Surviving Long Car Rides with Kids | The North Shore Moms


There are a few weeks still left of summer and if you’re considering a change of scenery, maybe a little road trip is in the cards? Today’s guest post is courtesy of Danvers mom Christina Vieira, a Family Travel Advisor and owner of Showcase the World. Keep reading for tips on how to survive time in the car with your little ones!

It has been almost five months since we paused our lives and took to our homes. Since terms like social distancing have become ubiquitous, distance learning has become our archenemy, and masks have become a part of our #OOD. With so many people going stir crazy but travel restrictions limiting international travel many families are taking to the roads. If you’ve never been on a road trip before, or the idea of being confined to a car with your kids is as terrifying as being stuck at home, here are some of the best family road trip tips.

Looking for some destination ideas check out FUN FAMILY VACATIONS YOU CAN DRIVE TO (FROM BOSTON) and Road Trips Around the NE.

Pack more snacks than you think you need…

Then pack more.

It’s best to pack mess-free snacks and drinks in individual portions. I like to make healthy snacks available at arms reach. I usually keep the sugary treats in the front with me so you can control the rationing of those items. Some of my favorite healthy options include granola or protein bars, whole grain crackers, apple slices, carrots, nuts, grapes, and individually sliced cheeses. I pack an extra supply of the non-perishable options for the ride back.

Make each child their own family road trip activity bag.

I fill my 18-month-old’s bag with her favorite lift-the-flap and press-and-say books, figurines, and animals. I always get a few new items to keep her interested. For older kids let them assist in the travel preparation process. Coloring supplies, workbooks, magnetic items to be used with cookie sheets and wiki sticks are my favorite items to send my road trip clients. We try to alternate 1 hour of screen time with 1 hour of a non-screen activity in order to maximize the quality time together as a family. We preload Annabelle’s kindle with her favorite movies as well as some she hasn’t seen before to keep it interesting.

Another recommendation would be to have a separate bag or duffel bag (that a parent is in charge of, that contains all of the family electronics. By collecting all of the iPads, chargers, and portable DVD players at every stop, they are less likely to get lost, misplaced, or left behind.


Plan your stretch breaks ahead of time.

Don’t be too ambitious about your family road trip tips that you forget to plan for pit stops and potty breaks along the way. Do research about your route ahead of time. Find great roadside attractions like historic sites, charming towns, state parks, and waterfalls that will make for a fun place to stop and take a break. If nothing else, find an open space or empty parking lot and let the kids run and get fresh air for 15-20 minutes. At this time, parents can stretch their legs and switch drivers and get emergency items from the trunk.

Make a CD or playlist for your family road trip ahead of time.

This way there is no fighting over the radio

With older kids, you can have them select a few of their favorite songs. They will be less likely to complain about the other choices when they know everyone was able to select the same number of songs and theirs will be coming up soon. Another option would be to decide on an audiobook to listen to as a family. The Harry Potter series has an incredible and engaging narrator and with 7 books to choose from they can fill any trip length.

Pack strategically.

I am one of the few people in the world who loves to pack. I love making lists, organizing, and strategizing so it is the perfect task for me (though I do HATE unpacking.) I especially love packing for road trips because not only do I strategize what to pack, I also get to decide how to pack my suitcase, AND how to pack the car. Even if you don’t love packing as much as I do, consider spending a little extra time planning everything out. If you are driving to a particular destination, consider packing small overnight bags for stops on the route. Keep everything you need for your vacation in suitcases that get put in the car first, so you don’t have to unpack the entire car at every stop on the trip. If your road trip is the destination, pack by night, not by family member and pack smaller bags. I like to pack one bag that has all of the essentials, like toiletries, chargers, and loveys that need to come into every hotel. Then I pack a bag with clothes for the first few nights, a second bag for the middle nights, and a last bag for the end.


Have a trash solution.

Be sure to have a garbage can or container in each row to contain the mess from food and drink wrappers.

Be prepared for car sickness and roadside emergencies.

We keep a Rubbermaid container in the backseat of the car with a roll of paper towels, cleaner, motion sickness medicine, Gatorade, ginger, hard candies, airsick bags, AND plastic bags. We went on a road trip in my first trimester of pregnancy that quickly taught us what to have on hand. With babies, toddlers, and even preschoolers, you may also want to keep a change of clothes easily accessible. I keep an outfit for Annabelle in the car at all times, whenever she moves up to the next size I replace it so I always have an extra if she gets dirty, wet, has a diaper explosion or any other incident. Be prepared for roadside emergencies as well. We always take our emergency kit out of the car BEFORE we pack the trunk so it is the last thing that goes in.

Hopefully, not only are you ready to go you are excited to spend some time with your family in someplace other than your house!

Wishing you could travel further? Check out our Travel From Home: Activity Guides.

Showcase the World Activity Guides bring your favorite destinations, directly to your home. Guides offer up a wide range of fun learning activities for kids of all ages, based on some of the most popular travel destinations across the globe.

Learn more about Christina in our first Meet a Mom interview. You can also find her business at and on Instagram @showcasetheworldtravel and Facebook @showcasetheworldtravel.

Join The North Shore Moms Community

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in-and-around the North Shore of Boston, MA with local events, community highlights, and exclusive deals.