Mom’s Favorite Road Trip Hack

If you’re planning a family road trip, you’re probably spending time worrying about how to keep your kids from driving you crazy. I know I do. This simple road trip hack may make life easier for you.


Tell me if this sounds familiar… You’ve been in the car for hours. It feels like days. Or maybe now it is days. You don’t notice the hum of road noise anymore. All you hear is the kids whining from the back seat — the dreaded,

“Are we there yet?”

Kids have a hard time understanding time and distance.

The last time my family took a long road trip, I came up with a road trip hack that helped my 5-year old twins cope. I made them each a simplified map that they could relate to.


Actually, I made one for each day of our two-day trip, and another set for our return home.

Related: Check out this useful guide on how to take a road trip with kids by yourself. She has some smart, unexpected ideas!

I planned out our days and identified as many interesting-to-kids landmarks and stops as I could. I made a list of things my kids could see and look forward to, such as

  • crossing the Mississippi River
  • fast food playground stops
  • quirky roadside attractions we’d be driving past
  • state lines
  • random towns in which I planned to give the kids a treat

I tried to come up with a spacing of every few hours. You could do even more often if you think your kids will need it.

I printed off a basic map of the region we’d be driving through. Then, I marked numbers on the map that matched my list. I didn’t worry about finding the exact location. It just needed to be easy for the kids to follow.

These maps were the first page in little road trip folders I put together for each girl. Behind the maps were state coloring sheets, printable road trip games, and some general activity pages that I thought they’d enjoy.

It was a success!

I showed them how to read their maps. When the first child asked “Are we there yet?” I had them all get out their maps. We looked to see how far we’d driven and what landmark was next.

It totally stopped the complaining.

They knew what to expect, and understood the big picture a lot better. This is one road trip hack that I’ll definitely be doing again and again. For your free U.S. road trip printable, click here (scroll to choose the map that works for your location).

For more ideas, including some great free printables, you may like to check out the road trip activities from the Free Unit Study group…

Road Trip Activities from 3 Boys and a Dog
How To Stay Busy On An RV from Crafty Mama in ME
Road Trip Games for Kids from Look! We’re Learning!
Best Children Audio Books for Road Trips from The Jenny Evolution
Alphabet Travel Tic Tac Toe from Letters of Literacy
Kids Road Trip Scavenger Hunt Game from Schooling a Monkey
How To Turn Family Travel Into Learning Experiences from iGameMom
5 Fun Things To Do On A Road Trip from The Usual Mayhem
Outdoor Breaks for Road Trips from FrogMom
Best Family Road Trip Music from Bambini Travel
Road Trip Notebooking Pages from Year Round Homeschooling
Travel Journal from Embark on the Journey
Printable Road Trip Games from Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading
Road Trip Activities from Tales of Education at Home
Car Scavenger Hunt from Planet Smarty Pants

This simple road trip hack helps kids understand what to expect on a road trip. No more "are we there yet?" whining!


  1. Pingback: Frog Mom
  2. Maps are so much fun for kids! My girls are 11 and 12 and I now give them the actual road map of where we are driving through and ask them to find alternate routes or scenic stops for me. It usually keeps them quiet for a bit until they figure out what we need and it also teaches them to read a map, which is awesome skill. Love maps!

  3. Do you have a link for this Road Trip Map? I’d like to do this with my 5 year old on our upcoming trip. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for asking! I do have one. I was planning to put it in my “store” of free printables, which I’m still working on. Meanwhile, I’ve added it to the bottom of this post. Have a great trip!

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