Sanity Saving Road Trip Tips for Traveling with Kids

After logging over 20,000 miles in less than two years, I am ready to call myself a subject matter expert on taking road trips with kids. My husband and I have suffered through bouts of projectile vomiting, toddler bickering, and hours of Yo¬†Gabba¬†Gabba¬†music listening so that you can save your sanity next time you travel with your kids. These are our family’s guaranteed,¬†tried and true¬†methods of making road trips with babies (gasp!) enjoyable.

Bring the iPad

I know not everyone has one but many of you do (or it’s equivalent). Leave the guilt at home and BRING IT! I cannot stress it enough. We have a behind the driver seat holder we place it in. Both kids can watch it comfortably (when they were rear-facing we used the holder on the headrest of the seat the¬†car seat¬†was on).

Fill it up with as many movies and TV shows as it will hold. This has stopped crazy car crying spells dead in their tracks. Trust me when it’s dark and you’re on who knows what highway in the middle of¬†Podunkville¬†there are few other options. You’re tired. They’re tired. Turn on the soothing sounds of Sesame Street and enjoy a few moments of near silence.

Plan (most) Stops Ahead

We do our best to map out our pit stops ahead of time. We try to choose our route according to the number of kid friendly stops along the way. It isn’t always easy, possible, or efficient but it always makes for a more pleasant ride. The kids enjoy having something to look forward to. Going to Grandma’s is fun but knowing that they’ll get to play at a park, go nuts at a Chuck E. Cheese, or visit¬†a kid’s museum¬†on the way motivates them to tolerate the car ride. I also enjoy the break. The stops add more time to the trip but we have a ton of fun so it’s well worth it. Pit stops are also awesome¬†picture¬†taking¬†opportunities and are an excellent way to add to the road trip or vacation photo album.

Pack Strategically

Our SUV is usually filled to the brim with stuff. Watching my husband fill up the truck is pretty entertaining. It’s like a real live game of¬†Tetris.¬†Accessability¬†is key. If your kid comes down with a bout of car sickness you want a towel and a fresh change of clothes within reach. I’ve been there more times than I can count. I also bring an¬†Ikea¬†smock to toss over him if I hear any¬†retching. I’ve got it down to a science.

Make sure paper towels, a change of clothes, entertainment, car friendly snacks, and anything else you¬†may¬†need are within reach or easily accessible. It’s a total pain to stop at rest stop after rest stop and combing through the car looking for cheddar bunnies while your kids wail away in the back seat. Trust me.

Do you have any sanity saving road trip ticks to share?

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Veronica Armstrong is a stay at home mother and freelance writer. She lives with her husband and two small children in Cornell University graduate student housing while her husband studies for his MBA. She blogs at about her adventures in natural motherhood, temporary Vermont hiatus, and life as an MBA wife. Veronica is also a hobbyist photographer that likes to express herself through captures of her ordinary and beautifully hectic life. Maple bacon donuts bring her unbridled joy and coffee is her best friend.

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2 Comments on "Sanity Saving Road Trip Tips for Traveling with Kids"

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Beka Powell

Its helpful to have little prizes for each hour of travel or landmark you pass (have extras, you never know how long the trip may turn out to be). If behavior is good at each hour or landmark give them a little reward like a candy necklace, new coloring book or something that will entertain them a little longer. Gives them something to look forward to and incentive to be nice to their siblings!


Thank you for the tips! I’m about to drive from DC to Western NY with a 2 month old and a 2 year (without daddy!) Can you share which “behind the seat holder” you like for the tablet?