Car travel with kids – individual travel packs

A number of times a year, we take the six plus hour car trip to Mildura to visit my family. We have been doing this ever since the kids were babies and they are all very used to the long drive now.

As the kids have grown older, the need to stop so frequently has diminished. They know it is a long drive and are keen to get there as soon as we can. We still have at least one major stop at a park where we all run around, stretch our legs and breathe fresh air, as well as toilet stops as needed.

Very rarely do we buy food or drink on the trip, preferring to take our own. Taking our own food has many benefits:

  • it is much cheaper
  • it means the kids can eat when they want, as opposed to when we reach a town
  • we can determine much easier what the kids eat

Individual food packs

Car travel with kids DSC03655
Feeding the kids well has, for us, contributed greatly to much more pleasant car trips. Packing food for the trip is pretty much the same as packing the school lunches. Each child has their own food pack and drinks. Once we start our trip, they can choose what they eat when, knowing that is all the food they have for the trip.

Lots of the food is consumed in the first hour or two. They generally save the main lunch item for when we stop at a park around the halfway mark. As Mildura is in the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Area , the kids understand that fruit needs to be eaten and any leftovers will need to be binned before we get closer to Mildura or we will have to throw it out at the designated area before the start of the pest free area. To make sure we adhere fully to this, we only bring minimal fresh fruit.

This is what is in a typical food pack:
Car travel with kids DSC03661

Individual activity packs

Car travel with kids DSC03667
We are pretty old school with entertainment with the kids. We don’t have a DVD player in the car and only the older two will have their iPods for some of the journey. One Christmas when Santa bought the kids an iPad to share, we let the youngest play on it. Within 10 minutes of playing on it, he threw up all over it!

We listen to lots of audio books. You can see some past favourites in this post here – 10 Great Children’s Audio Books For Long Car Trips, but I will do another post soon on what has been popular recently in our house.

And for the younger kids we will put together an activity pack. It is pretty simple and will include a travel puzzle, favourite toy and a clipboard with activities like the following:

  • Print out of a map. Ours needs to be two pages, so the kids can see the town names. The kids like knowing where they are and what is coming up next.
  • Hangman – the hangman tip sheet which you can print out here and some paper for playing.
  • Colouring pages like these Ninjago ones.
  • Mazes – both the 6 an 8 year olds love mazes.
  • Wordsearch – we like to make up our own, often using the town names on the route to create the word list.
  • Math sheets – both the younger two boys are still very keen on numbers and like to test themselves. These worksheets have a travel theme to them.

Then there are plenty of games of car cricket and I spy!

What do you pack for the kids on long car trips?