Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
Road trips are awesome ways to travel. They are so much fun! But, they aren’t always easy, especially when you have kids. If you like the idea of a family road trip, but wonder if it is worth it, then this article is for you! Today, we are going to walk through the pros and cons of taking a road trip with kids, so you can decide if it’s something you should plan for your next family vacation. Plus, I’ll give you some bonus tips to prevent epic meltdowns from your kids.
My husband and I took our first road trip with our son when he was only 2 weeks old. We made a 4 hour round trip drive to visit family for Thanksgiving. Since then, we have taken countless road trips of various lengths as a family. Many of them have been 10-20 hours long. Through the years, we have experienced just about everything you can imagine, including more instances of car sickness than I care to think about!
The Pros and Cons of a Road Trip With Kids
In order to know if a road trip is the right vacation for your family, you need to look at the pros and cons. Then, consider your family’s expectations, desires, and personalities. The determining factor for one family may not be the same for another family.
One of the best advantages of taking a road trip with kids is that it gives you a lot of time for family bonding. Being in the car with your family for hours on end is basically built-in quality time. A road trip turns your kids into a captive audience and forces them to spend time with you and each other. Even if they are glued to their screens at first, at some point, they are bound to look up and interact with you. To encourage this, try some of our screen free activities for road trips.
Family vacations are the perfect time to make memories together. Road trips give you a great opportunity to do this. Whether it is taking a family picture in front of a roadside attraction or singing at the top of your lungs as you cruise down the highway, road trips are full of moments that your family will cherish and talk about for years to come.
When you fly to your vacation destination, you only see that one location. But, when you take a road trip with kids, you get to see and do more. Road trips allow you to do things on the way to and from your ultimate destination. And you just may find some hidden gems in the process!
While flying may be cheaper than driving for one person, this is usually not the case when it comes to families. Most of the time, driving will save you money over buying plane tickets for your entire family. You can then use this money on other aspects of your vacation.
Journey Over Destination
Road trips give you the chance to show your kids that, many times, the journey is more important than the destination. This is a great life lesson that you can teach them in a very practical way.
Taking a road trip with kids gives you the utmost flexibility in your vacation. You can leave when you want, stop for however long you need, and extend your trip if you would like. Feel like taking a detour? Go for it! When you take a road trip, you are not locked into someone else’s schedule. Road trips allow you to be in control of the schedule, and when you travel with kids, flexibility is huge.
No Luggage Restrictions
Another great thing about taking a road trip with kids is no luggage restrictions. Many times, when you travel with kids, you also have to travel with a lot of stuff. When you fly, this means choosing between paying baggage fees or leaving things at home. It also means you are limited on the amount of souvenirs you can bring back from your trip. But, when you drive, you are only limited by the amount of space you have in your car. Plus, you don’t have to pay baggage fees, no matter how heavy your luggage is!
No Waiting Around
The best part of taking a road trip with kids is not waiting around like you have to do when you fly. There is nothing worse than sitting in an airport waiting to board a plane with a tired, cranky toddler. Road trips allow you to skip the waiting and get on with your trip. Many times, my husband and I will decide to start our trip earlier than planned when we are driving, simply because we don’t want to wait around any longer.
Having Transportation at Your Destination
Another great thing about taking a road trip with kids is that it allows you to have your own transportation at your destination. This can be super convenient when you have kids in tow because it lets you get from place to place directly and quickly. It can also save you money on cabs, Ubers, and public transportation. Plus, if your kids are small enough to be in car seats, you will have your own car seats on your trip.
The downside to taking a road trip with kids is that it takes longer. If you have a child that hates being in the car or in transition, this prolongs the misery. It also means that it takes you longer to get to the fun of your vacation destination. However, there are some ways to save time on your road trips.
Eats Up Some Limited Vacation Time
If you have limited vacation time, taking longer to get to your destination means you have less time to enjoy your ultimate location. This can be a big problem if you only have a few days off. You don’t want to take two days to get there and two days to get home if you only have 5 days for your trip.
Can Be Exhausting
Let’s be honest, long car rides can be exhausting. They are fun, but they will wear you out. If you don’t have time to get a little rest after arriving at your destination, then you risk your whole family being tired during the entire trip. This is definitely something to think about when deciding if a road trip with kids is right for your family.
Wear & Tear on Your Car
Anther con to road trips is the wear and tear it puts on your car. If your trip is fairly short, this isn’t too big of a deal, but it is something to think about if your trip will be quite long. One way to avoid this is to rent a car for your trip. Then you can save the miles on your own car.
If you will be going to a big city or staying at a resort, consider how much you will have to pay in parking fees during your trip. A road trip doesn’t make any sense if you have to spend more in parking fees than you would on plane seats for the entire family. So look into how much these will cost you before committing to a road trip.
Bonus Tips for Road Trip With Kids
If you haven’t taken a road trip with kids before, don’t be intimidated. They can be a lot of fun. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your family road trip:
- The younger your kids are when you start taking family road trips, the easier it is. Get them accustomed to it early in life, and they will never know the difference.
- Drive as much as possible while your kids sleep. Consider leaving during the wee hours of the morning to get a few hours of driving in before they wake up.
- Pack plenty of snacks for the road. Sometimes, the best way to curb the crankiness is to give your kids a snack. See our list of the best road trip snacks for kids.
- Pack a pillow and small blanket for each child. This will allow them to adjust to the temperature of the car and get comfortable enough to sleep. By giving each one their own, you can avoid them fighting over the blanket.
- If you will be spending the night along the way, pack everything you need for the next day in one overnight bag. This way, you only have to unload one bag for the night instead of all of your luggage.
For more tips on family road trips, see our ultimate guide to family road trips, tips for successful road trips with kids, tips for road trips with babies and toddlers, and essential items for road trips with kids. Also check out our complete guide to happy travel with kids.
Taking a road trip with your children is one of the best forms of vacation you can ever take. But, some people are hesitant to jump in. The above pros, cons, and tips should help you decide if a road trip is right for your family. If you’re still not sure, try it and see if you love it! Happy travels!