family travels off the beaten path

Tips for Surviving the Long Haul Family Road Trip

Tips for Surviving the Long Haul Family Road Trip

Oh, the holiday season. It brings out the best cookie recipes from friends and neighbors, but also the long and let’s be honest, sometimes dreaded road trip with your kids to visit family for the holidays. This holiday season, similar to many previous holidays, we crossed 3 states and drove for 12+ hours to reach our destination for the holidays…and have lived to tell about it. Here’s our top tips to survive the long haul family road trip.

Tips for Surviving a Long Haul Road Trip with Kids

  1. Break the trip up into 2 days. I’ll just start with this one right off the bat. Don’t think you should power through. This is never a good idea when traveling with kids. Always opt for breaking the trip up and having a night at a hotel. Preferably one with a pool a free breakfast, because, let’s be completely honest, those are the highlights when you are a kid. Bonus points if you find one that has a manager’s special dinner or cocktail hour! Pro tip: We typically book through booking.com or hotels.com so we can earn rewards towards future hotel stays.
  2. Pack {healthy} snacks. Parenting truth: kids are hungry ALL the freaking time. The moment we leave our house, our kids are asking for a snack, even though we literally finished breakfast 39 minutes ago. When we’re heading out on a long haul road trip, there is a mini cooler and tote bag packed with chilled and pantry style snacks. Everything is portioned into individual servings – while this takes a bit of planning while at home and getting ready for said long haul road trip, it sure does make life easier. Need a snack? Now we can easily offer graham crackers, sliced bell peppers or cubes of cheese ready to go. Pro tip: Keep your cool and pantry snacks separate when you pack, that makes it easy to carry a small cooler into your hotel. Bonus pro tip: Always, find a hotel that has a fridge so you can keep everything chilled.
  3. Scrap Paper + Pencils…the world’s greatest “keep you busy” product.  So if your kids are anything like ours, they are complaining they are bored by the time you reach the edge of your neighborhood. In fact, I think this past road trip resulted in the rhythmic whine from the backseat of “I’m booooooored” before we crossed the edge of our driveway. Packing some scrap paper from our recycling bin, allows us to create instant fun and games simply by spitting out whatever is on the tip of our tongue. For the next 5 minutes, Child A is hunting for RED cards, Child B you are searching for WHITE cars. Whoever has the most gets to pick the first rest area!!
  4. Free School Worksheets. Our girls go to public school and love it. It is AMAZING to me sometimes that some of the best entertainment we get on road trips or flying somewhere is actually me printing out worksheets for each of their grade levels for math, spelling, writing or reading. It is awesome. We spent over an hour on math worksheets in the middle of our 11 hour drive this week as the kids happily sorted out time telling, addition and subtraction worksheets as we drove through central Washington and Idaho. Here’s where I grabbed ours from (math) (reading) (spelling)
  5. Don’t be afraid to bust out a movie. We all hear the debates on screen time and how much each of our kids should get almost daily on social media. Too much, too little, keep it away, turn it on! When tackling a long haul road trip with kids, let’s be completely honest — a movie can be a game changer. 4 hours into our drive, our toddler was getting edgy from sitting in her carseat for what feels like forever, and our older daughters were nearing complete melt down stage. Clearly it was time for a great movie on the iPad mounted between the two front seats and all of a sudden, my husband and I are having an adult conversation and munching on Red Vines and Chex Mix. Winning!
  6. Tech free time can still be fun (and quiet) time. We’ve shared our favorite tech free activities for toddlers on planes and we’ll vouch for all of them as awesome choices for a long haul family road trip as well.

Tips for Surviving a Long Haul Road Trip with Kids