Posted on April 30, 2017

5 Things to Pack When Road Tripping with Kids

5 Things to Pack When Road Tripping with Kids

This post is sponsored by Netflix.  All opinions are 100% our own.

We road trip.

A lot.

There are many reasons that we like to hit the open highway in our 4-wheel drive sleigh! We love exploring new places and enjoy the cost effective travel option that comes with car travel versus airfare for a party of 4 (plus a rental car once we land). I’m not a fan of airplanes in general, but I will get on one when necessary. I like the flexibility that comes with driving and being able to stop when and where I want to. I do really believe that getting there is half the fun, as long as the getting there is well-planned.

When we take our camper on road trips, we save even more money on travel expenses as campgrounds are an incredibly frugal way to spend a night out of town.

No matter how you decide to drive to that ultimate end destination, there are many road trip hacks that can help make the trip go a little smoother and less stressful.

We have logged more than 20,000 miles while road tripping with our kiddos over the last 8 years. All of this travel time has gotten our packing down to a science (I could probably pack our bags in my sleep).

Check out these 5 things to pack when road tripping with kids (we never leave home without them):

Snacks – Pick up a small cooler to sit on the backseat or on the floor under the kids’ feet. Pack drinks and snacks in your cooler for easy and quick snack options. Many hotels offer free ice, so make sure you top off the cooler each morning before you hit the road.

Boredom Busters – Small crafts, coloring supplies, stickers, pipe cleaners and more can occupy kids for quite awhile. Now that Lily is old enough to read and write, I always pack a trip journal for her to record her trip memories. Check out my post on Road Trip Activities for more ideas.

Ziplock Bags – Toss a couple boxes of plastic bags into your car before you leave home. I usually take at least sandwich size and gallon size bags. These wonderful waterproof bags can serve multiple purposes. Portion out some snacks for the kids, have an emergency barf bag, even great as a wet bag for drink-soaked-clothing. So many possibilities for one plastic bag!

Tablet for playing kid-friendly apps or watching videos – Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all about limiting screen time for the kiddies and at home the kids have chores they need to do to earn screen time. But when we are in the car on an epic road trip, logging 8-10 hours (and hundreds of miles) every day, the kids can use tablets. I find that they tend to bounce back and forth between tablets and other activities. They are just as happy to play with stickers and markers as they are to watch a movie.

Netflix – This one takes a little big of pre-planning but it is 500% worth it. Now, if you have an unlimited data plan and also have access to WiFi in the car (via tether or wireless card), your kids can stream Netflix right to their tablets as you drive.

Even if you DO have the unlimited data AND WiFi access, keep in mind, your ability to stream depends on that WiFi connection. When you travel to more remote destinations that typically have poor cell phone reception, you may lose your ability to stream altogether.

Luckily for us road trippers, Netflix now offers the option to DOWNLOAD much of its streaming content right onto a phone or tablet!  What does this mean?  Before you leave home (or while you still have WiFi access) you can download movies and shows to watch OFFLINE – no internet service required!!!  Once you download a show or movie you have 48 hours to several days (varies by movie or show) to enjoy watching it.  This timer does NOT begin until you push play for the first time.

We recently spent the weekend at a campground and before we left, I loaded each kid’s tablet with several hours of their favorite shows and movies right from Netflix.

Here’s how I did it:

I opened up Netflix on the tablet.

Netflix Kid Account

I clicked on the menu and chose “Available for Download” to be taken right to the content available for offline viewing.

Netflix Kid Menu

Netflix Kids Available Download

I chose several movies and shows and downloaded them on the tablet.  Just look for the download button and your tablet does the rest.

Netflix Download Button

You can pull up a menu of downloaded content for easy access.

Netflix Downloaded Content

That’s it!  So easy!  In less than ten minutes, I had probably 4 or 5 hours worth of video content loaded onto Landon’s tablet and ready for our trip.  The content was downloaded right to his tablet and it didn’t matter if we had WiFi or not during our long drive.  He was still able to watch those shows and movies as we traveled.  (I guess I should also recommend picking up some headphones for the kids… unless hours of Barney and Bob the Builder sound awesome to you.)

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What to Pack When Road Tripping with Kids

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