5 Things That Saved My Sanity During the Family Road Trip

Road Trip
Courtesy of BigStock Photo

Well, it’s been 15 days since I last blogged. I have no real excuse. I was busy, I was tired. Between my mom, my husband and me,  we drove 3,500 miles over two weeks between the “BIG” drives and the day-to-day drives, so all the excuses are valid. Yet, it comes down to one real reason. I didn’t make time for my blog and sometimes that is okay.

So, I will pick up where I left off. I have been home for twelve hours, after completing an 1,150 mile drive from Galveseton, Texas to Chicago, Il with my husband and three kids. 

I haven’t been home for two full weeks, and I missed it! There is dog hair all over the couch b/c the sneaky dog lived on the couch in between dog sitter visits and is shedding like crazy. Everything smells a little like moldy, rotting food. We have no actual food in the fridge because I’m the primary grocery shopper, so even though my hubby was home alone for a week, I’m fairly confident he ate out or didn’t eat while I was gone.

But, we are home. My home!!! Really home…and it is heaven!

The trip was absolutely amazing, but that will be a story for another day.  Today, let’s talk about surviving the road trip!

  1. Snacks: I have a monster mom-mobile with bucket seats, so I made a last minute trip to Walmart before we left for a small cooler that fit between the seats.  We used ice packs to keep juice boxes, bottled water, cheese sticks, jelly, and frozen GoGurt cold. It was a life saver! It also saved tons of money and time because we could avoid gas station snacks.  We also had a full grocery bag full of bread, peanut butter, Goldfish and granola bars. I actually can’t take credit for the peanut butter, but it was BRILLIANT.
  2. Games and art supplies: I know this sounds silly, but I was amazed with how effective $15 dollars worth of art supplies, coloring books, and travel games from Dollar Tree entertained my kids. Dry Erase Markers were magical! Thanks to a fun site I found, I discovered you can use them to write on the car windows.  I also found an awesome magnetic Hangman game at Walmart that came with its own container. That got us through about 100 miles of fun in Oklahoma.
  3. Road trip activities: I spent about 30 minutes googling “Road Trip Games for Kids” before I left. There are 100s of different options out there. I focused on a few blogs that included links to printable activities.  The kids’ favorites were the classics, and there is a gold mine of printables at the Travel with Kids website that I found.
    • The License Plate game worked for both rounds of the trip. Some of the iSpy games were very popular too.
    • The Road Trip word search, crossword were solid, but the kids could only do them once because the knew the answers.
    • The real winner was the Big Kid Highway Quest.  Both of the older kids (7 and 9) loved it, and then they started coming up with ideas of new quests for the next road trip.
  4.  Music/Headphones: Spotify become our best friend in those random stretches of highway with radio silence. If you the ability to connect your phone to your car stereo, they have some awesome, kid-friendly road trip playlists. We also have a video system in our car, so we would make random stops at Redbox and grab kid-friendly movies throughout the trip as rewards for good behavior.

And, finally…

Patience and a Sense of Humor  

The truth is the trip was brutal for both the kids and us adults. It was fun. It was an adventure. But 1300 miles in three days, then 1100 miles in two days is painful for everyone cramped in a car. We never moved as fast as we wanted because my toddler had to pee every five minutes. Then, we had tummy aches, peeing in a cup in a desperate moment in Oklahoma, cranky kids and parents over the course of the day.

But road trips are special. I grew up on them, and our plan is for the kids to grow up on them too. I remember those moments in a car, reading by the headlights of the car behind me while be big brother and little brother slept and my dad sang along to the car in front of me and my mom would hit him on the arm and “play” scold him for being too noisy. Those were special days, and I hope these trips are special to my kids.

Our world is too fast. Our time is too limited. And with technology, it has become harder and harder to find quality time to focus on the family. This road trip forced us to go back to the basics. It’s funny that what was fun for a 7-year old in the mid-80s is just as fun for a 7-year old 30 years later.

So what are you favorite family road trip travel tips?

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