How to Road Trip with Kids in Tow

RelayRides blogger Amanda L. Grossman shares affordable options for making your next road trip with the kids a memorable one (in a good way).

Have you decided that instead of watching National Lampoon’s Vacation for the umpteenth time, it’s time to actually take your own family on a road trip adventure?

If you’ve got the kiddos in tow, then you know there is some extra planning that needs to be done to make your road trip memorable and as smooth as possible. Whether you’re going to a single attraction like Wally World, visiting family, or just taking in the landscape, you’ll want to keep the following tips in mind.

Use a Vehicle with Lots of Trunk Space

Travelling with just one or two people is completely different from travelling with kids (as you well know). You’ll want a vehicle with lots of trunk space so that you can bring things from home and save money. If your car does not have this, then your best bet is to rent one.

What sorts of things will save you money on the road but will take up extra space? For starters, keep an ice chest in the back that you can load up with snacks and the first meal on your road trip. Instead of eating at restaurants and fast food joints the whole way, stop off at a grocery store and get creative. Another money saver that will take up some space is camping gear. Instead of staying at a hotel each night, pencil in a campground site or two and pack your tent and sleeping bags.

Keep Safety Top of Mind

You’ll want to browse this list of the safest vehicles in America so that you will know which ones to choose if you are renting a vehicle for your journey. If you rent a vehicle through RelayRides, they’ve got you covered with 24/7 Nationwide Roadside Assistance accompanying each rental.

Using your own vehicle? Having a AAA membership is helpful in case you get stranded hundreds of miles from home. If you will be taking your own vehicle, also make sure it is up to date on maintenance and has no recalls. You can search for manufacturer recommendations and recalls on any vehicle on this site.

Finally, be sure to pack a first aid kit to take in whatever vehicle you choose.

Schedule in Lots of Stops with Free Attractions

Keeping kids in a small, enclosed space for hours results in a buildup of lots of energy (especially if they take a nap or two!). And let’s face it, you need to stretch your legs as well. So why not schedule in several free pit stops along the way?

You can use to scope out free attractions to see off the side of roads, like a giant chicken statue inside of a car or the world’s largest ball of twine (yes, it exists). Also, factory tours are educational and generally free. Check out these 7 free pit stops to see if any are in the area where you will be travelling.

Arm Yourself with Lots of Free Car Games

Yes, your kids can listen to iPods, watch DVDs, and play video games in between pit stops. But wouldn’t you also like to engage them in some precious quality time? offers an array of free car games to keep you and the little ones completely busy. Some of my favorites include Mad Libs and mixed CDs of sing-along songs. Take the time to browse the printables, and to make some activity bags you can hand over to your kids if they start getting fussy and you need a break.

Taking the time to use the tips above will set you up for a memorable road trip your kids will be talking