The road trip. Is there any better way to enjoy everything summer has to offer? Rolling down the highway. The fresh breeze whipping through your hair. Your favorite songs on the radio. Nothing between you and your destination except the winding, open road.

Except gridlock. Detours. Delays. A lack of foreseeable pit stops for miles upon miles. And the inevitable refrain no one wants to hear on a trip: “Are we there yet?”

If summertime traffic is a burden for you as a parent, just imagine what it’s like for your kids. You’re used to it by now. But they’re cooped up in the back seat. Rolling down the highway? More like stalling on the highway. That summer breeze is now a stagnant cloud of halted engines. They don’t know your favorite songs. More importantly, they don’t want to know your favorite songs.

Travelling with children can be its own adventure, even when you don’t have to deal with traffic. And while it can be exciting, it can also be frustrating as well.  But you can minimize the latter by planning ahead. Here are 6 great car activities for kids that can keep them entertained the next time you’re on a road trip.

Convenient Travel Time Isn’t Always Going To Be Convenient

No, leaving the house at 5 in the morning may not seem like the most exciting time to kick off a road trip. But it will ultimately save you both time, traffic and aggravation. Make certain everything is packed and ready to go the night beforehand. Children’s bodies are still accustomed to their natural sleep cycles, whether they’re in a car or in their bedroom. If your destination is only a few hours away, an early head start means you’ll be almost at the finish line by the chance they wake up.

Reward Them With Gifts

Nothing extravagant. A sticker book. A box of crayons. Small knick knacks. But something tangible as a reward for their patience. If it’s a particularly long trip, you can use multiple trinkets and gifts throughout as part of a reward system—but don’t tell them what they are ahead of time. Let them know it will be a surprise if. Everyone, young and old, loves unexpected surprises. They may not seem like much, but it can go a long way in encouraging patience as a virtue.

Don’t Skimp On The Snacks

But be healthy! There will undoubtedly be more than a few pit stops along the way you’re going to need to make. Unfortunately, they’ll largely be confined to fast food restaurants, and hungry kids can resist the temptation of a Value Meal, no matter how bad for them it might be. Make certain their stomachs aren’t rumbling by the time you get there. Nutritious substitutes like fruit, whole grain crackers, yogurt and plenty of bottled water and all natural juices will help them overlook the sight of those golden arches when you need to stretch your legs for a bit

Gadgets Can Be A Driver’s Best Friend

And we don’t just mean a GPS navigator. Yes, the electronic bleeps and bloops from their tablets might seem distracting. But when you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, it will keep your kids entertained when a few rounds of “I Spy” are too repetitive for both of you. Make certain their devices are fully charged the night beforehand, and don’t forget the portable chargers. Road trips are one time you can find yourself grateful they want to play for “just five more minutes.”

Box Up Their Favorite Toys And Activities

No, that doesn’t mean letting your kids root through luggage until your back seat looks like a clearance sale at a toy store. But a shoe box full of the toys of their choice, along with a handful of puzzles, activity books and their favorite stuffed animals and security blankets can make your car seem like a portable home away from home. So much so that you may just find them asking when their next road trip adventure will be!

Relax! It’s A Road Trip!

Once you let them know ahead of time what they might expect, children can be a lot more understanding and patient than you’d suspect. Younger kids, in particular. Encourage them to use their imaginations by making up a story about anything that catches their eye out the window—even when you’re stuck in gridlock. You’d be surprised at what they can come up with. So surprised, you’ll likely find yourself joining in their adventures.

Just don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road, please.

Need more tips on travelling with kids? At Handprints Academy, we’re always happy to help parents out with suggestions on how to make the most of family time—both at home and away from home. Email us at [email protected] or visit us at to find out how we can help you, too!