Families of all sizes can’t go wrong by packing creative travel kits for kids. Whether your focus is on filling tummies, entertaining or pulling off the perfect surprise, these tips can help you have the best family vacation yet!
Snack Packs for the Road
No long road trip or airplane ride is complete without snacks. It’s essential to ensure the whole family has the energy needed for a long day of travel. Too often vacation snacks are chosen for their convenience, resulting in foods that have less nutritional value, offer less variety and provide less satisfaction. For road trip snacks that make every traveling tummy smile, try one of our suggestions for fun snack packs.
A popular option for lunchboxes and snacking for healthy kids is bento snacks. Inspired by the traditional Japanese box with compartments for various food items, bento boxes are perfect for providing variety and organization. You can purchase plastic bento lunchboxes, but it’s just as easy to find plastic storage containers with divided sections at your local grocery store.
For healthier boxes, pack the most nutritional items in the larger container sections, and place special treats in the smaller sections. Here are a few ideas for yummy bento snack boxes your kids will love. Most bento boxes should be packed in your car cooler to keep them fresh.
• PB & Fruity – In the large section of the container, add slices of your child’s favorite fruit, such as sliced apples. In the smaller section, place 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, almond butter or similar. In the third section, add grapes or pretzels.
• Please & Crackers – In the large section of the container, place a variety of reduced fat or whole-wheat crackers. In the smaller sections, place your child’s favorite sliced cheese and lunch meat. Think of this as a make-at-home lunchable box.
• Beachy Keen – This seaside-themed box is fun for travelers heading toward a beach destination. In the smaller sections, place goldfish crackers and Swedish fish. In the larger section, include graham crackers for sand and blueberries for ocean water.
For a different type of snack-time fun, select a variety of healthy snacks your kids enjoy and place them in a brown paper lunch bag. Pack one lunch bag for each member of the family. When it’s snack time, have the kids close their eyes and pull out a snack surprise!
Avoid Boredom with Activities
Classic car games like counting license plates and new technologies like portable tablets are fine for entertaining your kids on long car rides, but it’s only so long before you tire of counting and the battery is dying. We recommend making a road trip activity kit for each of your young travelers to keep them entertained as long as possible.
It’s easier than you think to put together your own road trip activity book. The best way to keep your kids interested is to theme your activities around the trip you’re taking. Whether you’re visiting a famous landmark or journeying to see loved ones, basing your children’s activities on your destination is a great way to get them excited about your trip.
Start with a classic three-prong folder with pockets. Write your child’s name on the front, but leave most of the cover available for decorating with vacation-themed stickers you’ve placed in the folder pockets.
Fill the folder with activity pages that are age-appropriate. For younger kids, we recommend coloring sheets. You can print out coloring sheets online, or put a prompt at the top of a blank page like “Our Summer Vacation” and see what they come up with from their imagination! You can even write a short story about your trip and have them illustrate it. For older kids, add in vacation-themed word searches, crosswords, mad libs and more. Add blank pages for things like post cards and family photos.
Along with the folders, activity pages and stickers, be sure to pack colored pencils and washable markers. Never pack crayons in the car, since the wax will melt in the hot vehicle. Place the coloring tools in a plastic zip-top bag or pencil pouch. If you have multiple kids, you’ll avoid complaints by packing the same colors for each child.
Activity books can turn typical road trip activities into something specially made for your vacation. Plus, these folders offer a great way to remember your vacation.
Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt. Why not turn your road trip into one? There are plenty of ways to plan a road trip scavenger hunt, depending on how much time you want to devote to the activity. If you’re the type of planner who wants to get to your destination ASAP, you won’t want to add extra stops to your journey. The best thing to do is to create a photo hunt, so that the kids can hunt for and take pictures of solutions to their clues right from the back seat. With silly clues that are slightly vague, you will end up with some pretty fun photos and happy kids. For example, “hunt for something that is red and has animals inside” could be a barn or it could be a car driving next to you!
For safety reasons, we don’t usually recommend driving “straight through.” Make the most of an added stop by turning it into a surprise for the kiddos. Research ahead of time what towns and cities are near your midway point and choose one that has some unique attractions the whole family can enjoy. Remember, it might be worth it to go an hour out of the way for a pristine beach, a national monument or a city on your bucket list.
Odd Roadside Attractions
Some of the most unique attractions can be found along America’s highways. When you see billboards advertising the world’s largest rocking chair or the leaning tower of pizza, go ahead and exit the highway. These odd-ball attractions are one of the coolest things about road trips, and they make for fun photo opportunities that might even be worthy of your annual holiday card.
For the ultimate kiddie surprise this summer vacation, see if you can get away with keeping your entire destination a surprise! For older kids, this is a fun way to get them to use their investigative skills. For younger kids, the awe on their face when you arrive might be totally worth it.