Our first family trip to Disney was in 2016. Our children were 7 & 9 years old and we surprised them with a road trip to Disney World. In this post, I will share a few tips to help you make your Disney Road Trip go smoothly.
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1. Drive overnight
We drove from Central Pennsylvania to Disney, our drive was about 21 hours with stops and breaks. It was a long trip! We choose to leave at around 5 PM and drive through the night. This worked out perfectly because the highways were very clear and the kids slept for most of the night.
If you are going to drive overnight make sure that you are well-rested and make time for extra stops to rest along the way.
2. Road Trip Entertainment for the Parents
While most of these tips are focused on helping your children have a fun road trip, we knew that we would also need some entertainment for the trip. I downloaded several Disney Podcasts and a few audiobooks. I love listening to a good audiobook when we take road trips.
We have used Audible in the past, which was totally worth the expense. You can sign up for Audible and often get up to 3 MONTHS for free by clicking here.
We shared a pair of headphones and listened while the kids were sleeping.
A few of our favorite Disney Podcasts are:
3. Make Trip Bags for the Kids
We prepared a small cinch backpack for each of the kids. They were filled with lots of fun activities that they could do on our trip as well as a lunch box full of snacks for the ride.
What we included in the kid’s travel backpack:
- Lapdesks I found these cute Dora-themed lap desks at 5 Below, I’m not sure if they are available anymore but you can find a similar small lapdesk here . You can customize it with fun Disney stickers or order some custom stickers online. The lap desks were handy for the kids to use when they spent time drawing or coloring on our ride.
- Disney-themed blankets – These ended up being a great purchase for our trip. The blankets were super soft and cozy, perfect for the kids to get cozy and fall asleep during our drive. We still use these small blankets when we go to the movies or travel.
- Back Seat Organization – Keeping things easy to reach during a road trip is crucial. This backseat organizer is a great option –
- Neck Pillows – These were super helpful to support their little heads when they fell asleep in the car.
- A small stuffed Mickey and Mini Toys – You can pick up your child’s favorite Disney character
- Play Packs – You can find these in the Target dollar spot. If you see these in the dollar spot be sure to pick up a few!
- Activity and coloring Books – These can be found at the Dollar Tree or get these here
- Sticker books – The kids played with these sticker books a lot!
- Crayons – We opted for crayons over markers so we didn’t have to worry about the mess or the markers drying out if (when) the lids were left off.
- Water bottles – This was another must-have item. We love these Contigo water bottles. They are small enough for children to manage and hold enough water for a trip in the car and were perfect for them to bring into the parks at Disney.
- These Disney-themed water bottles will keep drinks cold all day!
- Special Disney Notebook – to record memories
- Snacks – They each also had a lunch box filled with their snacks for the drive. You can read more about our road trip snacks below.
You May Also Like These Posts:
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- Disney Movie Marathon List
4. Prepare the car for a road trip
- Back of the seat storage (I love this one from Zulily – grab it if it’s available)
- Tissues – This is more of a practical item so you’re not consistently passing tissues back and forth
- A garbage bag – we used a bucket that could double as a sick bucket if needed (thankfully we did not experience any car sickness) .
- Wet wipes for messy faces and hands.
- Pain medicine for headaches.
- Melatonin – we did give our kids melatonin gummies when it was “bedtime”. We don’t use these at home so I wasn’t sure how much they would help. Both kids ended up sleeping most of the night, so I’d say they were a success, plus the kids were exhausted from all the excitement.
- Car window shades – These are great for the kid’s windows.
5. Pack snacks – Lots of Snacks!
Plan to have plenty of snacks for the long road trip. If you plan ahead you can be sure that the kids don’t spend 7 hours in a car eating animal crackers and chips… plan and pack some healthy snacks along. You can give each child a cute lunchbox with an icepack to keep items cool.
Here are a few cute Disney-themed lunch boxes that would work great:
- Disney lunch boxes: perfect size with cute designs
- Micky Mouse – lunchbox – This one is super cute! or pick up this Backpack and lunchbox set
- Disney Princess – Backpack and lunchbox set
- Frozen-themed lunch box or Backpack and lunchbox set
Icepacks: Try to find lightweight ice packs for their bags, we love these icepacks because they are small and thin, they don’t take up too much space, but keep everything cold.
A few of my favorite snacks to bring are:
- Grapes (cut if you have little ones)
- Mandarin oranges
- Cheese sticks
- Jammy Sammys
- Cereal Bars
- Yogurt tubes
- Juice boxes – be careful with too much fluids, or you’ll find yourself stopping for the bathroom every 10 minutes!
Some fun-themed Disney snacks to pack:
- Disney fruit crisps packs
- Mickey Goldfish
- Fruit snacks
- Cut sandwiches into Micky shapes with this Mickey Cookie Cutter
Or you can just put any snack in these fun Disney sandwich bags
If you need more ideas for your road trip snacks you might find some in my Lunch Box Ideas for Kids post.
>> Are you wondering, “how tall do you have to be for most rides at Disney World?” You can get a free Disney World ride height requirements chart here.
6. Have Games for the Kids to Play
- Road trip bingo (grab my free printables here)
- I spy was a hit
- World of Disney Eye Found It Card Game
- Disney Trivia Games
7. Some Extras Fun for your Disney Road Trip
- Watch Disney Movies – Thankfully we had a DVD player in our van so the kids could watch Disney movies on the way. Even though we were in the front seat and could not see the movies it was still really nice to have something fun to listen to. I think watching the movies really helped them to get even more excited.
>> Grab my free Disney Movie checklist with over 100 Disney Movies!
- Make an “Are we there yet” Road Trip Countdown
Since we had a super long trip? I decided to make an “are we there yet” countdown. I hung it from the front of the van so the kids could count down the last few hours with us. This also helps stop the constant, “how much longer?” questions.
I made this by using a very thick piece of polka dot ribbon, I added some stickers from the craft store and made the yellow tickets and numbers with my mother-in-law’s circuit machine.
PJ’s for each child – If you are driving overnight it is nice to change their clothes at a rest stop before their normal bedtime. This really helped them to know that it was time to wind down and fall asleep. Yes, we also bought them adorable Disney Themed Pj’s
8. Be Prepared for Grumpy Kids
Always prepare for the worst. Even though your kid is excited to go to Disney they will be tired and likely grumpy. Here are a few things we did to help them cheer them up.
Feed and water them – this is one of my favorite parenting tips when you have grumpy kids. When kids are grumpy they are usually tired, hungry, or thirsty.
Take a break and let them run around – Many kids need to get out energy when on a long trip – find a nice rest stop where they can run off some energy. Maybe bring along a frisbee or ball for them to play with.
Glow Sticks – We broke these out when the kids were having a hard time at night. It was the perfect distraction. We also pack lots of these for night parades and fireworks at the parks.
Surprises – Keep a few special treats, games, or activity books and break them out when the kids start to get grumpy.
9. Be Prepared for Emergencies
This isn’t the fun stuff but it is important to be prepared for emergencies when you are traveling a long distance.
- Insurance Cards and AAA (I highly recommend having AAA for a long roadtrip. Consider getting the extended towing option.)
- Check your spare tire (have a full-sized tire if possible)
- Sick bags – always a good idea to have these on hand (and make sure they are in a spot that you can very quickly grab them.
- First Aid Kit
- Road Side Emergency Kit – including jumper cables
- Medicine for headaches, stomach aches, etc.
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you are planning a Disney World trip and want to really surprise your kids be sure to check out my Surprise Disney World Scavenger Hunt post. You may also like my Disney Movie Marathon Printable.