Seeking Car Trip Advice

Updated on November 18, 2011
J.M. asks from Elgin, IL
15 answers

We are driving to Florida (from Illinois) and I have a almost 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. I think I have enough entertainment and snacks, but just in case is there anything you wouldn't leave home without for a long car trip? Anything you wish you would have brought when you were on a long car trip? Thanks!

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answers from Chicago on

Bowls - for snacks in case you have big bags or just want them to share something or create less mess in the car!

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answers from Houston on

Earplugs for everyone!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I raised three kids and a grandson and made about 40 trips to Florida mostly by car so hope you don't mind a grammy's experience. We found the kids were best if we drove early in morning and around dinner time. We would drive about an hour before stopping for breakfast. We took breaks every few hours at rest areas where they could run around. Looking forward to hotel with pool was fun. By doing this we were able to drive long days and arrive with peaceful anticipation of our vacation. The ride home was usually better with memories of fun things with M. and dad. Lastly,we relied on books on tape from library. Each kid got to pick their own and either took turns with everyone listening or had their own device. While many think long drive with kids is tedious,you can make it fun.

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answers from Chicago on

bucket with plastic bags that fit inside = make-shift toliet
plastic bags (check for holes) for garbage & throw-up
wipes, roll of paper towels, roll of toliet paper, beach towels
DVD player & a few new suprise DVDs
books on tape or "playaways" (check out from library)
AA and AAA batteries
overabundance of snacks (more the better)
juice boxes & water bottles (pick bottels w/ caps that they cannot remove)
backpack for each child w/ toys, some old, some new (think dollar store)
Zoobs (if your children like building things)
coloring books w/ crayons (no markers)
books with lots of pictures (think I Spy)
books w/ stickers
pillow/stuffed animals (something to cuddle & rest heads on)

People say 2-3 hours and then stop. We tried that a few times and setting a time limit has only frustrated everyone. Either the kids don't have to go and it turns into an argument or it isn't time to eat or fill up with gas, etc. We drive until someone says they gotta go. Then we find a nice looking truck stop or big gas station and stop, top off the tank, convince all kids to visit the bathroom, and get back on the road. Our kids know to give us a warning in advance (or else they have to use the bucket!)

Lots of people have mentioned bringing things for rest stops. We've tried that a few times and most of the time can't find a good spot for sports or scooter riding. Plus, my husband wants to get going and a prolonged stop just makes him crazy. I wouldn't plan on it. We normally walk around the rest stop, checking out the map desks or whatever's hanging on the walls. There's a nice rest stop in KY called the Kentucky Artisan Center (lots to see and walk around). Another good rest stop is in the mountains of NC (there's only one - great views & a hill for the kids to climb). I've almost always found IN rest stop bathrooms a mess (prefer truck stops in IN).

As much as I like sitting in the front passenger seat it really is easier on nerves to sit in the back with the kids. I can help facilitate the passing out of snacks, change DVDs, pick up dropped items...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

For long car trips I always pack a stash of small new toys, games, etcetera that I can hand out as needed and plan lots of stops along the way to stretch (this drives my husband crazy but it really does help). Also when possible we leave after dinner and drive as much as we can through the night so kids sleep and we take turns, this has worked very well for us. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I still buy baby wipes to use on the go. Perfect for wiping off hands and face after eating.
Bring a ball to kick around at a rest stop.

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answers from Washington DC on


That's a long drive. I hope you plan on stopping about every two hours to let the kids out and run. That's what we do when we take trips that are long - VA to MA or GA...even in my mom and dad's motor home - we stop every 2 or 3 hours.

Napkins and/or diaper wipes - I STILL have them in my purse and my boys are 9 and 11.

A portable roll of toilet can get one at Target for $1. Helps when there is no toilet paper at a rest stop or if you HAVE to stop at the side of the road.

Lip balm, lotion, band aids.

Drinks, grapes (my family loves cheese and grapes).

DVDs, ear phones, extra batteries, car chargers. Each of my boys has their own travel bag that their DS, DVD player and snacks are in. They each also have an extra change of clothes - even for a car ride - just in case the drinks fall....I know, I know. But that's me - planning for it all!!!

