Get Ready for a Fun and Stress-Free Road Trip with Your Little Ones!

by Bailey Bouwman

As a mom of two young kids and a frequent road tripper, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to travel with little ones. The trip from Prince George to Vancouver is one that I used to do every 4-6 weeks with two under two. Serious. But with a bit of planning and some helpful tips, you can make your next road trip a fun and stress-free adventure for the whole family!

During my travels, I discovered that there are certain strategies that work best when it comes to traveling with young children. Some of these work all the time, some of these work some of the time, and some of these just won't work for your family. The most important thing to remember is take what might work, leave what won't work. 

I know many local families love to travel in the early morning, but driving with headlights of oncoming traffic is stressful for me. I don't enjoy driving in the dark and therefore prefer a daytime trip. We all have things we can't or can do, so be mindful of that when reading suggestions about how to do something. 

I'm excited to share my top tips and advice on how to make the most of your family road trip! As a former mom blogger, oversharing everything about my life to connect with others is my must-do activity - and in this post, I'll even share my top secret tip for road tripping with toddlers. 

Step One: Pack Smart 

Packing for a road trip with kids can feel overwhelming - and it's okay. I pack the kitchen sink when I travel, so don't sweat it. One thing that has helped over the years is the reminder that if I forget something I can buy it.... that said I have had to turn around at Redrock because I forgot someones glasses, passports, and/or shoes more often than not.

Here are some simple tips to help you pack smart and keep things simple:

  • Create a checklist of essentials, including diapers, wipes, extra clothes, snacks, drinks, and any medication your child may need. If you write it down, it can help you remember. Don't loose the list, take a picture of it. 

  • Pack a small bag with your child's favorite toys, books, and activities to keep them entertained. This bag should be separate and easy to store in the vehicle under their seat - you want it to be easy to access. We can talk about specific activities later. 

  • Pack strategically in the car, keeping items you'll need during the trip within easy reach and your child's toys and activities in a separate bag. This is mostly in reference to the time I soaked my clothing in breastmilk and had to empty the entire trunk to get at my suitcase that I assumed I didn't need. Learn more about tips for traveling as a breastfeeding parent in this blog post I wrote earlier this month. 

  • Don't forget to pack a first-aid kit with essentials like band-aids and pain relief medication. Seriously - this is also a reference to the time my kid bit it hard on the pavement while we were stopping for a lunch break and desperately needed a bandaid. And the time when we stopped for a bathroom break at a n outhouse and got eaten alive by mosquitos - if it's mosquito season, you might want to ensure you have your favourite bug repellent handy. 

Step 2: Plan Your Route

One of the best ways to plan your route is to look for family-friendly attractions, parks, and rest stops that your kids will love. I like to pull up the city website of a town we'll be driving in and try to find the best playground to visit. Playgrounds don't always show up on google maps, and so taking a moment to search them on the web can be helpful. They are often hidden in neighbourhoods unless there's a big city party with signs everywhere.  

Don't be afraid to take some detours and explore new places. It can break up the monotony of a long car ride and make the trip more enjoyable for everyone - even if it's something less than exciting.

When I traveled from Prince George to Vancouver, we discovered some amazing road trip stops along the way. We found scenic parks, quirky roadside attractions, and delicious places to eat. And because the route from here to there changes with the season, we sometimes explore new places on different trips. 

This is that time we finally stopped at the Sugar Shack on the way to Vancouver after driving by it for years and my kids devoured French Fries and poutine. 

Step 3: Consider Tech Free Trips

It can be tempting to rely on screens to keep your kids entertained during long car rides. And there's definitely ages and stages where screens are fantastic tools for making a road trip happen. 

Once upon a time, I shared how ditching the tech on a road trip with my kids led to a more enjoyable experience for everyone. I found it was most helpful with managing the meltdowns that would happen when we needed to stop for bathroom breaks and food. Now, it does require a little more parent participation - so if you're travelling with someone who isn't into talking with kids, it's not the best idea. 

Here's a few ideas of games that I've played with in the car at a young age - some of these activities will take some time for your kids to learn and develop depending on their age. But it will come with time - we do play a lot of I Spy.  

  1. I Spy - This classic game is perfect for kids of all ages. One person picks an object they see and says "I spy with my little eye something that is (color or shape)," and the other players take turns guessing what it is.

  2. The Alphabet Game - Starting with the letter "A," players take turns finding something outside the car that starts with each letter of the alphabet in order

  3. Storytelling - Take turns telling a story one sentence at a time. Each person adds on to the story until you have a funny, silly, or exciting tale to share.

  4. 20 Questions - One person thinks of a person, place, or thing, and the other players take turns asking yes or no questions to try and guess what it is. The game continues until someone correctly guesses the item or until all 20 questions have been asked.

Another great way to make the trip more engaging for children is to put on a soundtrack they'll love including their favourite music bops, children's podcasts, and family friendly audio books. Here's a few podcasts we've really enjoyed with the kids

  1. Brains On! - A science podcast for kids, co-hosted by kid scientists and reporters that explores everything from the depths of the ocean to the outer reaches of space.

  2. But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids - A show that takes questions from kids and turns them into engaging, informative episodes covering a wide variety of topics.

  3. Little Stories for Tiny People - A podcast featuring original stories for young children, filled with engaging characters and exciting adventures.

  4. Molly of Denali - A podcast inspired by the popular TV show of the same name, featuring exciting stories and adventures set in Alaska.

  5. Story Pirates - This podcast features hilarious stories written by kids and performed by professional actors and comedians.


I can't stress enough the importance of taking breaks during a long car ride. This applies to families of all ages and stages - whether your baby is 9 weeks old or 7 years old. If it's all gone to shit, get out of the car and take a break to just be anywhere but in the car.

Taking breaks during a road trip is crucial for physical and mental health. Rest stops with playgrounds and fun activities allow kids to burn off energy and get exercise. Breaking up the trip with stops also keeps kids engaged and entertained, preventing restlessness and irritability.

This can be as simple as a restroom stop and run around, or as complex as a hike to Alexandra Bridge - and it's one of the reasons I find traveling in the winter really challenging because the opportunities are significantly less. That's when we rely on McDonalds, and Tim Hortons for a break. 

This is a core memory of my road trips with the two under two. They both had such personality and this little puddle stomping adventure half way through our trip was much needed by everyone and I just got to breathe for a moment. 

Make Your Next Family Road Trip a Fun and Stress-Free Adventure

Traveling with young children can be challenging, but with some planning and helpful tips, you can make your next road trip a fun and stress-free adventure for the whole family! Some of the best strategies include packing smart, planning your route, considering tech-free trips, and taking breaks. Don't forget to prioritize physical and mental health by stopping at rest stops with fun activities and playgrounds. With these tips in mind, your family can create lasting memories on your next road trip.

Don't forget to share your own tips and experiences in the comments below! We would love to hear about your favourite family road trip destinations and strategies.


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