7 Things to Pack for a Road Trip with Little Kids

This post is in collaboration with Nestlé Pure Life. I can only imagine how much water I’ll be going through when we live in the desert again. 

Next weekend, we’re leaving North Carolina and heading out to our new home in


We’ve gone around and around on how to make the trip but we finally decided to drive out there with both of our cars.


the summer road trip of my dreams right there . . .

We originally were going to drive a moving truck, but decided to go with a moving company instead, so at least we’ll be able to switch back and forth who drives with the children, so that we can sometimes listen to things that aren’t the Doc McStuffins audio track.

I am not a mega over-thinker when it comes to traveling with children. I don’t spend

weeks beforehand planning out activities. Mainly I pack things up the night before

and assume everyone will do okay. We did a fair amount of road-tripping when I

was younger and I don’t remember my mom packing crazy amounts of activities for


A few new things and I feel like everyone will be just fine.

Here’s what I’ll be


  1. Audiobooks. It is pretty thrilling to me that we’re finally at a stage where we

    can listen together. I’d like to do a Beverly Cleary book or two. (If you’re looking for suggestions, here are some of the audiobooks Ella has most enjoyed). 

  2. Highlights Magazine. I loved these as a child and Ella discovered them this

    year at the doctor’s office and now checks them out every week when we go

    to the library. One of these can keep her busy for hours, so I’m picking up a

    few of them her (plus a coloring book for Ani).

  3. Colored Pencils. We’ve learned the hard way that crayons in the car during

    the summer are a very bad idea and inevitably markers get all over the place.

    Colored pencils are the best bet.

  4. Mini Water Bottles. My girls love having their own water bottles and I like

    that they don’t get dehydrated in a warm car but it is easy to spill them (Ani,

    in particular, has a hard time not dumping the whole thing out on her lap) so

    I love the Nestlé Pure Life mini bottles that fit in their cup holders and also

    don’t give them so much water that they need to go to the bathroom every 20


  5. Healthy finger foods. I hate that sick feeling after a road trip where you’ve

    eaten way too much junk food and since Ella especially is prone to slight

    carsickness, we try to have pretty healthy snacks. Blueberries, dates, and

    cherry tomatoes are big favorites, as are cheddar cheese chunks and trail


  6. Plenty of new episodes and apps on the iPad and iPhone. I keep a very

    tight rein on my girls’ screen time at home. They watch maybe one 30 minute

    show a week and a few occasional minutes of playing on my phone. But on a

    road trip? It’s a free for all! (A few of our favorite apps here).

  7. Music CDs. The girls love to sing and I have a very high tolerance for kids’

    music, so I like to have a few to pop in so we can all sing along. 

Anything else I should think about packing to make our four days of driving more


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  • Reply Paige Flamm June 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I remember loving Highlights when I was a kid! We're driving to Florida for the fourth, so I'll have to grab one for Kyle and see if he likes them! I can't believe you guys are leaving NC already! Good luck on your drive and best wishes for Phoenix!

  • Reply Jennifer Lee June 18, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I'd love to hear what music CDs you love. I think you have some great options here. I like to pack (in addition to the things you listed) a few small transformer toys. My boys, obviously, love these, but Lily also like small toys she can manipulate while listening to audiobooks. We like wacky tracks and the tangle toy. I hope you have a great trip!

  • Reply JoLee June 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    If you don't already have some music by The Laurie Berkner Band, I can't praise them enough. My kids love them, I have listened to their songs hundreds and hundreds of times, and I am still not sick of them. You can't go wrong with a collection like The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band, but I also love the Laurie Berkner Lullabies, Rocket Ship Run, and Party Day. Good luck on the drive!

  • Reply Jessica June 18, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Wiki Stix and $1 gel window clings from the Target Dollar section are among my road trip faves too. They can make art on the windows for hours. I'm a huge fan of Crayola Color Wonder for cars and planes as well.

  • Reply Michelle June 18, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I have kind of this free for all method too when we travel. Like most days my kids don't get any time with their iPads (maybe once a week), not too much TV time, we try to do lots of reading and playing and play dates. But when we travel? They get lots of snacks, books, iPads, music even, I just don't care. If it keeps them from screaming, they can have it, haha!

  • Reply CoolGreenDays June 20, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Safe and happy travels with your lovely family. Would love pics of the new house – and have you told us why Arizona? I must have missed it somewhere!? Take care

  • Reply Liz Campagiorni June 20, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    This post is perfectly timed for my road trip next week and I can't wait to use these tips. Also because of your blog I have recently introduced my 4 year old to audiobooks and I can believe I waited so long. I know having audiobooks on this trip will definitely cut down on the iPad time this trip.

  • Reply Annie August 6, 2015 at 4:57 am

    My kids love listening to the Scripture Scout CD's. Fun to listen to while they are learning scripture stories at the same time. The darn songs get stuck in my head too!! They have Book of Mormon, Old Testament & New Testament.

    • Reply Janssen August 6, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      We love Scripture Scouts!

  • Reply Amber Clark January 16, 2016 at 7:08 am

    My kids love music and sleeping during a long road trip. Half of the journey is all about sleeping for them.

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