Are We There Yet?:: Tips for Surviving Road Trips with Littles

Summer road trips with littles can be challenging, but with proper planning and preparation, they can be fun and you can arrive at your destination with your sanity intact!

Are We There Yet | Houston Moms Blog

Recently I went on a road trip with my kids…let me be more specific::

Recently I took my nursing 5 month old, two year old, and four year old on a road trip…let me be MORE specific::

Recently, I took my nursing 5 month old, two year old, and four year old on a 20 hour road trip from Texas to Michigan. I survived, and you can too!

With air fare rates continuing to climb, the lure of the open road seems to be at an all time high. You can set your own schedule, stop when you’d like, and not get charged for bringing extra bags. The downside :: tiny kids in a car …for hours.

If you’re thinking of making a road trip {for our purposes, a car trip of 5 hours or longer} with your littles this summer, I have five tips for surviving the journey and maybe even having a little fun too!

1. Don’t Set Your Expectations Too High

Okay, imagine what you think your trip will be like. 

Now lower those expectations. Lower. Looowwwwer. Are you at the point where you hope to just arrive at your destination within 24 hours of your goal? Perfect! Everything positive that happens from there is a big plus!

Traveling with littles is messy, loud, and can be crazy. Yes, I have had to pull over on a highway, because my son opened the door after he, unbeknownst to me, turned off the child safety lock at our last rest stop. Yes, my daughter did gag on a frosted doughnut which caused her to projectile vomit green goo on herself to the point that we just threw away her clothes and bought new ones at Walmart, airing the car out for a good 20 miles. You better believe kids want to use the potty MOST right after you passed the last rest stop within 50 miles. 

In other words, expect to have horror stories to share. This is not the time to watch “The Sound of Music” the night before and see if your children will resemble the Von Trapp family the next day.

2. Invest in Space

If your regular ride is a bit cramped, make an investment and rent a van or larger car for the trip. If your kids are particularly feisty, you’ll want to make sure they are out of arm reach of each other for the journey. Although projectiles do sometimes occur, this will keep the peace for the majority of the time!

3. Pack the Snacks


Girl with road trip snacks

My kids actually get SUPER excited about road trip snacks {as do I}. For ease of the trip, I always buy snacks that are individually wrapped AKA easy to grab and pass. To save extra money, I’ll buy bulk, but package snacks in small portioned baggies that are easy to open and pass. 

Another requirement of snacks that I choose are that they are lower in sugar {because strapped into a car seat is the last place you want your littles to have a sugar rush} and food explosion proof {although to be honest, nearly any snack in the right hands can be exploded all over your car}.

Here are my go-to road snacks {potential for food explosion is marked by an asterisk}.

Additionally, instead of buying drinks on the road, I buy a few gallons of water that we use to refill water bottles on the trip. It helps us save money and keeps our kids from getting sugared up!

4. Pack the Fun

For road trips with littles, I like to pack entertainment activities {both old favorites and new surprises from the Dollar Store} in containers that are easy to reach for my littles. I even reserve special surprises {mostly little trinkets from the Dollar Store} that I’ll give to them throughout the trip to keep things novel. Here’s a list of some of the items I use to fill the activity bins::

  • BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS, {new “Look and Find” books are especially favorites for my kiddos. They are time-consuming and entertaining}. We also recommend books from this list and this list.
  • Activity books from the Dollar Store {connect the dots, mazes, wordsearch, etc.}
  • Magna-Doodles or a variety thereof {mess free fun!!!}
  • Tiny favorite toys {monster trucks especially for my son}
  • Magnetic games {Amazon has a TON.}

In addition to the hands-on fun, make sure to pick music for the road trip! I love downloading the Disney or Disney Parks playlists on Spotify and then playing them for the kids!

For a final note on packing the fun, try your best to put off electronics until the end of your road trip. This works best for my kiddos, because using tablets the whole time can turn my littles into zombies, but if during the last leg of our journey they want to play games, or watch a movie we downloaded for the occasion, that’s usually a great time for it. My favorite tablet for littles is the Amazon Fire!

5. Mind Their Schedule

Sleeping kids on road trip

As best as you can, try to mind your littles’ schedules when you drive. You’ll thank me. If your kids take naps after lunch, like mine do, gas up that car AND GO! Try to cover as much distance as possible while they’re sleeping peacefully. 

Also, if you’re driving into the night, pack their jammies in an accessible bag, change them at a rest stop and go through your bedtime routine as close to normal as possible. This will help to keep them rested {because believe it or not, sitting in a car seat all day is exhausting for them} and keep y’all moving toward your destination.

So there you have it! Five tips to help you keep your sanity and survive those road trips with littles! It can definitely be chaotic, but know that your destination is closer with each mile.

As a final note, if you’re traveling far, make sure to hit up Whataburger one more time before you officially leave Whataburger territory!

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