Summer = Road Trips.

Over the last 13 years, our family has taken 1-2 long road trips a year. In 2016, we drove from Southern California to Vancouver, BC. Through trial and error I have mastered the chaos of long car rides with 4 kids. Here are my hacks (I saved the best one for last):

  1. Individual Snack Bags.  In 1 hour you can expect a child to at least once declare, “Mom, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?” Multiply that by 4 kids over an 8 hour drive. I’m not good with math but that is a lot of “Mom, I’m hungry-s” which results in my neck hurting from turning around and throwing a snack to the back seat. Not anymore! Each child now gets their own snack bag OR a large bag per row of seats. Don’t ask Mom for a snack again! Don’t forget to include the drinks in there as well. I give them 1 fun drink (juice) and a water.
  2. Small Ice Chest. We have a small ice chest that fits between our front and middle row seats. We pack healthy snacks, lunches, and drinks.
  3. Trash Bags Per Child/Row. A zillion snacks eaten during the hours in the car results in way too much trash. Why do kids throw trash on the ground??? Or maybe by some small miracle they will announce “Mom, here is my trash.” Nope! No more neck pain or trash on the ground. You have your own trash bag. If you don’t use it, there will be a price to pay (enter The Evil Mom laugh) FYI Target bags work great!
  4. Car Sick/Stomach Flu Essentials. Be prepared. It happens. Only took it happening once to us to make sure we were prepared the next time. A kid throwing up in the back seat of the van without a bag is just going to make a miserable trip. Again, Target bags have proven to be most effective in catching barf. To be safe you may want to double bag it. Wipes and sanitizer are a must.
  5. Toy Backpacks. Now that my kids are older, I instruct them to pack a few toys or items they want to play with on the drive. When they take out an item, it goes straight back into their backpack which leads me to #6.
  6. Limit Clutter. Clutter makes me very irritable. Whether it’s in my house or in my car, the result is the same = Irritable Mom. Everything should have a place. Snack bags, play bags, everything should be in a bag.
  7. Potty Breaks at Rest Stops. Gas Station Convenience Stores are like Disneyland. My kids LOVE to go to the Gas Station. They want every candy, chip, soda, and lame little toy they can find. Enter Mean Mom who has to say no a million times to all their requests. What should have been a quick 10 minute stop is now approaching 30 minutes and everyone is crying because they didn’t get skittles, a large ICEE, and a wind up plastic duck. Rest Stops have nothing exciting; go in, do your business, let’s be on our way. From our experience, they are pretty well maintained and usually cleaner than gas stations.
  8.  Small Pillow and Blanket. Let’s be real, we all want our kids to sleep on those long drives…awww peace and quiet. Making them cozy makes it a lot easier for that to happen. Bed Bath and Beyond has these great travel pillows . Let’s not pretend that those ones that go around your neck are actually comfortable.
  9. Easy On and Off Shoes. My kids have a talent for taking off their shoes SO fast when they get in the car. Then they announce they have to use the restroom and we arrive at the rest stop but they still need to get their shoes on. Ummmm no! Flip Flops for the win! Let’s get back on the road. They fit perfect in the seat pockets so they won’t disappear in the car. I love a simple Old Navy Flip Flop for travel.

10. Car Charger.  GAME CHANGER: It is all about electronic handheld devices these days. The kids want to play on their IPAD’s and Phones and watch NetFlix. I highly recommend these car chargers with 6 charging ports. Everyone is plugged in, no devices dying, and the drive is nice and quiet. Don’t forget your long chargers though and headphones for everyone.

What’s your best survival tip for long car rides? Comment below.

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