Left to right girl man boy woman sitting in cargo space of car

Getting set to hit the vacation highway this summer? Like life, it’s about taking in the view and enjoying the ride.

Often, while on a family road trip, the journey to and from can either make or break the whole vacation! That’s why it’s important to plan out the trip activities as carefully as we do accommodations and rest stops. We hang on the hope that the hours spent together en route to our vacation destination can be spent in peace (mostly) while having fun (hopefully).

Winding highway cutting through green mountainside with water in background

One way to help pass the time between rest stops is to bring a few toys along for the ride. Young children generally like to cuddle with a stuffed animal or plush toy. For baby, try affixing a car seat toy that has a rattle and a few spinning toys to help keep them distracted. The Infantino Musical Bar helped keep our grandson busy on long rides. It lights up, it’s musical and it has colourful ribbons and mirrors, too.

If you’re looking for a playful way for your little one to practise developmental skills while passing the time on the drive, the Wimmer-Ferguson See and Say Board Book by Manhattan Toy may help. From the award-winning collection of black-and-white developmental toys, each page of this book features a simple one-word text to encourage back and forth between adult—or sibling—and baby.

For an older child, a Hatchimals toy may be just the companion for this road trip. This type of toy may be a great end-of-school-year or kick-off-to-summer gift idea, so hints to grandma and grandpa may be in order here. The Hatchimals Mystery may help keep your 5- to 7-year-olds busy because, for the first time ever, you have no idea which character is inside! Watch for glowing eyes and help it hatch, then meet and fall in love with an adorable new friend. Not sure how Hatchimals work? This article on The Morning Call may help.

For me, the best road trip memories are those of games we played along the way. Whether it was “collecting” out-of-province license plates or looking for items in the car for a spirited game of “I Spy,” it was a great way to silence the “Are we there yet?” question. Here’s a travel game for grown-ups and kids alike: Real Life Travel Bingo by Breaking Games. Mark off things that you experience on a road trip. Use plastic sliders to mark your finds—five in a row wins and you start all over again!

Black SUV with roof rack driving on a highway through mountains

Regular pit stops on a long road trip are a natural necessity. However, if they’re combined with restaurant visits, those pit stops can take a toll on the wallet.

To help keep pit stops—and that includes buying refreshments—to a minimum, be sure to pack drinks, fresh fruit and simple snacks. Being prepared will help fight the temptation to spend money unnecessarily. It’ll also help keep tempers in check … when little ones get hungry, it’s not just their tummies that growl!

If you don’t have one already, you may want to purchase a cooler to help keep drinks and fruit cool. You’ll find a wide selection of coolers both in-store and online to suit your budget and needs.

I think this cooler is the coolest of the bunch, in more ways than one! It’s the Powerchill 40 Quart Thermoelectric Cooler by Coleman. It can be powered from your car, boat or home outlet. This cooler operates without ice, opens from the left or right side and weighs just 18 pounds.

Man driving car with woman and children inside

All right. I know you probably won’t take a trip without a list, so let’s check off a few key items. Toys? Check. Games? Check. Refreshments? Check. Cooler (with or without ice)? Check! All you need now is good traffic, agreeable weather and earbuds so you can listen to tunes when the wee ones finally fall asleep.

Safe travels! Oh, and make some great memories, won’t you?