Travel hacks to keep the kids happy this Easter road trip

kid backseat of car
Keeping the kids entertained in the backseat can be easier said than done. Photo credit: Getty.

With Easter around the corner and families preparing for their long-weekend road trips, the old saying "it's about the journey and not the destination" can be a far cry for even the most patient of parents.

Despite packing extra snacks and organising entertainment, sometimes kids can leave parents feeling frazzled and frustrated before even leaving the house. As a result, many families have inevitably experienced gridlocked traffic and the age-old question from kids, "are we there yet?"

To help families get the most out of their Easter road trip and ensure the journey is as smooth as possible, Budget has pulled together some top tips and hacks to keep the kids happy in the car.

Plan, plan, plan


Plan your road trip down to the minute. Once you think you're done planning, plan some more. Key things to consider before embarking on your road trip, is to time it around the kid's sleeping patterns, schedule toilet breaks and rest periods for the family to stretch their legs and get some air. Make packing lists ahead of time to ensure nothing is forgotten and be sure to include an extra set of accessible clothes in case of any accidents during the trip.

Are we there yet?


Hear the end of the pesky "are we there yet?" or "how much longer" questions by creating a fun and visual road-trip countdown. Get the kids to create cards listing each city or town that you will pass on your route and pin them on a string to be displayed in the car. Every time you pass a city or town, remove the corresponding card, making it more and more exciting the closer you get to your destination.

Comfort is key


If your road trip is on the longer side, be sure to dress the kids in comfortable clothes. Leggings, tracksuits, or even pyjamas are perfect for a lengthy car ride. This way, the children can get more comfortable and even have a nap so they're well-rested to get out and explore once you arrive at your destination.

Organisation nation


You can never be too organised on a road trip. Having a tidy, organised car will save a surprising amount of time at pit stops and help you get back on the road faster. A handy trick is hanging a shoe organiser on the back of the front seats as the pockets act as individual storage compartments for the kids to have access to everything they might need. If your kids love to draw or colour-in, attach suction shower organisers on car windows to hold their crayons, pencils and markers, making them easy to access and saves them from falling under the seats.

Stock up on snacks


Nobody wants a 'hangry' toddler (or partner!), so make sure to stock up on snacks before heading off on the road. Pre-prepared, individual servings of fruits and veggies are always ideal, but it's always great to also pack a sweet treat for the children to look forward to as a reward for being on their best behaviour.

Games for everyone


Road trip games are not only great for kids, but for the whole family. While iPads and car board games are great, why not make your own game from the road trip itself? Get the kids interested looking out of the windows on a road trip scavenger hunt and see who can see the most roadside sights along the way! Alternatively, pack each kids' favourite games in a dedicated backpack and keep it with them in the car, that way they have everything they need at their fingertips.

NZ Police have also issued their own tips for the family roadie, more about arriving at the destination safely.

With Easter Monday, Anzac Day and school holidays all falling in the same week, it's likely to be extra busy on our roads, says NZ Transport Agency Acting Director Safety and Environment, Niclas Johansson.

"At any time on our roads, following these simple rules can be the difference between a safe trip or a tragic outcome:

  • Drive at a safe speed  depending on weather and other conditions this may be lower than the posted speed limit 
  •  Always wear a seatbelt
  •  Don't drive when tired and avoid alcohol
  •  Focus on the task of driving  distractions can be deadly, so put your phone away and keep your focus on the road.

"Congestion and delays are inevitable during holiday periods, so we also want to remind everyone to leave plenty of time for their journey, drive to the conditions and plan ahead before leaving home," Johansson says