Good luck and have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Medicines...lip balm, hand cream, tylenol, etc.. It seems for our family, car trips brought out the worst. One of our daughters gets diahrrea on the road. So imodium is important for her :) Another daughter gets cold sores when she is stressed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We made two very long car trips this summer from Illinois. Each of our kids packed a small backpack of things to bring which included their DS's, a couple books to read, magnetic road trip toys (just saw some at World Market), a small chalkboard with colored chalk (wet wipes work great to clean the chalkboard), dry erase board with washable markers, plain white paper with crayons so they could draw things they saw along the way. Boys brought some action figures. We had a couple I-pod's/MP3 players to play games on or listen to music.We have a DVD player so we brought a few redbox movies that they haven't seen and just turned them in at a redbox along the way. They are everywhere it seems but check your route first. They each had a memory foam travel pillow and their own lightweight blanket. We like to leave at about 7 pm so the kids are up for a few hours but not long enough to get bored. Make a bathroom stop and then it's lights out. Then they sleep through the night while my husband and I drive. Stop for breakfast in the morning when they start waking and you shouldn't be to many hours away from your destination. Whatever items you bring, make sure some of the items are new. Dollar Tree usually has inexpensive things like the dry erase boards I bought. For $3 they had lots of fun. I always bring a roll of paper towels, roll of toilet paper and wet wipes.Have a great trip!

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answers from Chicago on

We just went on a 15 hour drive (7, 4, 1)
*you can always stop at a store
Netflix/dvd player for when it's dark out
Everyone stop for potty break (so much stopping when we let them decided)
Coloring/little toys
Snacks (fruit strips from target and the drinkable applesauce are a family favorite)
Stop to move around...we did too much back to back driving
Missed alot of mountain views driving at night
Brought lunch items to reduce eating out cost
Sitting in the back with the kids helped me out



answers from Chicago on

NoDoze, coffee & several good cd's if you don't have an iPod connector or SAT radio. I drove overnight. My son was 4 and my daughter was 6. They slept all the way to Georgia where we stopped at a relative's home to eat & rest before continuing the trip. We did the same on the way back. It was perfect. They woke up refreshed and enthusiastic. Do take a cooler with snacks, water and juice.



answers from Miami on

Are you stopping at night at hotels. I would suggest every morning let them play in the pool for atleast a half hour or if you stop early enough in the evening. Also stop mid day for a meal at a plae the kids can run around. Even if its one of those hated fast food restuarants with a play area. It will help yiou quite a bit



answers from New York on

A cooler filled with snacks and beverages. I remember a trip we took when the kids were little and hubby said "we'll just stop and get something to eat". Well we couldn't find a restaurant and the kids and I were miserable.



answers from Rockford on

I drive to South/Central Ohio about 3 to 4 times a year from Illinois. That is no where near as long of a drive as Florida, but 9 hours in a car can be a bit trying, especially since I tend to do it alone with two kids (ages 1 and 3). My family is in Ohio, and if my husband is out of town/state for business I tend to go home and see family. Anyway, I saw a few other people say to try to leave early early in the morning. I cannot tell you how much that helped me!! I tend to leave at ungodly hours in the morning, like 3 or 4am. My kids will sleep for at LEAST 4 more hours, if not a couple more because it is a car ride. For my daughter (the 3 year old) a portable DVD player that can play on a loop is really nice for when she is awake. The loop feature is good so you don't have to change the DVD while driving, and again, since I tend to do it alone I would have to stop to do it, and that bugs me. *laugh*
My kids are also amused by coloring books and little toys. I try not to take any that sing songs or make too much noise, because after hearing it for 5 hours straight, I am ready to throw it out the window on the highway. Other than that, music for you, and if you aren't driving and it doesn't make you car sick maybe a good book or two. Take advantage of rest areas to let your kids get out and run around for a little bit.

Have fun!



answers from Miami on

Pillow case and towel from home. (Scents of home are comforting when asleep).

extra underwear for accidents


prescriptions just in case


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