road trip hacks

8 Road Trip Hacks When You Have Little Kids

These 8 road trip hacks will help you to have one of the best road trips you have ever had! Your kids will have a blast and hopefully you can relax a bit!

When we were in the southwest corner of South Dakota heading from Rapid City to Hot Springs I made this list of 8 road trip hacks for when you have little kids. We were on the tail end of our road trip. We have 5 little kids, 1 – 9 years old. I get smarter with each road trip, haha! Here are 8 road trip hacks that will help when you have little kids.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on how to survive a road trip with kids. There are some of the same tips on both. You should still go check out the other post to see what is different.

8 Road Trip Hacks

Books on CD

This is where I’m going to be a hypocrite for a minute…. Haha! I planned to get a few books on CD. I even asked my kiddos what they would want to listen to. But I never got around to it.

I have heard from friends that have used books on CD that it helps to entertain their kids while driving. I was excited to give it a try. Next time!

Fun Car Food

Before we left, I let each one of my kids, well besides my baby, pick a snack and a treat. I wanted to have something in the car that they were excited about.

They chose:

  • 9 yo: Vanilla Wafers and Kit Kat Bars (I bought the 12 pack of little ones)
  • 7 yo: Pop Tarts and Hershey Bar (I bought the 12 pack of little ones)
  • 5 yo: Fruit Roll Ups and Mints (mint: leave the mints sealed in their original bag, unless you want a lot of snacks to taste minty.)
  • 3 yo: Fish Crackers (Bought 12 pack of individual bags) and Starburst
  • 1 yo: mom’s milk and crackers 😉
  • Eddy: diet cream soda and Salsa Verde Doritos
  • Steph: yogurt, protein bar, apple and peanut butter

We couldn’t eat just crackers and treats so I packed some healthy snacks, things for lunches, and everyone’s water bottles.

Healthy Snacks:

  • Cuties
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Go-Gurts
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Almonds


  • Uncrustables for Eddy and two kiddos
  • Deli meat, cheese, and crackers for the kiddos who don’t like uncrustables
  • Salad for me

We planned to not stop for lunch, but to just eat in the car. It helped to save some money and keep us driving a little longer.

Snack Bags

My most favorite thing about road trips is constantly turning around and handing my all of a sudden helpless children anything and everything. Said NO ONE EVER! Haha! In my older age I get car sick faster. So, this adds to the calmness of our trip and the happiness of me.

I decided to try a thing, I make snack bags for the four big kids. I wrote their name on a plastic bag. Then I put the exact same thing in each bag. I’ve done this when we have flown but never on road trips.

  • Some of each of their snack and treat that the kids picked
  • Apple
  • Cutie
  • Bag of cut up veggies
  • Applesauce pouch
  • Almonds

There was a good amount of food and plenty of variety. The plan was to not turn around unless they needed something from the cooler or when it was lunch time. I am sorry to say it didn’t work! Haha!

Well, it worked a little bit. I still got to reach back to our three-year-old and help her get some food opened and ready.

The extra snacks I had ready to fill up their snack bags for the next day of our road trip. Most of the snacks lasted throughout the whole trip. I did make one grocery trip to add more produce, uncrustables, and a few more snacks.

In the future I will do snack bags again, but I think I’ll have them help me pack theirs up. That way I’ll get things in there that they want and will eat.

Activity Bag, Binder, Clipboard

I have done a variety of activity bags, binders, or clipboards on different vacations. When we have traveled by plane I like bags. I put their snack bag, water bottle, and activities in their own backpack. It works SO well!

For this road trip I decided to do clipboards. I bought new clipboards because our old ones were lost or not good quality. Then I found some pencil pouches for three ring binders and only had to buy one.

I filled the pencil pouches with crayons, markers (for just the older three), pen, and mechanical pencil, and post it notes. The clipboards had plain printer paper and some activity or coloring pages.

My kiddos kept these by their seat the whole trip so they could do what they wanted too whenever. My three-year-old broke her mechanical pencil pretty quickly. I also didn’t give her a pen or markers because I’m not stupid, I know what she will do… haha!

The post its are always a bit hit. They have fun with them and end up on the windows or other places in the car.

Pack whatever things you think your child will have fun with, keep their attention for a good amount of time, and that they will be excited about.

Planned Stops

There are some places that are great to stop at while others are just okay. If you can plan to stop at places that will give the kiddos a chance to run around for a bit or play is a great option.

Or if there are places you want to visit and see then you will want to plan those into your travel plans.

Screen Time

This is a fun one! We have two portable DVD players. We also have two of our old iPhones that have a few games on them each. Our kiddos don’t have their own tablets (we have an old iPad but it’s currently not working), phones, or get to use the computer too often.

My kiddos LOVE being able to have our old phones, especially our two oldest. They love to take videos and pictures as we drive. We only bring them out on road trips. It will entertain them for a long time.

On this Mount Rushmore Road trip our 5 and 3 year old’s have loved to watch movies. They pretty much watch the same few over and over.

A trick that I use is to bring out the screens after we have been driving for a while when they are bored with everything else and starting to drive you nuts. It will save you and you’ll thank me for telling you to wait a bit.

You’re welcome! 😉


This road trip I got the smart idea to put a garbage in the back with the kids. Why didn’t I think of this before?! It was simple. I hung a grocery sack on the arm of the chair in the middle row.

No more did we have a ton of garbage in the back, just half a ton. Ha! And we didn’t have to keep reaching back to collect their garbage all the dang time!

I also put in extra grocery bags in the car so we could empty the garbage bags often. This is something I have done for a while now.


This is not a light bulb idea. But, when we have fun music it seems to help our drive go by a little more fun. Especially when Eddy and I get singing and dancing… 🙂

What are some of your favorite road trip hacks that have helped you and the kiddos?? Please share below. And share this post on FB, IG, and Pintrest. I’d love you more. 🙂

Xxx, Steph

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