Below is my family road trip packing list after dozens of road trips over the past 7 years of parenthood. I hope they help you with the “are we there yet??” questions as well as make the time much more enjoyable! We have used all these products recommended.
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Table of Contents:
- Must Haves for Inside Your Car
- Free Activities
- Car Activities for $5 and under
- Games for Under $20
- And yes, some screens
Must-Haves for Your Road Trip with Kids Packing List:
- Trash bags! (and more than you think you need!) When we are pulling into arest stop or gas station, I play the Clean Up song and we see who can grab the most trash while still being buckled!
- String and a Clothespin: I heard a great idea from the Lazy Genius Podcast episode “How to Holiday Road Trip” which I can’t wait to implement on our next road trip! You bring a string and a clothespin and move the clothespin along the string at certain intervals to make a visual of how far you need to go. It’s a great answer to the never-ending “are we there yet??” questions! You could also print out a map (or get one free at a state rest stop!) and have kids mark off how far you’ve come.
- Snack Bag: Most moms don’t need to be reminded to pack the snacks but a fun tip is to use your child’s lunch boxes for snacks in the car! (we love using these 4 compartment snack containers from Amazon for $12.99)
FREE Road Trip Activities
- I Spy: Classic for ages 3 and up. “I spy with my little eyes…”
- ABC Game: Look around for things that start with each letter of the alphabet trading turns until one of you is stumped!
- 20 Questions: So many varieties from only Food, only Movies, only Celebrities etc.
- Check out an Audiobook from the Library: Our local library has a great selection on their free Libby app. We listened to Winnie the Pooh and Disney stories recently. Some great “listen-alouds” that are available include: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mo Willems books like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mary Poppins, Frog and Toad, Pinkalicious, A Wrinkle in Time, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
- Mad Libs: You can find tons of free kids’ ones by searching on google!
Car Activities for around $5 and under:
- Dollar Tree is my favorite place for cheap road trip fun! I love their sticker collections, checking out the $1 books and the small toys. Recently I found Car Bingo although there’s no telling what’s available from day to day.
- On the Go Water Wow Reveal Pad: My kids loved these since they were toddlers and still ask for them now at ages 3 and 6! Many options for a single one and packs of 3 are below. Trace ABCs (pictured below), Under the Sea and Fairytales.
- Wikki Stix We first saw these fun and mess-free wax sticks at a hotel and I’ve purchased many more for flights and road trips with kids. You can mold them into all sorts of fun things or use them to “draw” different pictures.
Games for under $20 to add to your Road Trip with Kids Packing List:
- Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Activity Set, 30+ Pieces, Toddler Toys, Gift for Kids 3, 4, 5, 6 – We’ve had loads of these Mess Free Coloring sheets and they are perfect for the car!
- Magnatab – Another of our family’s favorite! We’ve had this toy for 4 years and it is sturdy, oddly satisfying even for adults and has provided hours of fun! They also have an Alphabet Magnatab and a Numbers Magnatab to check out.
- LCD Writing Tablet — This is another of our must haves that we use on all trips! We actually got a different one but I like this one better since it has a string to not loose the stylus pen… which has happened a ton! Fun to scribble messages and pass around the car or practice letters and numbers.
I hope these tips and activities help in your road trip planning! And if you’re traveling to Washington, D.C., be sure to check out some amazing socially distanced activities, the best Northern Virginia playgrounds, and the best MD playgrounds near DC!
Let me know in the comments or over on Instagram if you have any other tips or questions!