Traveling with young kids requires a lot of preparation and planning. This year, we are trying to take 22 adventures in 2022 and many will be on the road. After all the traveling we’ve done and all the road trips we’ve taken, you’d think I have all the answers, right? WRONG! I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I have learned some pretty amazing tips and tricks along the way to feel better prepared. I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite and most helpful hacks when traveling with your kids. Follow along on one of our own road trips, as we share our genius road trip hacks for kids.

Road Trip Hacks 

I come across so many great little hacks every time we travel. Some I’ve found through research, but most of them have just fallen into my lap. These road trip hacks are so simple and easy to put together, and they will make the journey so much more enjoyable for everyone! 

Laminated Map

 I love this one because it takes the guesswork out for the kids. They get to see where you are at and how much more of a drive you have. You simply print out a map showing your starting location and destination.  If you don’t have access to a laminator or contact paper, you could very easily just tape over top of it.

To break up the trip and make it easier for our kids to follow along, you could even include a special mark, number or letter, at each scheduled stop or large landmark. The kids can then use a dry erase marker to trace the trail of where you have been. Even cross out your stops and landmarks when you get to them. 

Snackle Box 

 I’m hungry, can I have a snack… We’ve all heard this one during a road trip. Many, many times! This useful snack hack helps eliminate this statement altogether, and it only requires one item besides your snacks. 

And with this “snackle box” you can totally customize what you put inside for each child. If you love this idea. I have a full post with more details about it. Check it out here, I know you’ll love it. 

Snack Box for Travel

DIY Road Trip Map

 Are we there yet? The never ending question. This DIY road map is as DIY and kid friendly as it gets. With just a few required items and a little imagination you will have a map that breaks down each stop and your final destination for every kid to be able to see from anywhere in the car. 

Come see the full post on this genius hack. I break down what you’ll need and exactly how easy it was to put together. 

DIY road map for long car trips

DIY Magnetic Puzzle 

Puzzles are the best way to pass the time, for kids of all ages! But when there are bumps and loose little fingers, pieces get lost. What would you say if I told you that I have the best hack for making sure these pieces don’t get lost? Super simple and can be reused many times over. 

I’ve written a full post about this hack. It shows you all required supplies, and gives you step by step instructions. Check it out where I teach you how to make a magnetic puzzle. 

Car Travel Pulley System 

When you travel with kids, you often have one all the way in the back of the car. It can be so hard on them when they need something, and such a burden to get things back to them. With this genius pulley system, everyone’s happy!

Here’s the steps:

  1. Take an old plastic gallon milk jug or a juice bottle with a handle and cut off the top above the handle.
  2. Now get some kite string and cut a piece twice as long as the length of the interior of your car.
  3. Feed one end of the string through the handle of the jug.
  4. Now send the string through the car handle by the front passenger.
  5. Next, send the string to the other end of the the car and through the handle above the 3rd row passenger.
  6. Bring the string all the way back to the front of the car forming a loop.
  7. Lastly, bring the two ends of the string together and tie them off so that the loop is tight.
  8. Pull one in of the string and watch the magic happen!

Now when you’re asked for a snack or toy, you simply put it in the container and pull the string. The pulley system then brings the container to the back row, all without breaking your back or having to stop. Genius! (at least I thought so)

Mechanical Arm Grabber Hack 

We use the pulley system for sharing stuff from the front of the car to the back, but what if that isn’t an option to put together? This mechanical arm grabber is another great option. I’m sure you all have seen one of these grabbers before.You can purchase them at just about every toy store and they’re usually less than $10. All you need to do is grab something with it, reach back and hand it to your child, it’s as simple as that. No more twisting and turning awkwardly and paying for it later. 

Easy Trash Can Hack 

The worst part of the road trip is cleaning up after snack time or after each stop. Wrappers everywhere, crumbs everywhere, and unfinished food in hidden places… Yuck! I have the best idea to stop that from happening, and make the post road trip recovery much easier. This trash can hack is super easy and it only requires two elements. A plastic cereal container and a plastic grocery bag or small garbage bag.

Simply put the plastic bag inside the cereal container, then add the lid. There is a small hole at the top so your kiddo can put their garbage in and close it, so it doesn’t spill out. It is also such a small container and it takes up very little space, so it can be passed around or removed easily. 

Every Hour Surprise Bags

This is one of the best things I did on the trip to pass the time, and it got my girls so excited about the long trip. These super simple and super easy surprise bags are customizable for each child, so there’s less fighting.

What do you need to create surprise bags?

  • A Paper bag
  • Super secret surprise items to stuff inside
  • A marker, pen or pencil to write on the bag
  • Timer or Alarm
  • Lots of good ideas

Here’s a video of our entire road trip so you can see how the surprise bags work.

@mrsblinks Our 9 hours road trip with all of my Pinterest mom hacks. #pinterestmomtiktok #roadtrip #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner #pinterestmom ♬ original sound – Mrsblinks

What can you put inside these bags?

This is why I LOVE these bags. You can put anything inside them.

Here are a few examples of what I put in my girls’:

  • Activity book. Can be learning or for fun. Something new to keep their attention for a bit. 
  • Cute pens with sayings on them. I instantly regretted this one when they wrote all over themselves. 
  • The magnetic puzzle. see the above listed hack for this one or see the full blog post about how to put this together. 
  • A new movie. We let the girls watch a movie they hadn’t seen before to pass some more time. 
  • Fun snack. This gets the kids excited. Pick something they haven’t had before or maybe just a surprise.
  • Color by numbers. This kills a lot of time and they end up with a pretty picture too. 
  • Cute new toy. Kids love getting a new little toy. Doesn’t have to be expensive, keep it simple.

Other fun bag fillers:

  • Sticker books. Let’s hope that most of these don’t end up on the car. They even make sticker puzzle books now. 
  • A new book. My girls love to read. A new book will keep them interested and entertained for hours. 
  • Card games. A card version of eye spy, or bingo. You can also play the classics and use the grabber to deal.
  • Fidget toys. These are a huge hit in my house. They keep little hands busy and little minds working. 
  • Crafting supplies. Let them create things with beads, string, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, etc.


Road Trip Essentials 

The hacks didn’t come to me as easily as my list of road trip essentials. It was sometimes a struggle to figure out how to solve the problems we were having while traveling, which spawned the hacks. Unfortunately, some of them were learned by doing things the hard way. I have some of the best items that I think are essential for any road trips with your kids. Follow along for that post to see those items.

Why go through all the trouble for a road trip?

Have you ever heard the expression, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Well I felt the same way. So why not take something that could ordinarily be boring and dull, like the trip to your vacation and make it fun. Creating something that my girls will enjoy and look forward to, not dread and protest. I know that we only have so many vacations before they get older and no longer want to be just us. While they are along for the ride, I’m going to make the most out of every opportunity and make the ride as fun and memorable as I can.


Did you choose to go on a road trip because of this post? Use any of these tips and tricks?

If so, then please share them on Instagram or Tiktok and tag me. I really love seeing how we can help make your family travel easier and more enjoyable…and maybe you have some good ones to share with us too!!

If you found this article helpful, check out my other travel posts here:

The Best Car Seat Alternatives

5 Best Travel Backpacks

10 Reasons to go to an all-inclusive resort

What to do when your kids get sick on vacation