The best thing adults can do when planning a long car trip is to map out their destination. Check for rest stops along the way and plan the trip accordingly. Children should be allowed to get out of the car at least every two to three hours. Choose a spot where they can play for at least ten to fifteen minutes. A restaurant or gas station parking lot is not a suitable play area.

Do not carry small children around during these rest periods. Children should be encouraged to run and play. Children who are allowed to expend their energies every couple of hours will be happier travelers.

Be flexible. If the children are fighting or overly restless, you should stop and let them out of the car.

What to Pack for a Road Trip

Children should be provided with age appropriate toys and activities which will keep them occupied while traveling in a car. This can include coloring books and crayons for younger children and sketch pads and markers for older children. Other items which occupy traveling children include Etch-a-Sketch, books, small figurines or toys, baby dolls or stuffed animals and playing cards.

Older children can be outfitted with their own portable walkman’s or CD players, while younger children will enjoy listening to “kid’s music” or “kid’s stories” over the car’s CD player. Car travel is also a great time to allow children to play hand-held video games.

Try to have healthy snacks on hand. This can include sandwiches, crackers, cheese, and fruit. Try to avoid sugar, as this will only excite children and make children more restless.

If the trip is long, pack blankets and pillow for the children.

Keep a change of clothing handy for each child.

Special Concerns

  • Always pack special items to comfort small children. This can include favorite blankets or baby dolls, extra pacifiers, or storybooks
  • Keep a large supply of diapers and wipes handy for children who are not toilet trained
  • Keep any medications (antibiotics, fever reducers) a child is taking in the front of the car
  • Pack numbing ointment for a teething baby
  • Pack plenty of baby food and teething crackers if you are traveling with an infant
  • Keep fresh water and wipes handy for cleaning faces and fingers