10 Sanity Saving Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

Does the idea of a road trip excite you or stress you out? For me, its a little of both. As many of you know, we are hoping to take an epic adventure this summer so we are trying to gather as many tips and tricks as we can into one place for our Guide to Road Tripping.

Surviving Long Road Trips with Kids

Hi! This is Karen, from SpoilMyFamily! I am so excited to be able to share my family’s road trip hacks with you here on Lemon Lime Adventures!! Dayna has been such an inspiration to me and Lemon Lime Adventures was one of the first blogs I ever read – even before I knew exactly what a blog was. Dayna was a huge part of my inspiration to start my own blog. So having a post appear here on Lemon Lime Adventures is a great honor for me! *Deep Breath*

10 Sanity Saving Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids

Kids Packing Kit with Packing Lists Printable

First Tips first: Logistical Operations

1. Packing List: I always make a list for the boys’ clothes and have them collect what they want. For my younger son, I draw pictures (if you can call them that) of each item of clothing with a number next to them. My older son helps him collect everything that he needs. My oldest gets a packing list written out for what he needs. He loves this – it’s his operation; he’s in charge and he takes it seriously and executes it with precision. My younger loves getting to pick all his own things. His selections always make for interesting fashion statements – or misstatements. Start this several days prior to departure – distractions are likely.

2. Departure Scheduling: We didn’t know how far we would get the first day – but we were hoping to make the second day a short one. We planned a 5:00 a.m. departure. I figured we could lift the boys sleeping from their beds directly into the car seats and have them sleep two more hours. Then I figured I would give them breakfast and that would get us through the next hour really easily. Not. Happenin.’ They were so excited, they weren’t going back to sleep. Breakfast was served at 5:07. The first day is filled with excitement and anticipation of everything to come. USE THAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! We made it twelve hours the first day with a very strict – we only stop at restrooms under emergency circumstances rule. No leg stretching. Nada. Trust me. The second day will hit and they will much more accurately comprehend the restrictive nature of the car.

So. How did we keep those sweet minds occupied for twelve hours the first day?

3. Individual Baskets: The boys couldn’t wait to get their hands on these – they had been kept a secret. In retrospect, probably one of the reasons they didn’t go back to sleep. Each got a basket with small toys, picture books, reading books, hand fidgets, printables for coloring, and trinkets for them to play with. It doesn’t take much – think Dollar Store. There were also several really special things that I included for each. First, Uncle Aaron’s Thinking Putty. This stuff is amazing – there are magnetic versions, glow in the dark versions, you name it. It’s a stress ball, theraputty, or simply a squeeze toy. Spoiler alert: if you think your children may drop Uncle Aaron’s putty on the carpet in your car, I would disregard this suggestion entirely. Uncle Aaron could easily have named it “Uncle Aaron’s sticky, I will never, no never ever, come up off your carpet putty.” Next, each boy got a DK “Factivity” book. These books have so many pages, so many stickers, things to draw and activities in general – they were great. They were perfect for my six year old – some of the activities that required reading were beyond my three year old, but he still loved the book.

4. Suction Cups: I found inexpensive containers that attached to the car window with suction cups. I put crayons and colored pencils in the cups. They were easy for the boys to reach and kept things (somewhat) neat and orderly.

5. Lap Trays: I gave each boy a lap tray to use for coloring and anything they would want a desk-like surface for. The legs folded down and they slid easily beside the seat for storage when not needed.

6. Books on Tape: HOURS of entertainment. ‘Nuff said. Get them. Just do it.

Next Line of Attack: What did we do to address those fidgety bodies? (Remember, NO extra stops the first day!)

Handee Band

7. Stretch Exercise Bands: I bought the circular kind – not the strip kind. These take up next to no space and were useful on so many levels. Arm stretches with resistance were great. They could put them around their ankles and pull. They tried to each take one end of one and pull against one another. That didn’t seem like the best idea. I squashed it. But otherwise, good.

8. Protein: Each basket had some special snacks for the boys that were treats. But I know that keeping them steady with enough protein throughout the day is really key to helping them through. Try to add in a ham roll up, strip of turkey bacon, or something occasionally to keep blood sugars steady and boys not grouchy.

9. Fidgets: Again, in the baskets, I had some fun fidgets! They were just simple things to occupy their hands: links, magnetic puzzles, stretchy hand fidgets – each boy had a variety and they were different so that they could be traded.

10. Activity Wrap Up: I did keep some things from their “baskets” so that I had new and interesting things to rotate into the mix a couple of times during the first day and again on the morning of the second day. Don’t shoot your entertainment wad all at once. I also kept a few tiny things in a secret place in the back of the car for the return trip home.

*Bonus: I didn’t include the tried and true. Of course, we played eye spy, find something _____(blue, or whatever…), search for all the trucks, knock knock jokes, you name it. And then, of course, I’m always thankful for a good DVD 🙂 Or more.

All of these hacks worked really well for us. We made it twelve hours the first day. And learned that eleven hours is pretty much everyone’s breaking point. The next day, though, was a breeze – only about four hours. It was well worth pushing hard the first day, although that won’t work for everyone. If you’d like to come read about how we stayed sane for the OTHER 38 days, come check out the post on my site!

What are your best tips, tricks, and hacks for keeping everyone sane during a long road trip?

Tips for surviving Brutally long road trips with kids

Did You Miss Yesterday’s Tips in the Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping?

Simple one Step Cleaning Hack for the Car

Karen Patten is a former attorney turned stay at home mom to two amazing boys. Karen enjoys learning about health and wellness and sharing all she’s learned. On her blog, Spoil My Family, you will find all things wellness – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Join Karen’s ongoing search for simplicity in a complicated world by connecting with her on both the blog and social media channels, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

The Ultimate Road Trip

We don’t take vacations. No, scratch that… we avoid vacations. The term “vacation” should instill release, comfort, hope and so many other feelings, however in our home it is quite the opposite which is probably why we haven’t taken a family vacation since we got married. However, when the idea of traveling in an RV was mentioned, all of our ears started to perk up. Family vacation might actually be possible. Family vacation might actually be a dream come true.

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Now for the fun part! You can send me and my family on our dream adventure! Just for voting EACH DAY you are also included in a drawing for $500. How fun would that be to use towards anything you want? So what do you say?

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Can you help me? Better yet, Why don’t you go with us! Well, virtually at least! I plan to blog about tips, strategies and adventures of traveling with a child with sensory needs. I hope to build a wonderful resource for all of us trying to figure this adventure out together! In the comments, tell me you favorite sensory friendly stop or tip along the route!


Discover how to get siblings to get along even when all they do is annoy each other with the Sibling “Get Along” Poster Pack!

3 thoughts on “10 Sanity Saving Tips for Surviving a Long Road Trip with Kids”

  1. Pingback: Epic Road Trip with Two Boys and a Spaniel - Spoil My Family

  2. this is all such great information! Pinning and sharing! I especially love the basket idea and the suction cups and lap trays. And the books on tape!

  3. Pingback: Simple Tips for Traveling with an Active Toddler - Lemon Lime Adventures

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