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Family

May 22, 2024

Tips For Family Road Trips

Things to Do in the Car, Train, or Plane

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Two kids and their day leaning out of the car windows on a road trip with kids.

iStockPhoto / Tomwang112


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Dreaming of a cross country adventure or a fun-filled weekend getaway with the kids? Hitting the open road with your little crew can be an amazing way to create lasting memories. But let's be honest, road trips with kids can also bring up anxieties about keeping everyone entertained and managing long stretches in the car.

Fear not, fellow travelers! We've compiled a treasure trove of road trip tips to transform your journey from stressful to spectacular. Whether you're planning a multi-day cross country road trip or a shorter family drive, this guide is packed with ingenious road trip must-haves, engaging car activities for kids, and clever hacks to keep everyone happy on the open road.

So, buckle up and get ready to discover the magic of family road trips with our essential tips for trips with kids, including weekend trips with kids and unforgettable summer trips with kids. Let's make those miles fly by!

Headphones

Let's face it, car activities for kids can only go so far. Headphones are a game-changer for family road trips, especially on long car rides. They create a haven of peace for both parents and kids, allowing little ones to enjoy their own travel activities without disrupting adult conversations.

Invest in a good pair of kids' headphones that are specifically designed for comfort and safety on a trip. Look for headphones that are:

  • Lightweight and small: Bulkier headphones can be uncomfortable for young travelers, especially on weekend trips with kids.

  • Durable: Choose a pair that can withstand the inevitable bumps and jostles of the road.

  • Kid-friendly design: Many headphones come with fun characters or vibrant colors to appeal to children.

To avoid sibling squabbles, consider purchasing separate headsets for each child. The good news is that most kids' headphones can be easily synced with car screens, tablets, or even the back-of-the-seat entertainment system in many vehicles.

Pro Tip: Download movies, shows, or audiobooks onto your devices before you leave. Spotty internet service can be a real downer on a road trip, so having downloaded content ensures endless entertainment options for the little ones.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Noot Products K11 Foldable Stereo Headphones for Kids

Noot Products K11 Foldable Stereo Headphones for Kids

  • COMFORTABLE DESIGN - On-ear headphones have padded soft cushions with a soft-touch finish. Adjustable headband for a perfect fit, and a lightweight design. Foldable design for easy storage. The cord is a 5 feet long nylon braided cable.
  • HASSLE-FREE WARRANTY - 24-month hassle-free warranty with easy-to-reach Customer Service.
  • NO MICROPHONE - There is NO microphone, remote, or volume control on these headphones but you can still speak into the mic of the device that you are plugged into. The receiving end will hear you through the device's mic.
  • COMPATIBILITY - Compatible with all smartphones, Chromebooks, iPads, tablets, computers, laptops and all 3.5mm audiojack devices. For iPhone 7 and above, iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 year 2020 models, you will need a lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter.
  • AGES - Suitable for kids aged 3 and up.
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iClever Cat Ear Kids Bluetooth Headphones

iClever Cat Ear Kids Bluetooth Headphones

  • CUTE & STYLISH - Great sound quality and a cute, fun, kid-friendly design. RGB LED lights are controlled by one independent button. When pressed in Bluetooth mode, it will turn off the lights to extend use time.
  • KID-SAFE VOLUME LIMIT - Kids' ears are sensitive and can be damaged by loud audio. Keep an eye on their safety with the volume limiter, which allows you to press "+" and "-" buttons simultaneously to switch from 74, 85 or 94 dB, and it won't changed accidentally.Let your kids have fun at a volume that's safe for them.
  • WIRELESS & WIRED - Thanks to the built-in rechargeable battery, these headphones pack up to 50 hrs of listening (with the RGB light off). If the juice is running low, you can also use a standard 3.5mm audio cable to switch to wired mode to keep using with Smart phones, iPad, tablets, PCs.
  • COMFORTABLE & FOLDABLE - Headphones for kids should be comfortable if they will be used for a long time. These come with an adjustable headband and soft, skin-friendly ear pads. Designed with ergonomics in mind, the silicone headband doesn't apply uncomfortable pressure to a child's head. They even fold up for easy traveling!
  • DURABLE DESIGN & GENEROUS WARRANTY - Your kids play rough and ours do, too. These kids over ear headphones can stand up to the tough treatment due to the durable design. We ensure your satisfaction with this product, and if you have any problems with the kids wireless headphones, just holler at us.
  • AGES - Suitable for kids aged 3-16.
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Snacks

Snacks are the silent heroes of any family road trip. They curb hunger pangs, prevent crankiness, and can even be a fun activity for trips with kids. The key is to pack a variety of road trip must-haves that are both satisfying and mess-free.

