10 Tips for How to Take a Road Trip With Kids by Yourself

If you are going on a road trip with kids by yourself, then you will need these tips and tricks to have an easy journey with the children – especially if you’re going by yourself! These ideas will make for the perfect road trip vacation with your family.

Hey y’all, Tiffany here.

Yes, I took the kids on a road trip by myself.

Playing some of these car games for road trips was a lifesaver.


And make sure you read these self-care tips for traveling alone!

How to Take a Road Trip With Kids by Yourself


1. Organize, organize, organize

I just can’t say enough about how important it is to keep your car organized when you’re taking a road trip with kids by yourself! Even though a disorganized home can be a compliment, it’s not the same on a road trip with kids, trip! If a kid asks for a water bottle or a snack, there’s no other adult to turn around and get it for them!

Dividing the kids’ snacks into small coolers and individual sandwich bags ensured that they had easy access to nutritious options without the hassle of sorting through a communal stash of plastic bags. This system also prevented any potential conflicts over snack distribution, allowing for a smoother and more peaceful journey.

Meanwhile, my indulgent treats, like chocolate and Skittles, were kept separate in a shoebox, away from the healthier options. This separation helped me satisfy my cravings without tempting the kids with sugary snacks before mealtime.

I also made certain to put the DVDs within arm’s reach, and they were sorted by the order we were going to watch them. I mean, you cannot watch Land Before Time X before watching Land Before Time XI.

And yes, there are 14 Land Before Time movies. I’ve seen them all. Multiple times. And I may or may not have memorized all the songs.


2. Get some variety

Although I skipped the tradition of wrapping small dollar-store gifts for the kids on this trip, a practice I’ve embraced on previous family and road trips and adventures, I found other ways to keep them entertained. Instead of special treats, I relied on interactive games, storytelling, screen time, and even educational activities to maintain their excitement throughout the journey.

While of course the novelty and fun of unwrapping surprises along the way was missed, I discovered that engaging the children in different ways fostered creativity and kept boredom at bay. Plus, it encouraged them to appreciate the journey itself rather than relying solely on material gifts for entertainment. Using this travel journal for kids helped a lot.

If you need a list of ideas, here are some good ones that we use to fill our non-candy Easter eggs or hand out at Halloween as part of the Teal Pumpkin Project. They also work perfectly on a road trip with kids by yourself!

Alternating toys with a DVD player is a must. I don’t know what I would have done without a DVD player and many DVDs to accompany the kids enjoying it as quality time. Our favorites are Land Before Time and the Magic School Bus. We only watch these movies while we’re traveling. The kids look forward to it every time.


3. Map it out

This may seem a bit OCD to some people, but I mapped our road trip games throughout our long road trip together. I planned where we would stop to eat, where to stop for gas, and what hotels we were going to stay at, having a plan ahead helped me not feel stressed. It also allowed Phillip to have an idea of where we were going to be, as well.

Planning for our extended solo, road trip with kids this trip with older kids allowed me to avoid the disappointment of stopping at McDonald’s locations without a Play Place, a lesson learned from experiences. Additionally, selecting gas stations in safer neighborhoods with well-maintained facilities became much simpler to roadtri with kids on a pre-planned route.


4. Speaking of bathrooms

Potty stops are the worst with little kids, especially when you’re travelling by yourself with them.  You can’t leave them in the car with another adult while you quickly run in.  Instead, you’re stuck on the loo, trying to prevent little hands from grabbing the germ-infested garbage cans.

One thing that helped a lot was to put my 4 year old in a Pull-Up.  This way, each time she said she needed to use the restroom, there was no fear of an accident.  I could say, “Honey, our next stop is going to be in 45 minutes.  You can wait until then, or you can use your Pull-up.”

Note: it was HER idea to wear a Pull-up in the first places.  Not mine.  I would never force her into that in a shameful way.  This gave her the confidence that she could hold it, but an accident wouldn’t be the end of the world.

She actually never used the Pull-up once on our road trip with the kids by myself – she was able to hold it for each scheduled stop.


