Driving holidays with kids: Our top tips for a seamless family road trip

Planning a family road trip holiday across the US? Check out our tips to ensure grown-ups are relaxed and children stay entertained throughout your adventure.

Driving holidays with kids: Our top tips for a seamless family road trip

By Katy
18 May 2018

A road trip with those closest to you is a chance to forge memories that last for a lifetime. If you're planning a family driving holiday in the USA, just remember that a little preparation goes a long way. You'll thank us later. Here are our top tips for a stress-free family road trip.

Packing for a family driving holiday

Want to know the real secret to a successful family trip? Keeping younger companions active and engaged throughout your travels. This means careful tactile planning from the packing process onwards. Be sure to bear the following points in mind when you're loading up the luggage.

1. Car-friendly kids entertainment is a must for a family road trip – think magnetic board games, washable markers and colouring books, handheld video games and picture books. A good way to keep children happy on a longer drive is to bring along a few surprise new toys, or give them a budget to buy one at the next stop. If your kids struggle to read or look at screens while in transit, help them while away the hours with music, a good audiobook or give them a list of sights to look out for en route.

2. Bring plenty of extra bags with you. Paper bags can double as drawing paper and saviours for emergency carsickness, while tote bags are useful for breaking up the contents of a larger suitcase into smaller, more manageable, and easier to find daily loads. Don’t forget to leave enough space in your luggage for souvenirs.

3. Wholesome food and drink. The drive-thru may be a classic American experience, but plenty of healthy snacks and water throughout the day is key to a happy car – especially if you’re planning a US road trip on a budget.

4. Portable electronic chargers. There’s nothing worse for road-trip morale than a tablet dying halfway through a movie. Most rental cars will have a single USB port for charging in the front seat, but it’s a good idea to invest in a portable or solar charger which can be attached to the car window.

Preparing a rental car for kids

When you select your Alamo Rent A Car, you’ll have a variety of sizes, models and extras to choose from. A standard SUV is generally a good choice to ensure everyone has plenty of space.

1. Booster and safety seats for babies and toddlers can be rented at your convenience. To make kids feel at home in a new car, bring along a familiar toy or pillow.

2. You can also rent a tablet to keep the kids entertained. That way, you won’t have to take up precious luggage space with your own.

3. Keep an emergency bag stocked up with plenty of wet wipes, tissues and a rubbish bag to make dealing with pit stops and on-the-go snack times a breeze.

Getting from A to B

However hard you prepare, it’s impossible to predict what mood a child will be in when they wake up. But you can limit or avoid those periods of stressful car time by keeping the following points in mind.

1. Overestimate the time you’ll need. From leaving the hotel to comfort breaks, driving may well take longer than you think when you’re travelling with kids. Simply factor this in at the start, especially when picking up or dropping off your vehicle, and you’ll take away all of the stress of the last-minute calls for the toilet.

2. Drive early or late for a peaceful stretch. If you’re comfortable driving later in the evening or earlier in the morning, this can help kids to sleep through the journey.

3. Double up a toilet break with exercise. Even just a few minutes of running, jumping and climbing can be enough to temper tempers for the next leg of the trip. An obstacle course made up of sticks, stones or chalk is a great impromptu alternative to a playground.

Making it a road trip to remember

Whether you’re going to Florida or San Francisco, there’s something truly special about driving holidays that makes families laugh years down the line. Make your road trip a journey to remember by picking up plenty of mementos and memories along the way.

1. Try leaving a chalk message in each area that you pass through.

2. Collect a stone, coin or small souvenirs at each destination to add to a road trip memory jar.

3. Don’t forget the camera!

Ready to start planning your family driving holiday?

Take a look at our USA destinations today.