Five ways to keep your kids content on a road trip

Children are naturally energetic. They’re impatient and rambunctious. When you take your children on a trip with you, it changes the vibe completely. While you want to relax if you’re on vacation, it can be difficult having kids around. This is particularly the case for road trips, when there is a lot of extra time sitting in the car. Luckily there are a few great tactics to help keep your children happy and content while being on the road for hours at a time. Here are a few of those tips to make sure the whole family stays in a good mood.


Be Clear about Durations of Drives

When you’re about to be on the road for hours, you might think that it’s a good idea to string your kids along and avoid telling them how long the drive will be. This is actually the wrong move. You should prepare them for it by telling them how long the drive will be, when you will stop, and what the final destination for the day is. It’s important to give them something to look forward to, which is why planning fun stops is so helpful. Whether you’re stopping at a national park or just a roadside attraction, giving your children something to look forward to will keep them content.

Plan Refueling

While you may have the idea that you should stop early to get gas as a tactic to quell your child’s impatience, this can actually lead to a distorted perspective on how long it is. It’s vital not to stop so often so when you do it’s for food, fun, and fuel. This is also imperative for those who drive electric cars because they need to plan where they will charge on public EV charging stations. It offers a clear plan for when you need to stop so map those out on your way and tell your children when and why you will be stopping. Managing expectations is a huge part of keeping your children happy on the road.

Reward Them for Good Behavior

Along the way, if your child is behaving you should reward them for it. When they’re quiet and polite, drive through their favorite fast food or go out of the way to stop somewhere they like. Whatever attraction, restaurant, sweet, or activity your children like can be a great way to reward them for good behavior and keep them content for the hours ahead.

Bring Snacks

One thing that’s essential for road trips is snacks. Healthy and tasty snacks are a great way to pass the time, avoid getting hungry, and wait to stop. You should, of course, limit the intake of fluids the kids have so you don’t have to stop for the bathroom every 50 miles. Snacks are essential when you’re on the road, but don’t bring things that are unhealthy. If your child eats a whole bag of chips, they will feel poorly and need to go to the bathroom. It’s all about balance. Bring the right amount of good, healthy, and filling snacks but don’t pack too much junk food.

Plan Bathroom Breaks

The biggest delay when you’re on a road trip is the bathroom break. You should be clear with your kids that you are going to stop on scheduled stops to go to the bathroom. This should coincide with when you need to fuel your car. Tell your kids that you will stop a certain number of times to go to the bathroom and they will have to wait if they don’t go to the bathroom when you stop. If you’re clear, your children will get the point.

These aren’t just the only tips to make sure your children are content during a road trip, but they are a great place to start. Talk to your kids. Be clear about what the plan is, what they will get when they are good, and where you will stop for fun, food, and fuel. It doesn’t matter where you are going, how long it will take, and what your child is prone to do, you can make the road trip with the family super fun and exciting.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler.