed some snacks.

  9. Annemarie LeBlanc says:

    I don’t have young children anymore but these Tree Top drinks would be great to take on short trips with my grandchildren. I am happy it is 100% organic. Thanks for the tips too. It really very helpful to keep these things in mind when on the road with kids.

  10. Nellwyn says:

    I have great memories of taking road trips with my family when I was a kid. We definitely played the alphabet game a lot! And snacks are definitely a road trip essential no matter how old you are!

  11. chei says:

    These are great tips! Its a big help on the road trips.

  12. Great tips here, and your photos are adorable! I remember the days of traveling with my kids when they were little – those could be very challenging trips!

  13. Jay Simms says:

    We have a road trip coming up soon, and i have been dreading it because the kids get bored 20 minutes in. I am going to try these out!

  14. Elizabeth O. says:

    Road trips aren’t always the comfiest especially when you have kids. It’s really important to prepare everything from food to entertainment. I think these are great tips!

  15. I remember the days when road trips would make me cringe. I think that kids expectations fully exceeded my own at the time. I’m past that stage now but think I could handle it better if I had to do it again.

  16. This is a helpful tips! Will be going for a trip this summer. With my 2nd grader on tow, we usually have to do many stops before destination. Agree that healthy snacks definitely helps make the journey more enjoyable!

  17. Athena says:

    When we need/want to travel long distances with our kids their comfort is definitely important. Our daughter will almost always choose to travel in her pajamas or horseback riding breeches – I guess they are comfortable.

  18. Ruth I. says:

    You have great tips! It’s really hard to have long travel with kids. I also love the healthy snack and juices that are yummy!

  19. Hannah Marie says:

    The bingo game is awesome! It will really help the kids entertain and not be bored during long trips. I agree on healthy snacks and planned stops 🙂

  20. Dhemz says:

    These are absolutely perfect ideas….NO GADGET! I would love to use some of these tips for our upcoming road trip this summer. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Oooo so much great advice here!!! We are going on a road trip this weekend. I will have to keep these tips in mind

  22. Wildish Jess says:

    Love all of these ideas! My boys would do great incorporating these!

  23. Emma says:

    It just wouldn’t be a road trip without snacks! Great ideas for keeping the kids healthy and happy here – I love car games! We used to play the numberplate game and eye spy and all sorts to keep us entertained

  24. never tried to go on a road trip with kids because we don’t have our own vehicle, but would love to. I’m sure that would be an adventure they would really treasure…

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