For the past few years now my daughter and I have gone on quite a few solo trips. We’ve been on trains, planes and automobiles. Gone on quick 5 hour trips all the way to spending the whole day in the car. In all that time I have learned a few tricks to keep her from asking that dreaded question “Are we there yet?”
Just remember everyone is different so make sure you put your own spin on these ideas. This post may also contain affiliate links. I have a full disclosure listed here for you to review.
With summer quickly approaching here is a list of 5 tips and tricks that will help you out on your long summer drives when you are traveling solo with kids.
Ever since the introduction of the smartphone, road trips have become much easier. Grab your smartphone or your kids tablet and download videos from YouTube or Netflix. Keeping the kids entertain has never been easier.
On long road trips I like to download enough videos to cover half of the drive. So for a 10 hour drive, I want at least 5 hours of videos for her to watch.
Also bring a Nintendo DS or Switch if you have one. My daughter will spend a few hours playing either one. She loves playing Mario kart while in the car. I guess it must make her feel like she is really racing while we zip past other cars on the highway.
There are hundreds of games to choose from. From there they can have countless hours of entertainment to keep themselves occupied.
2: Goodie Bag
On long road tips I like to plan on stopping every 2 to 3 hours (more on that later). So I figure out about how many stops I will be making (IE. 9 hour drive = around 4 stops). Once I have that number I will go to the dollar store or Walmart or anywhere I can pick up little “surprises” that she will get at each stop as long as she was good.
I will pick up the little blind bags of shopkins or even the little lego mini figures. There is usually a new coloring book and crayons. Sometimes there will even be “mess free” (no glue) crafts for her to do. She even has a little lap tray that has a hard surface for coloring or the crafts. The tray even comes with pockets to keep all the pens, pencils, crayons and markers with the tray. I have one that is similar to this art desk here.
Sometimes I will even put in special snacks or drinks. Basically put anything your child likes that will entice them to behave. I guess you can say that you are bribing them to be good, but hey it works.
Make sure you get enough for the ride home too.
This may almost be the most important tip. Make sure you bring plenty of snacks and drinks for the road. Last thing you want to do is spend extra money at the gas station on food and drinks.
I bring a small cooler that sits up front with me filled and I fill it up with water, soda, some juice and even a small milk. Fill that puppy up with ice and you have your drinks covered for the entire ride down.
I also have a shopping bag (or two) filled with snacks that I bought before we left. I’ll load it up with fruit snacks, pop tarts, chips, pretzels. Basically anything my daughter will eat. This tip here has saved me so much money on the numerous road trips we have taken.
Just make sure you pack your patience and tons of napkins. If they are younger kids….. there will definitely be spills.
One thing we always do while we are in the car is to talk about the place we are going. What we would like to see. What we want to do. She will always ask me if the hotel we are staying at has a pool.
I also use this time to catch up on how school is going or summer camp. Find out what her new favorite songs are or favorite YouTuber is. I’ll also give her a little history lesson or fun facts about the place we are going.
On our most recent trip to Washington DC, she filled me in with a little fun fact. She got some of it wrong but I told her that same fact last fall on our last trip there. Guess it turns out she is listening to me when I am talking to her after all. Who knew.
5: The Classics
Another thing you can do is play the classic road trip games. The ones I am sure you played as a kid with your siblings or parents as you sat in the back of a hot station wagon staring at the driver behind you.
Play I Spy. Where you start of by saying “I spy with my little eye…..” and the other person has to guess what you were looking at. It can be a little tricky in a car but that what makes it a little fun.
You can also play the alphabet game. Start off by choosing a category (IE. Places, food, animals). Than some one starts with the letter A, than the next person chooses something that starts with B and so one and so forth.
Another good game is license plate bingo. You can download and print out free pages from many different websites. Just google license plate bingo pages. You can even print out scavenger hunt pages.
I like having her do the scavenger hunt ones. If she can find everything she gets a special prize. For our road trip to Florida later this year the special prize is going to be a new set of pins for her to trade. Last year I give her an LOL doll.
Bonus: Make frequent stops
Here’s a little bonus tip. Make sure you make frequent stops. I like to do ever 2 to 3 hours. It gives us a chance to stretch our legs. Take in a little fresh air. Grab some road side pictures. Use the restroom.
I use to when I was much younger only stop for gas. I would be sitting in the car for 5 or 6 hours straight. It is not healthy for you or your kids. So just make sure you stop every few hours.
You will feel much better. Your kids will feel much better. Take the extra time to plan out your trip as well. Look and see what rest stops have large grass areas for the kids to run around in. Or maybe look for a fast food joint that has a playground that they will wear themselves out in. Than (fingers crossed) they will take a nap in the back seat.
Who knows, if you follow these simple tips that help me out you may never hear that dreaded phrase again “Are we there yet?”. I hope these solo traveling tips with kids help you as much as they helped me.