It’s almost summer and for our family it means we plan a road trip from Dallas to Minnesota. This is a trip I usually make alone with my four kids, it’s a 15-hour drive and more than once it has rendered me an angry crying mess because no one had created a portal to make that trip faster. It took me about 3 years before I got creative and came up with a way to make me fear the trip less and my kids enjoy their time in the car. If you are taking a road trip this summer, these tips and tricks may come in handy!
Planning ahead is key!
For some reason I would “forget” that I was taking a trip with four small people and wouldn’t start planning until a week out. This left me broke and panicked so now I will save or purchase some things throughout the year.
Things that I buy throughout the year:
- Small toys that won’t destroy or get lost in the car. After Christmas you can find a TON of small toys on clearance. (If you have a toddler be careful they aren’t too small that they could choke on them)
- Coloring books or activity books and colored pencils. You can find these on Amazon for cheap. (I will no longer buy crayons because I learned the hard way that crayons were created by demons to torture parents because they melt in the car and ruin everything!)
- Water bottles that are re-fillable
- One thing that I have invested in, in the past, are portable DVD players that attach to my headrest. (like these)
I will hide everything so the kids don’t see or know what they will be getting during the car ride. It’s something they look forward to when they get in the car.
During the week of the trip I will buy snacks and food for the car ride and take an inventory of anything that I might be missing or need for the ride. I also do one more check of the car to make sure the oil has been changed and all of the fluids are topped off.
The day before the trip I will portion out snacks into snack size zip lock bags and place it all in a cooler. Pre portioning makes it easier to grab them from the cooler as I’m driving and hand to the kids. I pack a separate cooler with lunches in it and we will stop and have a picnic at a rest area. I will also pack the car the night before so I don’t feel rushed or flustered in the morning.
I will plan and alternate activities hourly throughout the drive. For example:
- Hour 1 I will play a DVD
- Hour 2 I will give them one “new” toy. Some years I have wrapped them to give them something “extra” to do to try and eat up more time. Yes, it makes a mess but you can throw it away when you stop for gas.
- Hour 3 I will give them a snack
- Hour 4 I will give them a coloring book or activity book
- Hour 5 we will play a road trip game. There are a ton of great games on Pinterest. Here is one I like! (Link here)
Then I will repeat the process until we have arrived at our destination. This process gives my kids something to look forward to each hour that is “new”.
When my kids were younger I would plan to stop a lot. I would find things along our route that might be interesting and cheap. This particular year we stopped at the “World’s Greatest Animal Exhibit,” it was slightly sketchy and my kids were clearly stoked about it. However, at the end of our “tour” they let the kids play with a baby white tiger that was cool but now I am wondering how safe or legal that was.
Do not neglect planning for your own personal sanity on the drive. I will download books or podcasts to listen to while I drive to keep my mind alert. I also pack myself my own snacks that aren’t Goldfish crackers or raisins because I’m an adult, I’m driving for roughly a billion hours and I deserve a candy bar and a Red Bull. If you notice you are getting tired it’s better to stop for the night then potentially falling asleep at the wheel. And try to enjoy the journey. It’s ok to stop and it’s ok to turn up the radio so you can’t hear the arguing.