Individually packaged is the name of the game! Gone are the days of digging through a communal bag of chips. Opt for single-serving portions to avoid squabbles and make it easier to distribute snacks throughout the journey, especially on long car rides. This is a lifesaver for both weekend trips with kids and extended cross country road trips.

Choose your battles! While it's important to offer healthy options, prioritize travel activities for kids that won't create a mess in the backseat. Skip the crumbly cookies or sticky candies and opt for mess-free choices they'll love. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Portionable fruits and veggies: Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or apple slices are healthy and easy to eat.

  • Pretzels, popcorn, or rice cakes: These classic choices are crowd-pleasing and won't stain clothes.

  • Individually wrapped cheese sticks or string cheese: Protein-packed and mess-free!

  • Yogurt pouches: A cool, refreshing snack that comes in a variety of flavors.

  • Granola or cereal bars: Look for options with whole grains and limited added sugar.

Bonus Tip: Involve your kids in the planning process! Let them pick out a few of their favorite snacks to ensure they're excited about their choices and less likely to get hangry on the road.

Backpacks

Equipping each child with their own backpack is a game-changer for family road trips, especially for involving multiple siblings or longer journeys like cross country road trips. It empowers them with a sense of responsibility (just like their school bags!), and keeps them organized.

Here's why backpacks are road trip must-haves:

  • Organization on the go: A backpack keeps travel activities for kids contained and easily accessible throughout the trip. No more digging through piles of toys or losing coloring books under the seat!

  • Independent entertainment hub: Packing their favorite car activities for kids like coloring books, gaming devices (with headphones), stuffed animals, or activity books ensures endless entertainment options, especially on long car rides.

  • Boosts confidence: Carrying their own backpack fosters a sense of responsibility and independence in young travelers, making them feel like grown-up contributors to the trip.

Pro Tip: Involve your kids in packing their backpacks! Let them choose their favorite travel activities to bring along. This will not only get them excited for the trip but also teaches them valuable packing skills for future adventures.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Kids Construction Backpack

Kids Construction Backpack

  • SIZE: 10"L x 4"W x12"H 
  • MATERIAL: High-quality, durable and lightweight twill cloth. Machine washable.
  • HANDY POCKETS: Cute backpack to store your kids snacks and toys/items,One main pocket can storage A4 books, 2 handy and safe side pockets easily fit a thermos, water bottle, and other small items.
  • DURABLE: This preschooler backpack is made of durable water-resistant polyester, which is lightweight and easy to clean.
  • COMFORTABLE: The adjustable padded shoulder straps offer support and comfort while the adjustable chest strap stabilizes the load throughout the day's activities.
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Kids Dinosaur Backpack

Kids Dinosaur Backpack

  • EASY TO ORGANIZE: This preschool backpack features easy to open and close zipper tags, a main zippered pocket, two side pockets for a water bottle, and top loops for storage and other carrying options. Smooth SBS zippers are for the little kids to open and close easily.
  • LARGE CAPACITY: 11.5"W x 4.7"D x 15"H. Weighs 0.77 lbs. Side pockets: 4.3" x 5.5". Capacity:13L. Inner divider fits a tablet, activity books, etc. Holds a lunch bag, two small notebooks, two books, and a water bottle. 
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: Made of durable water-resistant polyester which is lightweight and easy to clean. The adjustable padded shoulder straps offer support and comfort while the adjustable chest strap stabilizes the load throughout the day's activities.
  • AGES: 3 years and up.
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Kids Space Backpack

Kids Space Backpack

  • DURABLE: Nylon fabric outside, anti-scratch, waterproof, fine stitching, anti-wrinkle, SBS smooth zippers. Polyester inside, easy to clean.
  • DIMENSIONS: 16"W x 11" H x 6.5"D
  • SPINE PROTECTION: S-shaped strap design. Breathable air-cushioned back, comfortable for the shoulders and back. Adjustable padded shoulder straps. Non-slip chest buckle shares the pressure on the back and shoulders.
  • SAFETY FEATURES: Reflective tape is available on both shoulder straps and side storage bags so it's easier to spot at night or in fog. 
  • WARRANTY: Quality assurance for 12 months. Any quality problem will be solved for you during the warranty period
  • AGES: 5 - 10 years old.
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Hand Sanitizers

Some airports provide sanitizing wipes for passengers, but you might have to request them. Consider having some with you and just keeping them in your purse or car. These are especially helpful if you’re traveling with children, as they can help prevent the spread of germs throughout the flight and in public areas, as well as allow you to easily clean up after snack time.

