Packing for winter travel with kids in tow? You've probably got a lot on your mind, from keeping the kids warm and entertained to avoiding dangerous road conditions. Oh, and where do you put the skis and snow gear?! We're big fans of family road trips, no matter the season. That's why we've put together this list of 16 essential things to bring along on a winter road trip with kids.
Road Trip Safety Essentials
- Ice scraper and brush: Keep an ice scraper and brush in your car for the entire winter. These tools will help you remove snow and ice from your windshield and windows, so you can have full visibility in wintry conditions (without waiting with your impatient kiddos for things to melt!).
- Sand/kitty litter: If you're driving in snowy conditions, you'll want to have a bag of sand or kitty litter on hand. If your car gets stuck, scatter either material in front of your tire to help create the traction your tires need to keep moving.
- Flares or reflectors: Drivers have decreased visibility at night, and it's even worse when you add snow to the mix. If the unfortunate happens and you're stuck on the side of the road, flares and reflectors will ensure other drivers see you.
- Shovel: A small, collapsible shovel won't take up too much space in your trunk and will be an invaluable tool if you find yourself stuck in deep snow.
- Jumper cables: Freezing temperatures can take a toll on your car's battery. Keep jumper cables on hand so you can get your car moving (and your heater blasting!) instead of waiting for a tow.
- Portable cell phone battery: Black ice, slick roads, and stressed drivers — there are plenty of things that can cause your road trip to go sideways in the winter. No matter the situation, a dead cellphone can make it worse! Keep a portable battery in the car so you can make sure your phone is ready to go in case you need to call for help.
- Flashlight: It gets dark early in the winter. Even if you don't plan on hitting the road at night, you may still find yourself in the dark. Keep a flashlight and extra batteries in your vehicle in case you get stranded or stuck.
Winter Road Trip Warmth Essentials
- Blankets: Turn your car into a nap fort on wheels by bringing a cozy stack of blankets for long road trips with kids. Not only will these help your little ones catch some Z's on your way to your destination, but they're also an extra safety measure if you experience car troubles and can't rely on your heater.
- Coats: Even if you're going from a heated house straight into a heated car and then back into a heated house, it's important to always bring coats with you in your vehicle. If your car gets stuck or breaks down, you'll want to make sure everyone in the family is bundled up.
- Waterproof mittens/gloves: There's a reason your vehicle has a glove box! Stash a pair of waterproof gloves in your car just in case you need to change a tire or dig the wheels out of a snowbank. Make sure your children each have a warm pair as well. If you enjoy being super prepared, throw in a few hand warmer packs, too!
Winter Road Trip Entertainment Essentials
- Coloring books and stickers: Who doesn't love a good coloring or sticker book? Purchase a few new ones for the trip and, at the very least, your kids will be excited by the novelty. Plus, you'll get a few minutes of quiet time!
- Snacks: If you're looking for some tried and true road trip hacks with kids, look no further than the snack aisle. Half the fun of road tripping is packing special treats for the drive. For extra happy passengers, consider letting your kids each pick out one snack – ideally something that isn't too messy!
- Games: There's no better way to pass the time on a road trip than by playing family games. Pack miniature dry erase boards for games like Tic Tac Toe, Hangman, or Pictionary. "I Spy" and "20 Questions" are classics and don't require any special supplies. Print off these MadLibs from FamilyEducation to get the laughs rolling.
- Tablets (plus charger): There is a time and place to limit screen time… and it's usually not on a road trip. Load up your tablet with videos (make sure to download them in case your service is spotty) and enjoy a peaceful drive.
- Music: Road trips are the perfect opportunity for a family sing-along. Take music requests before hitting the road, and let your kids take turns being the DJ!
- Books: It's the perfect compromise: one parent drives, the other one is on reading duty. Bring along a few of your family's favorite books, and see how many you can read before your audience is snoozing. If you tend to get carsick, download some kid-friendly podcasts, and have them do the storytelling for you! What If World is a great podcast for the little ones, and The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel is popular with tweens!
You want a family road trip that's easy, fun, and quick, but you also want a family road trip that's safe. That's why Firestone Complete Auto Care should be your first stop before any road trip with your precious cargo. In a Complete Vehicle Inspection, our professional auto technicians inspect your car from top to bottom, inside and out, to make sure your systems are in line with manufacturer recommendations and will get you safely to your winter destination. Visit your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care for a Complete Vehicle Inspection, and we'll make sure your vehicle is road-trip-ready.