Today’s tips are about keeping the kids busy and entertained while on your road trip to Walt Disney World. The last thing we want to hear repeatedly is the dreaded question, “Are we there yet?” Spending some time preparing for the trip ahead of time, and planning some activities for your kids, will help make the trip to Walt Disney World much easier for you and for them.
We like to drive in little or no traffic, so we leave at 3:00 a.m. and drive in the dark for several hours. This assures us very little traffic and the kids usually sleep until just in time to stop for breakfast. I highly recommend leaving in the middle of the night, if possible.Bring plenty of pillows and blankets. Children are more likely to sleep in the car if they are comfortable. Also, let them bring their favorite stuffed animal or blanket for security if they wish.
When the kids were little, I packed little surprise gifts to give to them when we got ready to leave: coloring books, crayons, toys they collected, etc. It took all the strength I had not to give them the treats ahead of time but it was a nice surprise for the trip and was worth the wait as it helped to keep them entertained and made the trip not seem so long. Plus, you can collect them for months and hide them, so you can buy everything on sale. I fully utilize my local Dollar Store (and they just happen to have lots of Disney-themed books and trinkets as well).
Favorites from home
I have each child pack his or her backpack with the activities they want to do during the ride. Gallon-size ziptop bags are great for holding pencils, pens, markers, cast iron cars, and any other small items. They take their ipods and other electronic devices in there also.
If your vehicle does not have a DVD player in it, bring along a portable one for the children to enjoy some movies (preferably Disney movies). I used to check out lots of Disney movies from my local library for the kids to watch on the way. I still check out some movies and there is also a great selection of audio books to choose from now that they are older. Don’t forget to bring the car chargers.
Stop, stretch and roll
Stop for restroom breaks at least every few hours. This gives everyone a more comfortable ride and also gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs. Roadside rest areas are a great place or when stopping to get gas. It only takes a few minutes and will save a lot of hassle later.
Explore information about other states
Some of our favorite places to stop are Visitors Welcome Centers. We always stop at the Visitors Welcome Centers in each state on our way to WDW: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. We have taken pictures at each one. They are a great addition to the scrapbook later. Plus, many give you free drinks and information.
Books are a great way to keep the kids occupied. Let them bring their favorites or check some out at the library. Be aware that some people get sick reading in the car, though, so just like at home I have cold water and a wash towel on hand. It is the only remedy I have ever found that cures nausea quickly. Just put cold water on the wash towel, ring it out, fold it up, and place it on the forehead for nearly instant relief.
Car games: There are many games you can play in the car. One is the alphabet game where they begin at A and try to find each letter of the alphabet in order on street signs and billboards. We all join in on spotting the letters. Another is the license plate game, using a list of the 50 states. We try to find a license plate from each state during our journey. Also, when we get to the resort, the first one to find another Texas license plate gets a reward.
Another option is to create a scavenger hunt before you go. Put together a list ahead of time and take it out when boredom sets in. You can include things to find while looking out the window, such as policeman, cow, wildlife, people talking on a cell phone, bike, funny bumper sticker, antenna topper, certain signs, etc.
Another fun car game is “Aunt Fanny” and here is how you play: You start the game by saying, “My Aunt Fanny went on a trip and in her suitcase she packed:” and the next person says something that starts with the letter A, then the next person names something that starts with the letter B, and so on. This way, everyone in the car gets to play. You can name real things that someone would pack or silly things, or all Disney things.
Travel games: There are travel editions of many popular kids games, such as Checkers, Chess, Scrabble, Boggle, Clue and Battleship. They can also play card games like Battle, Go Fish and Slap Jack. Cards would be a great gift to give them on the way (especially Mickey cards).
Your kids might also enjoy crossword puzzles, find-a-word, connect-the-dots, and Soduko. These are more great things to give them as treats on the way. You can find them at every Dollar Store.
Handheld games are another option. Most kids have their favorites to pack in their travel backpack. Be sure to bring chargers and/or extra batteries.
Having snacks in the car will be VERY important on your road trip. Plan ahead and buy single-serving packages of their favorite snacks. If their faves don’t come in single servings, pack servings in baggies so they can grab and graze. You can also take a small cooler for snacks and drinks.
Tips for the way back home
The way to Disney is always the better drive because we are all looking forward to what is to come. The ride back home is less than exciting as we are all heading back to work and school and our fantastic vacation is coming to an end. Don’t let your vacation end once you see the Disney welcome sign in the rear view mirror. Spend some time together talking on the way back about their favorite memories from the trip. Try to think of all the things that made the trip great. Jot down some notes on funny things that happened or that someone said. This makes a great addition to the pictures once you are back home and putting the photo album together.
If you didn’t stop at the State Visitors Centers on the way to Disney World, stop on the way back and have them do funny poses by the state signs or record little one-minute clips of them making up rhymes about the state or acting like news reporters.
Try to enjoy the trip back home as much as possible. This is not a good time to make your kids do their homework or, trust me, you will be in for a long ride. Preferably, have them do it before you leave unless it is a fun project they can work on.
Most of all, enjoy being able to spend this time together. It doesn’t take long before they are actually at the age you wish they were when they start bickering in the back seat, and I know about that all too well. Have a wonderful road trip and travel safely!
Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.