7 Tips for a Successful Travel Day ... With Kids

Helpful, relatable advice from an RVing mom of two toddlers.

Nic & Jess Farish Nic & Jess Farish  |  12.24.2018

Traveling with kids, amiright?

I mean, who doesn’t love the crying, the screaming, the tired feelings? Yeah, me neither. We have been there, raised the blood-pressure, cried into our coffee, and trial-and-errored our way through. If you love traveling with your kids, (read: the exploring, adventuring, seeing the world through their eyes part) here is a list of tips and tricks we have compiled that are working for us!

travel days with kids

1. Prepare Your Kids

We have our checklists for the RV, our route for our trip, and our procedures for leaving a campground and heading out to a new one. But the biggest part of a travel day is our kids. Nic and I make sure to prepare them mentally ahead of time and tell them a travel day is coming. Or if it is a long trip, we will tell them we have a couple of long travel days, just so they know what they are headed for. Our boys do much better if they know a travel day is upon us, and it helps when we tell them where we are heading and a few fun things about the place or things we plan on doing while we are there!

travel days with kids

2. Let Them Eat Cake

Just kidding, but you better have food ready to grab. When you are traveling with children, especially younger ones, snacks are high on the priority list. Driving turns children into ravenous beasts – check my math, it’s scientific. They will eat everything in the first 15 minutes if you don’t ration, so make sure you show them who’s in charge of the snacky-snacks early on! Try to keep snacks on the healthier, non-full-of-sugar side – it will help cut out the extra wiggles. Also, make sure the snacks are not all kept in the fortress that is the spin-locked refrigerator. Have some on hand, in a basket, in a bag, in a box … I feel like I’m in a Dr. Seuss book. But honestly, you better have them here or there because your kids WILL eat them everywhere … too much? I agree.

travel days with kids

3. Take a Break

Our boys need to move! We try to stop and explore every hour and a half or so, when we see neat roadside attractions or locations, clean/safe rest stops (especially if they have a playground), parks, or just large areas of land to let the boys run some.

travel days with kids

One time, we pulled over to rest a minute near a forest (after watching Pete’s Dragon with our boys for the first time). It turned into a search for pine cones and baby dragons. It’s now a lifetime memory, allowed for a great travel break, and offered the most gorgeous golden sunset. You can plan the location of the stops beforehand, happen upon neat places (we found a dinosaur “museum” on the side of the road that was a blast), or just pull over and take a walk.

travel days with kids

4. Know Your People

Plan your travel times. How long do you travel each day? We try to make small moves from place-to-place and travel slowly. But there are also times when we have had three days of driving straight through. Those times come up and it’s good to think about these things ahead of time when planning your trip. We know our boys and they need to stop and move every two to three hours. Our boys CAN travel six hours a day, but anything longer is a disaster. And honestly, anything that happens after that point is completely on Nic and I, since we know what their limit is. Womp womp. Nothing hits you like parent guilt. HA! But I digress, we like to keep it around four hours max if we can, pushing it to six if we really need it.

travel days with kids

5. Plan Activities Galore

When I watched movies growing up, I thought the “are we there yet?” scenes were a bit dramatic, but it turns out, every kid is born with an internal handbook of travel sayings, and this one is at the top of the list. If you want to quail the “how much longer” blues, make sure you have plenty of activities on hand. You can always do the sing-a-longs, I spies, and other car games, but with younger kids, we’ve found a few great things to have on hand!

travel days with kids

Our travel day regulars are:

  • a lap desk
  • coloring book and crayons
  • felt book/magnetic book activities
  • limited tablet time
  • books
  • educational things like flashcards (hole punch them and put them on a ring for easy flipping)
  • lacing boards (great for fine-motor skills)
  • fuzzy friends and blankets

I keep a basket next to the boys’ seats with the activities in closable file boxes. We call these “Fun Packs.” They grab them, play with the things inside, return it to the basket when they finish, and pick a new one! Make four or five of these and you are set for travel days for a whole season (or longer if you don’t travel often).

travel days with kids

Cuddling with some friends while stopped for a rest.

6. Release the Secret Weapon

We keep a “Treasure Box” (plastic bin – super easy) on hand as well. It’s where we keep a few new things for the boys. These items are perfect for when our boys are doing a great job and we want to surprise them with something extra fun, when the activities they have been doing are a bit outdated or overplayed, when the boys are getting restless and we are aaaaaaalmost there, or when we get stuck traveling on a rainy or very cold day and we are kept inside the cabin most of the day.

travel days with kids

These don’t have to be shiny, expensive, noise making toys. In fact, we don’t do noise making toys on travel days, because that’s just asking for it. These are stickers, magnetic activities, glow bracelets, etc. that I grab from time-to-time in the dollar section of Target or Dollar Tree, because fancy. I like to do themed ones when we are headed to the beach (sandcastle toys, sunglasses) or somewhere I can incorporate a lesson into it. #IAmATeacher.

travel days with kids

7. Get Out & Go!

At the end of the day, you know your kids and what they can handle. Maybe you need to mix a movie into the rotation. We found our youngest gets motion-sick, so we found some things to help him travel better. Remember, stay flexible because the tired feelings, tears and screaming are probably going to sneak up at some point. A sour travel day every-now-and-then is just bound to happen, but now you will be prepared. And know you aren’t alone … because other traveling parents’ kids are doing it too. That’s better, right?

travel days with kids

So, get your RV checklist checked, grab your kids, your snack basket, and your fun packs. Then get going! Oh, and don’t forget the coffee … because kids. And coffee.

If you have some other helpful travel tips with kids, please pass them our way in the comments section!

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  1. R Hope Posted on 07.15.2019

    Hopefully, your kids don’t sit facing sideways!
    That is so dangerous. So many people assume that just because a seatbelt has been installed in an RV, it must be safe. RV manufactures should be banned from installing sideways facing seatbelts. For the sake of kid’s safety, please don’t use sideways facing seatbelts.

  2. matthew Posted on 12.28.2018

    Great article and advice!! Love following yalls adventure!

  3. jill farish Posted on 12.28.2018

    Love their blogs! Helps to know how it works with the kiddos and that they gave it all handled well! Grandma has a special monitor too that can follow along knowing where they are. Great for a family member to have. The kids love their new home and I get to hear about all their awesome adventures! Nic and Jess make it work so easily……love to hear all the experiences and pictures!