5 Car Tips to Make Traveling With Kids Easier

car travel with kids

Any kind of travel with kids can be…complicated. But long travel in the car with kids is no easy feat.

Let’s face it – it’s stressful and usually chaotic. But maybe it doesn’t have to be.

Did you remember the bags? The diapers? Do you have enough activities? What would you do if there’s a spill or accident? While you can’t ever account for every emergency (even though you probably wish you could!) here are some car tips and tricks I’ve learned while traveling with littles.

1. Give Each Bag Its Own Job

Whether you’re roading tripping for a few hours or a few days, my number one tip is to give, each bag its own purpose.

One bag for everyone’s toiletries. One bag for the stop overnight at the hotel (containing packing cubes with each individual family member’s things, of course). One bag for snacks. One for all technology (the Ipads, the chargers, etc). And then one for each individual member’s clothing and personal items.  

This cuts down on digging through multiple bags trying to find items. Looking for a hairbrush while on the road? It’s in the toiletry bag. Looking for the baby’s extra bottles? It’s in the food/snack bag. Need an iPad charger? It’s in the tech bag. 

2. Intentional Gadgets 

I’m not here to push a ton of products to crowd in your car when it comes to car travel with kids. But there are a few worth considering that have saved me. First things first, this car trash can. I will (weirdly) sing this thing’s praises forever. Kids come with little scraps of things. Wrappers, napkins, wipes. You know it, I’m sure. 

Is my car still a mess half the time? Absolutely. But does this save my sanity between deep cleans? For sure. This helps keep the straw wrappers and tiny messes contained. It allows me to quickly pick up what I can reach when we stop then toss and replace the plastic bag inside. It’s not going to be the big solution you wish it were to keep your car clean with kids (maybe when they’re in college, right?) but it keeps the scraps and wrappers off the floor. And even that feels like a win for me. 

Other products I’ve used or heard friends speak highly of are; an iPad seat hook for traveling and watching movies, a trunk organizer for day trips, and back-of-the-seat organizers for all the little things you need while traveling. 

The (trunk) potty

Hear me out: a car potty. I pushed this off for way too long. Then I finally gave in after my first was potty trained. Dare I say, I regret it.

Just lean in, friends. I promise you won’t regret having a truck potty when you’re in the middle of nowhere on the highway and a kid needs to use the facilities…that are nonexistent. Or when you’re at the park during a pit stop and would rather your kid squat in the trunk than in a disgusting porta-potty. Just trust me on this one. Oh, and get these bags. I used grocery bags for way too long and it was more hassle to stress about whether they might have a hole in the bottom than saving a few bucks!

3. Plastic bags and baby wipes 

Speaking of bags, always carry some grocery bags in your car. Don’t forget to stock some extra grocery bags for trash bags, car sick bags, or to help contain the chaos. You will use them, I promise. Even though I haven’t had a kid in full-time diapers for a hot minute, I also still keep a pack or two of wipes in my car, (rather than just napkins from the drive-thru window). Baby wipes keep sticky fingers clean, allow for a quick wipe of a spilled drink, and extinguish endless other situations.  

4. Activities Without Small Pieces

Chances are, if you’re traveling with small kids you’re looking to keep them entertained. I get it. You have a bag packed with activities to keep them busy and somewhat pleasant while you drive. However, (especially if you have older kids) consider what you’re giving them and how. Markers and drawing objects are great for older kids who can be trusted with them. But do you have a way to store them when they’re not being used, such as a container, pouch, or pencil case? Otherwise, you should expect they’ll be sprinkled all over the floor of your car. 

Bonus Tip

If you have a smaller baby or toddler you’re handing back several toys throughout your travels to, keep the bag you’re using to contain those handy and “reset” when you stop. Grab the toys you’ve given your child already on the trip and reload them into your bag. This way, you can start over when you continue. It will buy you distraction time. 

5. A Mix of New and Familiar Activities 

While this tip depends on the age of the child, consider bringing along both new and familiar toys/activities to keep them entertained. Generally, if I know we’ll be going on a longer trip in the coming weeks or months, I’ll keep an eye out for new toys and store them away. This way, I’m not buying a ton of new things at a time and can carefully and intentionally pick what I know my kids will love (and what will keep them busy!). 

If you choose to just go out and buy a ton of new items, there’s a chance your child won’t know “how to play” with what you got. Don’t forget to mix in some familiar toys and activities with the new exciting ones! 

Bonus Tip

If your child likes to read, pick books that have many little things to look at. The baby books with several pictures on each page. Also, look into encyclopedia-style books for older children. Books like this take longer to go through. Rather than story books, where a child can read or flip through the pages more quickly. 

Travel is stressful for everyone. But with these car tips for traveling with kids, maybe you’ll be a little more at ease!