Here's why wipes are essential for  trips with kids:

  • Clean-up crew: Spills, sticky fingers, and unexpected messes are par for the course when traveling with kids. Wipes are a lifesaver for quick and easy clean-up, keeping both your car and your little ones sanitized.

  • Public places protector: Rest stops, gas stations, and airplane tray tables are breeding grounds for germs. A quick wipe-down before and after contact with these high-traffic surfaces helps reduce the risk of illness, especially for young travelers with developing immune systems.

  • Snack time sanitation: Sticky fingers after snacking are inevitable. Having wipes on hand allows for a quick and mess-free clean-up, keeping your car interior fresh and germ-free throughout the trip.

Pro Tip: Look for travel-sized, alcohol-free sanitizing wipes that are gentle on kids' skin. Wipes are a simple yet powerful tool to keep your family healthy and happy on the road.

Ensure Your Kids Get Enough Sleep

Jet lag can throw a wrench into even the most meticulously planned family road trip, especially for trips with kids  across multiple time zones. While  long car rides don't involve jet lag itself,  the disruption to a child's  sleep schedule can create similar issues.   

Here are some tips to minimize the impact of time zone changes:

  • Gradual adjustments: If possible, start shifting your child's sleep schedule a little bit each day in the direction of the new time zone leading up to your trip. This gradual approach can help ease the transition.

  • Respect their routine (when possible): If your child thrives on a consistent sleep schedule, try to stick to it as much as possible during your trip, especially for weekend trips with kids. This familiarity can provide a sense of comfort and normalcy amidst the travel excitement.

  • Embrace the sunshine: Natural light is a powerful tool for regulating sleep patterns. Plan activities that get your kids outdoors during the daytime hours in the new time zone. This will help their bodies adjust to the sunlight cues for sleep and wakefulness.

Remember, every child adjusts differently. Be patient and flexible as your little ones acclimate to the new time zone. With a little planning and some helpful strategies, you can minimize the impact of jet lag and ensure a smooth, restful journey for the whole family.

Tray Organizer

Keeping travel activities for kids contained can be a challenge, especially during family road trips and airplane journeys. A trusty tray organizer or lap organizer is a road trip must-have. These handy compartments help minimize clutter and keep cars and airplane tray tables  organized throughout the trip.

Choosing the perfect organizer:

  • Flying vs. driving: Consider your mode of transportation. Lap organizers are ideal for car activities for kids, providing a stable surface for drawing or playing with small toys. Tray organizers work wonders on airplanes, keeping travel activities for kids contained and within easy reach.

  • Matching activities: Think about your child's preferred travel activities. If coloring is their jam, a lap desk with a sturdy surface might be ideal. For playing with action figures or dolls, a compartmentalized organizer can keep smaller toys contained and prevent them from rolling around.

Pro Tip: Involve your kids in choosing their tray organizer. Let them pick one with a design or color they love. This will get them excited about keeping their car activities organized and make clean-up time a breeze.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Kids Car Travel Tray

Kids Car Travel Tray

  • DIMENSIONS: 12.01"D x 4"W x 15.98"H
  • MATERIALS: 900D nylon
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Kids Car Travel Tray

Kids Car Travel Tray

  • DIMENSIONS: 13"D x 4.5"W x 16.5"H
  • COLOR: Black
  • MATERIAL: 600D Oxford material.
  • COMFORT: Features a padded shoulder strap for a comfortable carry and a collapsible design for superior portability & convenience of storage when not in use. The velcro straps combine w/ a heavy-duty buckle for safety and security.
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Packing

Packing for a family road trip can feel overwhelming, especially with little ones in tow. Here are some tips to streamline the process and ensure you have everything you need for a stress-free adventure:

  • Master list magic: Create a comprehensive checklist of all essential road trip must-haves for both you and your kids. This lifesaver ensures you don't forget any crucial items and allows you to check them off as you pack.

  • Label everything: Labeling your child's clothing with their name is a simple yet effective way to avoid lost and found mishaps during weekend trips with kids or extended cross country road trips.

  • Packing cube power: Packing cubes are a game-changer for families! Since kids' clothes are smaller, packing cubes allow you to maximize suitcase space. Group several days' worth of outfits into a single cube, keeping your luggage organized and easy to navigate. This eliminates the need for yet another bag to keep track of, freeing up your hands and sanity for more important things - like creating lasting memories with your little travelers!

Check The Weather

Before leaving, check the weather of your destination. If it’s a place you don’t know well or that isn’t known for warm sunshine, consider bringing a small umbrella, jacket or travel poncho. Also, consider area transportation and how you’ll move about on your family getaway!

