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Road Trippin’ It with Littles

Our family of ten aspires to travel around our beautiful country and the one way we can make that happen is by road trippin’ it! We started small by cruising around our great state and have embraced more epic journeys in our giant van.

Though our adventures are not without mishaps, we’ve learned a few things about keeping little people content. While we do allow some limited screen time, we’ve found some of the simplest ways to keep kids happy, minus the devices. They’re too easy and fun to keep them to ourselves!

Game Binders:  There are countless online game printables (Battleship, word searches, tic-tac-toe, hangman, BINGO) as well as license plate checklists and maps for keeping tabs on your route. Print out these free resources, slip them into plastic page protectors, and give each child a binder of their own. Paired with a dry erase marker and a piece of felt, you can use these again and again.

Candy Necklaces:  Our journeys are not complete without a jewelry-making contest. Prepackaged bags of shoestring licorice and anything with holes (gummy Lifesavers, cereal, pretzels) kids can design necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and crowns, and bonus: our creations double as a treat! (Thanks to a dear friend for inspiring me years ago with her family tradition!)

Aluminum Foil:  Pass out sheets of foil in various sizes and let the kids get creative! Our kids make robots, airplanes, accessories, butterflies, and swords. Some of their creations are less obnoxious than others, I’ll admit!

Pipe Cleaners:  Lightweight and cheap, pipe cleaners are begging to be bent into inventive shapes, and it’s sort of therapeutic to just twist them around your fingers.

Magnetic Shapes and Cookie Sheets:  Magnetic automobiles, animals, and princesses, paired with cookie sheets from the dollar store are great for chubby hands and story-telling.

Audio Books:  Whether through download or compact discs, audio stories are fun for the whole family! There are many classics as well as shorter children’s books to be enjoyed by big and small.

Dixie Cups: Our kids seem to want a snack every few miles. We keep a large box of crackers, trail mix, veggies, and fruit in the front seat and pass out filled Dixie cups every so often. Buying in bulk is much cheaper than individual packs and usually we can get several uses from the cups before they’re destroyed.

Ticket Tally:  We allow our kids to earn a virtual ticket (I keep a tally on my phone) for every 30 minutes we travel. I take a general count of hours we’ll be traveling overall and they get their tickets in the “bank” up front. Tickets can be cashed in for a little extra screen time, or for spending money along the way. We also remove tickets for obnoxious behavior or fighting, which does occasionally happen even though we have all of these great ideas for keeping them content. 🙂

Enjoy your summertime family adventures!!

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Picture of Molly Koop

Molly Koop

Molly is blessed to share her life with her beloved husband, Brendan, and their eight children whom she homeschools.

4 thoughts on “Road Trippin’ It with Littles”

  1. Love these ideas. We printed a bunch of coloring sheets or made copies from favorite coloring books to add to our game binder on one trip and each kid had a small pencil pack of color pencils or crayons that fit in their binder as well. I need to redo ours for the next trip!

  2. So glad to see the candy necklace tradition spread! I’m planning a big road trip in August and am looking for a local source for licorice laces right now. Last time I bought from amazon it was only available in 2 pound bags. 😕

    • I don’t have a local source, we’ve always purchased Gustaf’s brand off of Amazon. They have a 2-pound bag and then a 3-pack of the same. Embarrassingly, we bought the 3-pack for our last trip because Brendan likes it so much. He doesn’t ever make any jewelry, though. C’mon, Dad! If I see any around town, I’ll let you know. But I’m pretty sure this is why we ended up with internet licorice. 🙂


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