Kids and Road Trips- A Sanity Saving Guide for Traveling Parents

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Vacations are a prime opportunity for making family memories; unfortunately those memories aren’t always the ones we want to make. Kids have a special talent for taking a scenic drive and turning it into something straight out of a horror movie: fighting over who gets to sit by the window, begging (make that pleading like life depends on it) for over-priced gas station treats, and a never ending chorus of, “Are we there yet?” Road trips with kids can be hard, but they don’t have to be torture. With these sanity saving tips you hit the road with confidence and enjoy your next vacation. 

Kids and Road Trips

Find Kid Friendly Stops

You might find looking at mountain scenery for days on end enjoyable, but odds are your kids don’t share the same enthusiasm. As you plan your route look for kid-friendly stops and attractions and make an effort to add them in to your itinerary. Taking an hour long detour to see a candy factory, or even to visit a park, will make a long ride much for bearable for your little ones.

Pack with Unloading in Mind

Nothing is worse than pulling into a hotel in the middle of the night and having to haul several suitcases in, only to have to bring everything back to the car come morning. I pack each day’s clothing (shirts, pants, socks, underwear, everything) into large bags labeled for each day of the trip and fill a small suitcase with the items we need every day (toothbrushes, shoes, etc.). When we get to the hotel all we have to do is grab a clothing bag and our small suitcase. This makes it a lot easier to get everyone, and everything, up to our room quickly.

Know Your Limits

Driving a long distance in one day is a big stretch for anyone, adult or child. You don’t have to tackle the entire journey in a single day. Use past road trips and personal experience as a guide for determining how far you can travel in the car each day. It might work well to break a long drive into a couple smaller, more manageable segments. I find that if we do a long drive one day it works well to have a shorter drive the day after to give everyone a break.

Simplify Mealtimes

Driving through a fast food restaurant might seem like the easiest solution for lunch on the road, but there are easier (and cheaper) ways to get everyone fed. A quick stop to the grocery store for a loaf of bread and some sandwich fixings is often easier than wrangling everyone inside of a busy restaurant in the middle of a lunch rush. Head to park and let your little ones stretch their legs and enjoy a quick and convenient lunch.

A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way

Don’t wait for the screaming to start, instead solve problems quickly before they turn into meltdowns. When I can tell that my baby is getting bored in the backseat, I pop into the back with her for a little while. We read stories, play games and have snacks. When you have two adults in the car only one needs to focus on driving. The other can focus on keeping the kids happy. It is a lot easier to keep everyone entertained than to try and calm everyone down once the crying starts.

Pack up your car and hit the road; with these sanity saving tips you no longer have to fear a family road trip!


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