5. Get a reaching stick

I kid you not, I wish I would have had a reaching stick. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to pull my car over along the freeway because my two-year-old had dropped his blanky or stuffie and it was just out of my grasp (while safely driving of course). In hindsight, having a reaching stick would have been incredibly handy, saving both time and stress during those frequent roadside stops.

Short of a reaching stick, try this great idea of attaching favorite toys and snacks to the armrest or car seat with a small bungee cord or similar tie. It’s a game-changer on a road trip with kids by yourself! This simple solution not only keeps essential items within reach but also minimizes distractions, allowing for a smoother and more enjoyable journey for both parent and child.

6. Sleep well

Aside from bathroom breaks and rest stops, one of the most difficult things was checking into hotels. Usually, one of us stays in the car with sleeping kids while the other one checks into the hotel. Then one of us takes the kids in while the other unloads what we need.

Since I was doing this solo, I tried to stop driving soon enough that the kids weren’t already sound asleep in their car seats. I also needed to make sure that got plenty of hours of good sleep at night since there was no one to take turns driving with. (I also brought along an energy drink, just in case.)

The biggest help for checking into hotels on the whole family on road trips was that I packed a small carry-on suitcase with all of our clothes, PJs, toiletries, etc. that we would need for the hotel stays. We stayed two nights in hotels best road trip this trip (driving over three days, since we stopped for some sightseeing along the way). Having everything I required in one small suitcase made getting in and out of hotels go much more smoothly.

(I also had a separate, large suitcase that we used for the three weeks at my parents’ house.)

Since travel days we stayed overnight at hotels early enough before bedtime, I was able to bring food to make some of these hotel microwave meals to help save money on our trip.


7. Stretch your legs on your road trip with kids by yourself

One thing that made this trip with little kids and other little ones entertained a success was finding fun things to do along the way. Incorporating games like the alphabet game and tic-tac-toe kept everyone engaged and helped pass the time with laughter and friendly competition.

This is part of how mapping out the best family road trip together ever was so much fun and helpful. It was little things, like making sure the hotel had a swimming pool so we could swim for 45 minutes before we left. Or buy a small treat at each gas station that the kids loved and got to pick out for themselves.

The biggest thing was that we made sure we weren’t just driving straight through 24/7. Even choosing to visit a McDonald’s that had a Play Place (because not all of them do!) as the next rest stop as part of our trip was good.


8. Get comfortable on a road trip with kids by yourself

Spending extended hours in the driver’s seat during long road trips means enduring the same static position for what seems like an eternity. Consequently, the toll on your body can rival that of completing a marathon, leaving you feeling achy and fatigued. To combat this inevitable discomfort during the journey, it’s prudent to pack essentials like ibuprofen and perhaps some additional migraine medication, ensuring you’re prepared to alleviate any unexpected pains that may arise along the way.

Moreover, I discovered the immense value of bringing along an extra back pillow to provide much-needed lumbar support during my solo journey with the kids. This simple addition significantly enhanced my comfort and overall well-being throughout the trip, serving as a testament to the importance of thoughtful preparation.

Furthermore, opting for loose, comfortable clothing is paramount for a journey of this nature. Not only does it facilitate unrestricted movement, but it also promotes relaxation, allowing you to navigate the miles ahead with ease and comfort.


9. Have fun!

Probably the most significant strategy to preserve your sanity amidst the chaos of a road trip with young children is infusing the journey with enjoyment. Transforming the expedition into an exciting adventure for the kids, perhaps by incorporating roadside attractions along the way, not only alters their perspective but also accelerates the passage of time.

When children perceive the trip as a thrilling escapade, their demeanor tends to be more positive, easing the strain on both parents and family members and guardians. Indeed, few experiences rival the sluggish pace of a vehicle teeming with tearful youngsters. Thus, by fostering an atmosphere of excitement and amusement, parents can mitigate potential meltdowns and foster a more harmonious family vacation and travel experience for everyone involved.

What other favorite road trip tips or ideas travel tips do you have to give road trip tips to help families stay sane on a road trip with young children?

An earlier version of this post was written by Tiffany on The Crazy Shopping Cart

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