Road trip season is upon us and while we understand why you’re considering faking a flat tire to avoid the imminent whining from the back seat— we challenge you to put aside your fears and create lifelong memories along the ribbons of roads that cross North America. CTV Morning Live invited me on set to chat about these trip tips, and—while organizing for the segment—the nostalgia swept over me and I wanted to share some of my personal family road trip tips with you. 

Road Trip Activities for Kids

  1. An inexpensive metal cookie sheet makes the best lap table for a child during car trips. It can be a food tray or a writing desk (the raised edges keep crayons from rolling off). It can be a clipboard with the addition of a clip-style fridge magnet. It’s an instant play table for all sorts of magnetic toys. Baking Tray Lap Table
  2. Hit up the dollar store before you leave and wrap each gift individually.  Write the time on the bags and give them a real clock so they can learn a non-digital format. Every hour, the kids get a new “gift.”  If they misbehave, push it back 15 minutes. *Bwa ha ha*Road Trip Hourly Gifts
  3. Assign each child a job that will help them develop life skills. One can be a navigator with a real map, magnifying glass and ruler. Another can be a banker in charge of an envelope filled with cash. A notebook, calculator and pencil will help them calculate expenses and if there is enough in the kitty for the roadside chocolate bars the family may be begging for.Road Trip Activities
  4. Encourage your kids to organize their backpacks with closable fabric or zip-top storage bags. They make great art bags—just toss in a small pad of paper, crayons, pens, and markers. Use a separate bag for each toy with lots of small parts: HotWheels, Legos, Magnetix. Tuck in a few empty bags for cool rocks, pretty feathers, and other treasures picked up on expeditions.
  5. Create a road trip playlist that you and the kids will love. Make sure portable chargers are ready to go.
  6. We have a headlamp for each child so that they can read at night without having to hold a flashlight.

Road Trip Car Clean-up Kit

You may try to get the kids not to eat or drink in the car but on road trips that rule is usually broken! By the way you can check out our recos on no-mess car snacks here.Craft Box Snack Box

  1. Grab dusters to wipe the country dirt that ends up all over the dash and door frames.
  2. Putting a lot of humans together in a small space for extended periods of time mean that things can get a bit stuffy, so pack the some natural deodorizer spray. In dire emergencies (I have a motion-sickness-prone kid) I keep a bottle of water, small jar of Dawn and an old (disposable) towel for cleaning the seat and then a BIG bottle of lavender-scented water to freshen the car afterwards. Oh—and a blowup beach ball to entertain the kids as I fix the mess.
  3. Stains from upturned drinks can be reversed with a Tide Pen and Puffs Tissues are versatile face cleaners and nose wipers.
  4. I usually tuck Bounce Dryer Sheets in the seat pockets in order to freshen the whole car (and it keeps away mozzies if you’re stopped outdoors.)
  5. I’ve always love the Dyson Animal Cordless Vacuum for the car, and Dyson has actually just made it even more powerful. The cordless Dyson V8 comes with long hoses so it’s great as a main house vacuum as well as the car.Dyson V8
  6. A garbage can with a locking lid for each row of seats keeps things tidy (if they kids remember to use it).

The Road Trip Emergency Bag

Well, I call it an ’emergency’ bag, but the only vital part is your first aid kit, blanket and flares. That said, the number of times I’ve lost an earring or needed a towel for an impromptu swim far exceeds the times my engine has failed and I was in a snowy place with no cell phone reception or food…. So here are the little extras I always pack. ; )

Toiletries: Dry shampoo for days/weeks where a good shower isn’t an option!
Accessories: Earrings and red lipstic (you never know where you could end up and looking like a rock star is always a plus!), umbrella
Sunscreen: While most windshields block sunburn-causing UVB rays, they don’t block UVA rays, which cause aging and melanoma.
Water Play: Swimsuits and a space-saving sarong to use as a towel or throw on the seats.

However you choose to roam, we hope that your summer is chock full of family memories with your little explorers! These are my family road trip tips, but I’d love to read yours in the comments!

Family Road Trips

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Road Trip Tips