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How to pack a road trip survival kit for kids

Updated on March 17, 2015

With gas prices dropping just as the school breaks approach, the family road trip vacation sounds more appealing. Unfortunately, there's no way to eliminate cranky children fighting and and repeatedly asking, "Are we there yet?" from the back seat.

However, providing each child with road trip survival kit filled with things to occupy them can reduce the back seat drama.

First, get a plastic case to hold all the items. The case should have a smooth top so it doubles as a desk. A great case for this purpose can be found at The Container Store for $7.99.

A main item parents will want to place in the case is an activity book. Activity books can be found at craft stores, and stores like Target even sell small activity kits.

Parents can make their own kits at home by searching for and downloading free printable coloring and activity pages on the Internet. National Geographic Kids has many animal pages to download.

Road trips are easier on kids when they have a survival kit like this.
Road trips are easier on kids when they have a survival kit like this. | Source

Other items parents can choose to pack include:

  • A US map coloring page to be used for the license plate game. For the game, children color in states as they see the plates while travelling.
  • Crayons, colored pencils or washable markers.
  • Lanyard or embroidery thread to make friendship bracelets.
  • Mad Libs books.
  • A favorite book (do not bring a library book- it could get colored on with no direct supervision and it could get left behind in a hotel room.)
  • Lined paper or a school notebook with unused pages for writing a story, letter to friends or journal about the trip.

Parents may want to refrain from packing glue, paint and stickers because those items are likely to end up all over the back seat and children, adding extra clean-up and stress to the trip.

Other tips for surviving road trips:

  • Do not put food in the kit, but do bring snacks and drinks and store them where they can be accessed while driving. This way, if kids get hungry when stopping is not option, there is something available, but the kids aren't eating all their snacks as soon as you get in the car.
  • If the kids are bringing electronic devices, bring extra batteries. If the devices are just rechargeable, bring a car adapter or even a short extension cord with additional slots for charging multiple devices.
  • Encourage the kids to run along the path at rest areas to get exercise and to get some of the restlessness out of them. You could even bring a jump rope to get some quick exercise in at a rest area. If the rest area is packed, do jumping jacks in the grass.
  • When stopping at fast food restaurants, let the kids play on the playground while you eat. Then, let them eat when you get back in the car. The kids want to play on the playground anyway, and this method lets you get back on the road faster.
  • If traveling with small children, have an extra pair of clothes and underwear accessible for accidents. Disposable changing pads can be placed over wet seats. (Seats can be road-cleaned with baby wipes, then sprayed with Febreeze.)
  • Keep baby wipes with you even if you don't have a baby. Those wipes can clean everything from hands to spills.


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    • Samantha Sinclair profile image

      Samantha Sinclair 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Some little ones are much easier to please than others...

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions. When my son was young and we would take a road trip, all he needed was a book by Terry Pratchett and his video games. Little kids, I suspect, are much more difficult.