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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

7 hacks for fun, stress-free road travel with grandkids

May 30, 2023 12:52PM ● By Kimberly Blaker

Taking a road trip with grandkids can be a fun adventure for grandkids and grandparents alike. The question is: Are you prepared for the sibling squabbles, food and drink spills, umpteen rest stops and being asked a hundred times or more, “Are we there yet?” 

With a little pre-planning, you can drastically reduce the hassles and turn your time on the road into a fun, family experience for all.

Restroom breaks. Immediately before heading out, have everyone go to the bathroom, whether they need to or not. Just before and while on the road, limit beverages, particularly caffeinated ones, to reduce the frequency of restroom stops. When you do have to stop for something, have everyone use the restroom again, and don’t accept anyone’s claim, “I don’t need to go.”

Reduce stops. Strategize where you choose to stop so you can cover all the bases at once. Fuel up, grab food and beverages, use the restroom, and go for a walk or play a game of tag so everyone can stretch and exercise.

Drive through the night. Kids typically sleep through the night on the road. It’ll seem like they’ve reached your destination in the blink of an eye, which will reduce your overall stress. So long as night driving isn’t an issue, adults can switch off driving while one another sleeps. 

Snacks and drinks. Bring along a cooler and a variety of drinks and snacks to reduce pit stops. Breaking up the time with small meals and snacks will also help keep kids pacified. When packing snacks, include some nutritious ones like carrot sticks and apples. Also, keep in mind the messiness of particular types of foods. To reduce messes, avoid foods that melt, smear and squish, such as chocolate, cupcakes and yogurt.

Plan fun or scenic stops. Do some advance research to find a fun stop along the way, and build it into your vacation. Look for a state or national park, national monument, beach, kiddie fun land, river walk or water park.

Car entertainment. Before your trip, visit the library to pick out books, audiobooks, movies and music CDs. Bringing along a portable DVD player or tablet with downloaded movies. Headphones are always a good idea unless you want to hear the music of “CoCo” all the time. But don’t let the kids have the items until you’re on the road. That way, the kids will have fresh entertainment.

Also, take along some car games, and print a list of games that don’t require pieces to play. Some ideas to get you started:

The license plate game. Have everyone write down the states of the license plates as they spot them. The person with the most states wins.

The “Would you rather?” game. Take turns asking everyone what their choice would be between two gross or unpleasant situations. For example, would you rather be trapped in a closet that’s crawling with hundreds of centipedes or eat a worm?

Screen time. While limiting kids’ daily screen time is a best practice, consider making an exception for your road trip. Depending on the length of your drive, it can be a challenge to keep kids amused for the duration despite all the other entertainment you bring along. Limit their screen time on the road by allowing them 30-minute cycles of screen time broken up by other activities. 

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15 Grandkid-Friendly Destinations & Pit Stops

(that aren’t the aquarium or the zoo)

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

415 E. 6th St., Glenwood Springs | 970-945-6571

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs| 970-945-4228

Mountain Top Explorium

100 S. Park Ave., Breckenridge | 970-453-7878

Colorado Railroad Museum

17155 W. 44th Ave., Golden | 800-365-6263 

Dinosaur Ridge

16831 W. Alameda Pkwy, Morrison | 303-697-3466

Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center

6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster | 303-469-5441

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

408 Mason Ct., Fort Collins | 970-221-6738

Wild Animal Sanctuary

2999 County Road 53, Keenesburg | 303-536-0118

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park

4821 Hwy 84, Pagosa Springs | 970-264-5546

Trailhead Children’s Museum

606 6th St., Crested Butte | 970-349-7160

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

479 Main St., Silverton


Summer Tubing Hill in Granby | 970-586-3341 

The North Pole (Yes, it’s open during the summer)

5050 Pikes Peak Hwy, Cascade | 719-684-9432

Colorado Gators Reptile Park

9162 Lane 9 North, Mosca | 719-378-2612

Kit Carson County Carousel

815 15th St., Burlington | 719-348-5562

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