How To Survive a Long Road Trip with Kids

road trip

I am still recovering from an epic road trip to Universal Studios with the family. I cannot wait to share everything with you but it was so full of awesome it might take a week of posts. And considering that the first day of school is tomorrow (yikes!) it ain’t going to happen tonight.

So instead I thought I would share some wisdom I gleamed from our many MANY hours in the minivan.

1. License Plate Game : I am not lying when I say this was probably the most popular thing that we had in the car. And we have had it forever! I bought all these awesome things at the dollar store to wow and surprise the kids. But they loved looking at license plates and bonus of all bonuses, we found Hawaii!!! How does that happen?

2. Quarters: This was a suggestion off Facebook, but it worked brilliantly. I got each child a roll of quarters for the ride. If they whined, complained or beat on a sibling they lost a quarter. They also weren’t allowed to beg for snacks at gas station stops, but could spend their quarters if they wanted something. Whatever quarters they had at the end of the trip they got to spend at the amusement park. The most a kid lost was 3 quarters. They were super motivated to keep their money!

3. Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks: I cannot tell you how much money we saved by packing our own snacks. Usually we fall prey to picking up snacks at every stop and not only are they ridiculously unhealthy, they are pricey. I hit Costco before we left and we loaded up. We also had a few picnic lunches to save money on lunch. It was super fun and the kids got to run around a bit as a bonus.

4. Make It Your Own: When I was growing up we did a lot of road trips in a giant black Oldsmobile. Of course in those days we took naps across the back window and listened to Fleetwood Mac tapes. But one of the things I remember best is that every time we crossed a state line we all lifted our bottoms off our seat to “get over the state line”. I never really passed that tradition on, but this trip we fully embraced it and the kids loved it.

5. Limit Technology: I know the current mentality is that kids can’t road trip without lots of technological entertainment. I am not going to pretend we didn’t have any. But although we borrowed some DVD players for the ride, we found that we could only use one at a time so the kids really couldn’t be constantly plugged in. The surprising part is that they didn’t care one bit. They made their own entertainment which was often the best entertainment their parents could ask for.

Ryan and I both agreed that even if we could have found uber cheap flights we wouldn’t have traded our drive. Our family had so much fun “stuck” in the car. And although I would really like to stay in my current zip code for awhile, I think we have mastered the road trip quite nicely.

What are your tips for a successful road trip?


  1. I don’t think you know how encouraging some of your posts are. Just seeing that in a few years we might be able to do something like GET IN THE CAR and it not be a major catastrophe.
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