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Jul 4

Kids and Car Trips: Rules of the Road

road trip with kidsThe ants going marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah!
The ants going marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one, the little one stops to suck his thumb.
And they all going marching down…

Whenever I hear that song I am immediately transported to the backseat of my parent’s car and one of our driving holidays. Gosh, I have a lot of good memories of those trips—and strangely, the time in the car is clearer in my mind than some of our destinations:

Falling asleep on my sister’s shoulder (and her pushing me off!); writing in the new notebook that we got for each trip as a travel journal; homemade sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and a little note inside with the initials of the family member it was intended for; the joke that someone was busy sightseeing (i.e. eyes closed, mouth open, fast asleep); and always the same thing said in unison as we drove into our driveway on our return—it was nice to go but it is nice to come home!

To ensure you and your kids have equally great memories of holidays on the road, we have come up with the four Ps: Planning, Packing, Pacing and Playing.


What do they say? Planning should be 80% to the 20% of doing. And that is true here too. Plan not only the route but all that follows well in advance. When it comes to directions, you likely have GPS to guide you. However, why not get the old atlas out and plan the trip with the kids? Then they can take it in the car and follow your progress.

If you are going on a long trip, you might consider driving through the night (only if you have enough drivers to make it safe) or plan deliberately to take advantage of nap times. Pack some small pillows and blankets, to make the kids more comfortable.


In addition to the main luggage in the trunk or back of the car, pack a backpack for each kid. Include some “clothing layers” in case there are temperature changes or juice accidents on the journey. Books, games, and snacks should be included too. And why not hit the dollar store and include some fun surprises for the kids to find along the way? You likely want to keep some in your own bag as an easy way to diffuse any backseat tensions.


Try to balance your desire to get to your destination with interest in the journey. Get your kids to pick out some places they would like to visit along the way. If you see something—like a great public park or place to take a swim—pull over. You will want to provide ways for the kids to release some of their energy.

If you plan to stop and spend the night at a motel along the way, pack small overnight bags with the essentials so you do not have to do a full unpack and repack.


And no car trip is complete without the games and fun. The classics (license plate game anyone?) are good but there are lots more options out there. Look online for new versions of games to play together. And for some good songs to sing together. You will quickly remember that there are a lot of those ants marching one by one and will welcome some variety.  You don’t always have to play together—DVD players and portable games are great for making the time pass quickly; just be careful that “screens” are not the only things your kids see whilst in the car.

Happy travels! And remember – it is nice to go but it is nice to come home!

Whether you need help whilst you are away (pet sitter anyone?!) or when you get home (summer babysitters maybe?), you have reached your destination. is a Canadian portal designed to help you find local caregivers in your area, easily and quickly. The caregiver who is right for your family is only a click away.