How to survive a road trip with kids: 8 tips to get you through the journey in one piece

You’ve picked the destination, chosen your hire car and booked the flights. But there’s one more important thing you need to consider when dealing with family road trips abroad: survival. Here’s how to make it through in one piece…

Ah, the humble road trip. While we’re big fans of getting behind the wheel to really get the feel for a place, we also live in the real world: being stuck on an endless motorway with a gaggle of whiny offspring in the back of the car can dampen even the strongest of spirits. Yes, we’ve already brought you ideas of destinations for the ultimate family road trip and how to nail the Malaysia border crossing in a car, but now we’re taking it to the next level. Read on for tips on how to survive a road trip with kids and making it through with your family unit still intact.

1. Plan your driving

You know what it’s like raising children – prepare for the worst and you’ll most often end up being pleasantly surprised. And, in the case of surviving a road trip with kids, the worst-case scenario is screaming, bored-out-of-their-brains little people driving you insane. Instead of pushing them to their limits each day, do some prep before you set off. Work out how many hours of drive time you can realistically expect your minis to “behave” before you want to throw them out the window.

2. Expect bad patches

It probably sounds like we’re contradicting ourselves in an article that’s meant to tell you how great road trips are, but we’re also realists. Kids have tantrums. Heck, us parents have tantrums. So, as amazing as road trips are for spending Q-time with your fam, also don’t forget to take off those rose-tinted specs. Every family holiday, whether it’s spent in a car or by the beach, has its ugly moments. 

3. Safety first

An absolute must is ensuring your kiddos are safe and secure in a suitable restraint that’s legal in the country you’re visiting. Car rental companies can kit you out so that even the miniest adventurer is safely strapped in and ready to hit the road. Again, do your research beforehand so you aren’t faced with any Homer Simpson “D’oh!” moments upon arrival. 

4. Nail your in-car entertainment

To minimise cries of “Are we nearly there yet?”, get your thinking caps on and get prepping. We’re talking fully-charged iPads, magnetic travel games (be prepared to lose every single piece), Baby Shark on loop and – not to be overlooked – the humble audiobook. Predownload a few age-appropriate titles before you set off from home so you don’t get stung with diabolical data charges while on the move. They’re also a great way to get you talking as a family (because isn’t the whole point of a road trip to bond with your clan?) and avoid too much screen time.  

5. Stop and do fun things

Park the car, stretch those legs and see the sights! Photography: Daiga Ellaby via Unsplash

You may enjoy admiring the scenery during the drive, but we can guarantee your kids won’t get as much out of it as you. Which brings us to this handy tip: do all the things. Make loads of pitstops and get out of the car to take in the scenic views, visit random attractions or enjoy a snack break. While we’re totally advocating planning and prep, be open to spontaneous stops, too – sometimes it’s those spur-of-the-moment places that are the most fun. 

6. Give motion sickness the middle finger

There’s one thing that quickly turns a happy road trip into the stuff of nightmares: car sickness. Keep the car well ventilated, limit reading or screen time, avoid heavy meals (or, conversely, empty tummies) and ensure your littlies are well-rested. Us mums in the HoneyKids office also swear by ginger biscuits – ginger is known to help settle upset stomachs, and biscuits are always well received!

7. Always GPS it

Unless you want your marriage to dissolve when you’re halfway between A and B, ensure you have a GPS installed in your vehicle. Trust us: it will shut down any arguments about whose fault missing that vital turn was. Another solution is grabbing yourself a tourist SIM in your destination country and loading it with a data bundle so you can use Google Maps.

8. Load up with snacks

Besides tired kids and bored kids, there’s one other type of child that strikes fear in our hearts: hungry ones. To survive a road trip, make sure you’re kitted out with nibbles and drinks so that if hanger strikes, you’re fully armed. Easy fruit options, like apples and bananas, are great options, as is dried fruit, little pots of goldfish crackers or cereal, breadsticks and sunflower seeds. Take your refillable water bottles too to minimise your plastic usage.  

And finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourselves! Take loads of photos and make sure you do something with them so you can cherish all those memories forever. The good ones, anyway.

Top image: photography by Atish Sewmangel via Unsplash

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