WFMW: My Best Travel Tips with Kids

Tuesday August 25, 2009

Many folks have blogged about their tips for roadtripping with kids.  I know because I read many of them as I prepared for our big New England adventure.   Now that we’re back, I’ll share a few of the things worked for me.

Travel Time – Leave early, or leave late.

Our drive time North was going to be at least 10 hours, so we packed the night before and made sure we were on the road before 5am.   It’s a bummer to leave before Starbucks is open, but it works well for our family.   The kids wake up to leave, but they are in such a daze, they usually zone out and fall back asleep for a while.   I can usually get 3 or 4 solid hours in before they know what’s hit them.

On the way home, we did the late shift.   We left Maine around 3:30pm, drove for 2 hours, then stopped for dinner (I located a Chipotle on our route and it made it our destination).  After eating, we changed the kids into jammies, put in a book on cd and hit the road.   They conked out between 7:30pm and 9pm, and then we were free to book it home.   We got in around 1:30am, which was late, but at least we all got some sleep.   We planned our return travel for a Saturday eve, which meant we still had Sunday to recover.    Traffic was a breeze, whereas Sunday travel on I-95 can be a bear.


Everyone I know has a portable dvd system for road trips.   We never did, I always managed to borrow for a friend, but this year, I broke down and bought one.  It worked well – I put my two older kids in the back of the car and mounted the system on the middle seat in the middle row.    This allowed them to both watch and it meant the player wasn’t strapped to the back of MY seat, blaring in *my* ear. I made that mistake last year.

Another attention holder has been books on cd.   For this trip, we brought the Chronicles of Narnia with us and it has been awesome.  This full cast production, put out by Focus on the Family is an incredible recording.    My 4yo doesn’t quite have the attention span for it, but my 5yo is riveted  (as are hubs & I).   We do have to pause quite a bit to explain things, but it is worth it.

Other audio entertainment I would endorse is the Little House on the Prairie audio books, and also the Classical Kids series (aka Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mr. Bach Comes to Call, etc.) The Classical Kids cds feature a composer and tell a story about his life, intermixing it with the music.  It’s a great way to introduce kids to classical music.

Travel Toys

There are all kinds of suggestions for what to bring for the kids, I’ll link to some in a moment, but here’s two we had success with:


I had heard the bubble trick works and  it does!  My 1.5 year old  instantly quit grumping and would say “Buh-ba!” everytime the bubbles started blowing.   Of course, it can be tiresome to turn halfway around in your seat and blow bubbles, but then we discovered that the AC vent is a far better bubble blower than us.

I highly recommend the bubbles.

Treasure Bottle

When I read about the treasure bottle idea, I knew I had to do it.   I found a bunch of tiny little doo dads (paper clips, watch batteries, push pins, pennies, etc.)  and spread them out on a paper.   Then, I took a picture of all the items on a paper, then added the items to an empty water bottle, along with rice to hide them.    I super glued the lid on, and printed out the picture of the “treasure”.     I made three of these for our trip.   My older two had fun searching for the items and crossing them off their list.   The “baby” had fun just shaking the bottle to make noise.

I probably spent longer on this than I should have, but it was a fun little past time and I felt proud of my crafty toy.  Plus it was sooo satisfying to give purpose to all that annoying crap you keep in your junk drawer even though you never use it.

Other Ideas

Honestly, I got most of my ideas from another WFMW posting:

We Are That Family’s Traveling With Kids Suggestions

The other site I would recommend is Mom’s Minivan.  There are a ton of ideas there, for traveling with babies, toddlers, and older kids.

Having survived two 10 plus hour road trips (up and back) with three kids, five and under, I can definitely say these travel tips work for me.

This post inspired by the “Works for Me Wednesday” series at We Are THAT Family.

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2 Responses to WFMW: My Best Travel Tips with Kids

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    mombrud says:

    Thanks for the great tips! We have a tradition of visits from the “road trip fairy” I wrote about it here
    It has worked for us!

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