Travel Destinations

Family road trips with under-fives

Traveling with kids can often feel like a daunting task. And the prospect of an extended road trip with under-fives can feel almost impossible. This doesn’t have to be the case, however, and parents who prepare properly can experience the joys of road travel with even the youngest of children. It will often take some preparation and forward thinking to make the right choices and have the best time on a family road trip. Read all of our top tips for family road trips with under-fives here.

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What a parent decides to take with them on their road trip can make a huge difference in how easy the overall trip ends up. In addition to packing for the final destination, parents will need to pack for the car ride. Ensuring that they have all the kids could need for eating, sleeping, and staying entertained on the drive.


An itinerary can be invaluable for parents. Helping road trips stay on track and the family arrive at their destination in good time.

It can also be invaluable to help parents plan timings, rest stops and other critical considerations.

Making a written itinerary can be an excellent idea. Parents should ensure they build plenty of time into the travel portion for delays from roadworks, traffic jams and pitstops along the way.

It’s good to have copies of the itinerary on their smartphones. Using Adobe Acrobat to compress their PDF itinerary, so it doesn’t use up too much valuable space on their phones helps.


Ensuring the kids are comfortable should be a parent’s number one goal. This can massively reduce the number of complaints or tantrums you might face from your under-fives.

A sunshade is one of the simplest but most important items parents should invest in to help keep their kids comfortable and happy.

This can ensure that kids can get a nap if they want to and prevent discomfort from the glare of the sun on the car’s windows.

Sunshades are particularly crucial for families traveling with babies or toddlers, who are more at risk from sunburn.

Cool Box

The last things anyone wants on a road trip are warm drinks and food.

If traveling a long distance, parents may need to bring meals along to save on costs. So having a cool box to pack up a road trip picnic can be ideal.

The easiest choices for parents on long car trips are options like sandwiches or pastries that can be easily eaten and kept cool throughout the day.

Juice and water can be the ideal beverages to keep everyone energized and hydrated.

Carluccios Picnic - Copyright:

Playlist – great tips for family road trips

Music can help set the mood for a family road trip, giving everyone something to listen to and helping them relax.

A great family activity before setting off could be to come up with some suggestions for the playlist. This way everyone enjoys the soundtrack to the road trip.

Another excellent option for keeping kids entertained could be to play an audiobook throughout the drive. This can help keep the kids entertained and distracted until the final destination.


Tablets are often a parent’s best friend on long road trips.

Parents should consider downloading a few of the kids’ favorite games, films and TV shows to a tablet. It can help keep the kids quiet for a few hours on the drive.

It may help to bring one tablet for each child, as this will prevent any arguments over whose turn it is to play.

This may not be for everyone, particularly parents trying to enforce a minimum internet or electronics policy until the kids are older.

pacca alpaca

Games for family road trips

Games are a must on any family road trip and can help keep under-fives happy and entertained throughout.

Parents can use physical games that can keep kids busy while also being educational.

Games like I-Spy or the Alphabet Game can help kids learn more about the world around them, improve their vocabulary and prevent boredom.


Toys are a must whenever traveling with kids under five. They can help them feel more comfortable throughout the journey and give them something to occupy themselves with.

Parents should consider bringing a child’s favorite or comfort toy, which can help them stay relaxed throughout the trip, staving off possible tantrums.

Puzzles or other tactile and engaging toys can also be ideal for keeping the kids busy during a road trip.

Road testing - Num Noms Series 4 - perfect companions on the move - copyright:


In addition to a picnic meal, snacks are crucial for long road trips.

It is best to avoid anything overly sugary, which could result in hyperactive kids bouncing off the car walls.

Parents should pack healthy options that will give kids plenty of energy without the risk of a sugar high.

Great options include sliced ​​fruit and veg, yogurts and nuts. These provide kids with many of the essential nutrients they need to be energized and happy throughout the holiday.


When traveling, it can be easy to leave the regular routine behind.

While this is understandable, it can make traveling with under-fives much more challenging. Kids need a routine to feel safe and secure.

Anything that drastically changes a child’s routine can result in anxiety. Finding ways to maintain their routine while traveling with kids is vital. It can make all the difference to everyone’s enjoyment of the holiday.

An excellent way for parents to keep a routine consistent could be by leaving the house at the same time they usually would for school or nursery.

Meal and snack times should also remain the same. It is best to avoid a mad panic to get everything in the car the morning of a trip. Try to get everything ready the night before so the kids can do their regular morning routine.

Stops on family road trips

Regular stops are a must for parents traveling with kids, vital for comfort and safety.

Kids have a harder time holding on for the loo than adults. The last thing parents want is an accident before they’ve even arrived at their holiday destination.

Parents should build plenty of rest stops into their itinerary, at least one per three hours of travel.

If there are two adults whichever one isn’t driving should monitor how much the kids are eating and drinking to assess when next to have a pit stop.

Regular stops can also be invaluable for parents. Giving them chance to get a cup of coffee and stretch their legs before continuing on the road trip.

Avebury Stone Circle - Exploring The Great Stones Way by car, UK

Baby Wipes

Kids under five can almost always find their way to making a mess, whether on road trips or in everyday life.

Stopping every time a child has sticky fingers is impractical, so parents should prepare by bringing some baby wipes with them.

This can help keep the kids clean and happy on the journey until they reach a place with hand washing facilities.

Baby wipes can also be a great way for kids and adults to avoid germs and dirt on stops along the way. Especially in areas like public bathrooms.

Seat Covers – Family road trips tips

Having kids in the car can be messy at the best of times, and even more so on a long road trip.

Parents should consider investing in machine washable seat covers that can make the car clean-up after a road trip simple and easy.

It can also massively reduce parents’ stress levels on the journey. Knowing that the car seats are protected from whatever messes the kids get up to when they’re not looking.

Some great Family road trips to take with kids

We have taken some great family road trips. Some of our favorites are:

A road trip through Spain and Portugal

An Algarve road trip

A family road trip through Florida and Georgia

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