Getting Behind the Wheel: 6 Essentials for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

By David Janeson

If the thought of spending hours in the car with your kids fills you with dread, take a deep breath. With a little preparation, you and the kids can spend hours in the car together without driving each other crazy.

Whether it’s a lengthy drive to your destination or a road trip is your goal, use these tips to turn those hours in the car into a fun memory you’ll always remember.

Pack With Fun and Care in Mind

One of the best ways to keep kids occupied is to pack a bag specifically for each child that they can access as you travel. Let them participate in choosing which toys, books or other items they want to bring. Some items won’t travel well, and you’ll likely have to suggest different items or veto one or two, but overall, make sure their bag has a variety of objects for play and comfort.

Play Old Style Road Trip Games

Playing classic car games is a great way to include the entire family. “I Spy” is probably the oldest road trip game there is. Other fun family games include “Spot the License Plate” and the “Alphabet Game.”

Of course, many vehicles come with backseat entertainment centers and kids often have tablets that provide other ways to entertain. But, nothing beats the classics if you’re looking for a way to get the whole family involved.

Games Made for Travel

Look for travel versions of your child’s favorite activities. For example, Crayola makes  a variety of activity and coloring book sets designed specifically for road travel. Board games, such as travel bingo, also provide hours of fun.

Make Stops and Recharge

Plan to make frequent stops. In fact, plan on taking twice as much time on a road trip with kids than you would without them.


“Stops not only give everyone a chance to use the facilities, but they also provide a much-needed reprieve from being cooped up in a car.” — David Janeson


Take a short walk, stretch your legs and let the kids expend some energy. You’ll be surprised at how much better everyone feels once they pile back in the car for the next leg of the journey.

Pack Snacks and Essentials

Discovering new places to eat is part of the fun when it comes to traveling down the highways and byways. Travel can wreak havoc on stomachs, though, so make sure you bring healthy snacks, such as fruit, along to counter whatever else you and the kids eat.

Pack a travel bag with the essentials, such as cleaning wipes, trash bags, facial wipes, motion sickness medications and other items to clean up spills and take care of anyone who gets sick.

Have Fun

A family road trip can be one of the best experiences you can have with your children. Sure, not everything will go as planned. But, with a little preparation, you can create lasting memories the entire family will cherish.


David Janeson owns Gull Harbour Marina, a seasonal lakeside resort on beautiful Hecla Island, Manitoba.