Now, get packing and happy travels this season!

SANTA.COM… MAKING HAPPY HAPPEN™

Family Road Trip Essentials

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The Creative Kid Endangered Animals Coloring Set

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Fulfilled by our friends at Worldwide Buddies 20 coloring activities ready to be filled with ideas and brushstrokes! The companion every little creator, artist or dreamer needs. Inspired by the stories and the characters of 'The Book of Cultures'. Th...
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The Busy Bee Coloring Set

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The Creative Kid Coloring Set - North American Adventure

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Baldwin’s Big Adventure Hardcover Book

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Join Baldwin and Bobber as they search for Baldwin's father before Diesel finds him, in this exciting train adventure for kids 3-8 by best-selling children's author Annie Auerbach.

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Buzzing Through Activity Book

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Youngsters will love the fun characters, bold colors, and sensory-rich features of this 4-page baby book. Even functional details, like the hook-and-loop closure and fabric handle, add to the learning experience. Ages 0 months+

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Dino Daily Doodler Reusable Activity Book with Wonder Stix

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Includes 8 wipeable blank pages plus 4 Wonder Stix! Includes travel pouch for Wonder Stix. Draw- wipe - repeat! Wipes clean with a damp cloth to create over and over again! Great for traveling and on the go activities.

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Wimmer-Ferguson Soft Sensory Book Toy

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Fulfilled by our friends at Manhattan Toy The soft nursery novel features classic development prints, crinkle paper flaps, a mirror and ribbon ties to close or attach to various play areas. Perfect for encouraging tummy time play while fostering visu...
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Worldwide Sticker Book

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120+ stickers that bring joy and wonder from around the world! Because ... who doesn't love stickers?

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Hermelindo, Axolotl Plush Toy

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Fulfilled by our friends at Worldwide Buddies Meet Hermelindo, the cutest axolotl plush toy. Did you know? Axolotls are endangered salamanders that live in Mexico and have regenerative powers. This means that if you cut one of their body parts, it gr...
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Spotted Seal Stuffed Animal Plush

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Fulfilled by our friends at Worldwide Buddies DESCRIPTION DETAILS Meet Shui, the wisest spotted seal around. You can spot her in the northern Yellow Sea, the western Sea of Japan, and as far as Alaska. She’s generally quite shy, but if you give her a...
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Moppettes Beau Bunny Plush and Carrier Set

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A huggable plush bunny with its own fabric bassinet, blanket, and pillow, all designed to inspire nurturing play wherever your little one goes.

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Moppettes Plush Bea Bear in a Basket

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Portable Game Pad With 400 Games Included and Extra Controller

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Fulfilled by our friends at VistaShops 400 Super Classic Games The game console has nostalgic unique 400 FC games, the game can be played without repetition, take you back to the fun of childhood. Supports 2 Players &Play on TV A gamepad is included ...
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Car Dash Cam with WIFI and App

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Car Dash Cam with a Wide-angle lens and 360-degree rotation makes its view widen. And built-in G-Sensor and loop recording and parking mode make for better knowledge of current road conditions and safer driving. Great rear view monitor for various cars for safekeeping.

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Commuter Insulated Travel Cup

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Fulfilled by our friends at CORKCICLE. Elevate every AM train ride, weekend trail trek, and moving moment with all-new spill-proof Commuter Cup. Designed with a spill-proof 360° Sip Lid, it's perfect for the modern traveler, the city dweller, or anyo...
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Kids Travel Cup

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Fulfilled by our friends at CORKCICLE. 12oz Kids Cup was designed with serious fun in mind. Easy-sip spout lid. Convenient carrying handle. Flat sides for small hands. Available in a variety of delightful color combos. Keeping drinks ice cold for up ...
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Portable Pet Plastic Water Bottle w/ Carbon Filter

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Our Portable Dog Water Bottle w/ Carbon Filter is so easy to use. Just fill the doggy water bottle with water, screw on the lid, and squeeze the water into your dog's mouth. The carbon filter will help remove any impurities from the water, making it safe for your dog to drink.

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Eco-Friendly Bamboo Utensil Travel Set

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Your go-to sustainable flatware set for picnics, office lunches, and outdoor adventures.

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Travel Keepsake Box

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The Vault Travel Keepsake Box makes it super simple to collect, organize, and store memories from one trip or from many over the years.

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Wanderlust 7x7 Artist Handmade Leather Journal

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Embossed with a map grid and the following text: "WANDERLUST, (n) a strong desire or urge to travel and explore the world." The 7x7 square shape of the journal makes it a perfect guest book or layflat sketchbook