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6 Tips for a Family-Friendly Road Trip

From routes with lots of rest stops to essentials for keeping kids occupied, we’ve got 6 tips for a fun journey

Three kids wearing sunglasses and straw hats are shown sitting in the backseat of a car

For many people, some of their best childhood memories are of road trips with their families. If you’re planning your first road trip with kids in tow, here are some helpful ideas.


Include lots of rest stops

Map your trip in advance—but we don’t actually mean plotting directions. Take a look at the different routes you can take and consider the points of interest along the way. They don’t have to be major attractions either: think the Big Apple if you’re headed east or the Tanger Outlet Centers if you’re headed north, where CAA Members receive a free coupon book with discounts up to 20% at select merchants. Or consider a cool park, a local attraction or even a mini golf course to break up the journey and to serve as built-in rest points for bathroom breaks and to stretch your legs. Before you leave, be sure to check what is open and any particular safety protocols that may be in place as a result of public health measures.

Research fun food options

A hand is shown holding an ice cream cone with a yellow and white ice cream truck in the background

Do some research before leaving home to find a great local bakery, an ice cream shop, a renowned restaurant to order takeout from or for curbside pick up, or take note if there’s a popular food truck along your route. Whether it’s for a snack or a picnic, passengers of all ages need to refuel along the way. And it helps to have food breaks—especially fun ones—planned out to avoid hungry kids.

Play car games

License plate bingo, eye spy and 20 Questions are classics for good reason. You can also buy mini versions of board games like checkers or snakes and ladders with magnetic boards and pieces so kids can easily play in the backseat.

Download apps to keep kids entertained

A child is shown in the backseat of a car wearing headphones and playing on a tablet

It could be an app that all passengers can play like Heads Up!—where one player has to guess the word they’ve been given from clues by their teammates—or a single-player app that encourages imagination or skill development. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out apps from Toca Boca—kids can tap into their creative side by designing their own world—or Thup, which is known for its preschool learning apps.

Make sure you have the right gear

Lap desks—like this one from the CAA Store—is completely portable with folding legs and a storage compartment. Add some colouring books, pencil crayons or a blank notebook to keep kids busy. Spill-proof cups from Indigo, where CAA Members earn up to 5% in CAA Dollars®, also make for easier travel.

Pack simple snacks

A child's hand is shown holding pretzel sticks in a car

Since you’ve already mapped out some stops along the way for food, you can keep the in-car snack menu pretty simple. A few boxes of granola bars, trail mix divided into individual containers or fresh fruit can go a long way. Pick up some healthy snack options from Well.ca, where Members earn 5% in CAA Dollars.

Get more with CAA

Before you hit the road, stock up on supplies with CAA’s Rewards partners for Member-exclusive deals and offers. Visit CAA’s Rewards page to see a complete list of our partners.

Plus, read about how to get packed for a road trip in the summer 2021 issue of CAA Magazine.

Image credit: iStock/Imgorthand, iStock/nrqemi, iStock/NicolasMcComber. iStock/yevtony