Road Trip with Kids: Surviving to Thriving

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Intentionally Well: Striving for present intentionality every day.

Going on a road trip with kids isn’t something that conjures feelings of rainbows and sunshine. I get it. Having your whole family crammed in the car for an extended amount of time feels overwhelming. As you probably know (or maybe not), we live in Indianapolis. Our entire family lives in Alabama. So, over the last three years, we have become accustomed to long road trips with our kids. I am here to share with you all the things we do to make these trips not only bearable but also fun.

Prep Expectations in Advance

If you are familiar with Intentionally Well, it shouldn’t surprise you to see preparation at the top of the list. Ha! I like to plan. Here is what I do. First, I talk often about the trip with my kids. I mark the dates of the vacation on my children’s monthly calendar which is always posted on our refrigerator. They really love counting down the days until we leave. I remind them the travel days will be spent in the car. I tell them over and over again that we will be driving all day. This helps manage their expectations. It takes about eight hours to our house to my parents house according to Maps without stopping. However, we know that stopping often is a given when traveling with kids. Last time, it took us about eleven hours to make that drive. Eleven.

Snacks

We usually keep pretty basic snacks in our house. Fruit, Larabars, raisins, etc.. But when we go on a road trip with kids, we go all out with the snacks. Gummies…you got it. Chips…you got it. Literally, whatever the kids want, I will pack it. I promise having favorite snacks on a long car ride is worth it. I mean, I love the strawberry sour straws like there is no tomorrow on a road trip. Treat yourself and your kids, mama.

Activities

I did a pole in Instagram, and it was about 60/40 as to families preferring activity books to screens for road trips. We utilize both. My three year old also plays with his favorite toys really well in the car, so those always get packed. As far as what my children do to occupy themselves in the car, I let them choose. I don’t limit the screens or a toy or a book. They can to do whatever they like as long as they are being respectful of others (use headphones, share, etc). I am also a fan of listening to audiobooks during long car trips. I’ve included some links to a few of our favorite car activities below.

Potty Breaks

It’s inevitable that you will have to stop multiple times during your trip. We usually end up stopping for one reason or another about every one and a half to two hours. If your kids are younger, you might be stopping every hour. It is what it is. However, I have found some tricks to get the most out of each stop. First, stop at the big truck stops if you can (Love’s, Pilot…). I find that the bathrooms at these establishments are bigger and cleaner than most of the regular gas stations. They offer more snack choices, and they are usually situated at exits with several food options. Next on the list is rest stops. These are great if you don’t need food. Rest stops almost always have some sort of green space. Kids are able to run around and really get those wiggles out. Lastly, we enjoy stopping at the restaurant Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel has the little store you can explore and you can also order a drink to go from the register. The facilities are clean, and it’s just something a little different and unexpected for the kids.

I hope these tips and tricks help you thrive on your next road trip with your kids. Have any other tips to share with others? Post them in the comments below. As always, please share this post with your friends if you enjoyed it!

Entertain kids wherever you go with On-The-Go Craft Kits from Kid Made Modern.

9 thoughts on “Road Trip with Kids: Surviving to Thriving

  1. These are great tips! We utilize all three when we go on road trips! My son is a snacker so we definitely make sure we have plenty of goodies to keep him happy. I am trying to get him to sleep on road trips too but that yet has to be successful!

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

  2. These are some really great tips! For snacks, we have craft grid containers that we fill with different snacks for picky eaters!

  3. This is so helpful! We’re about to have our first long trip with the baby and a toddler and it kind of freaks me out.

  4. Prepping everyone for the trip is key! I really like you thought about the larger chain gas stations as I have found that as well especially in the past year. I also purchased a portable potty for my toddler when I don’t feel like it is the best place to take her in to use the restroom. Life saver! AND I totally agree about snacking on what you love as well as screen time as you like. I mean it is the car and most of us are ready to get there as soon as we start. Thank you for the post!

  5. Preparation for trips is key! And snacks, yes, you can never have enough.
    We have found that limiting the kids to water while driving helps with keeping potty breaks to a minimum and keeps those sticky spills from occurring too.

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