Traveling with Children :: What NOT To Do

Hello, Houston mamas! Today we are gonna mix things up and go all “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” with a how-to in reverse. I am sure you are sitting here saying to yourself – “Self, why is this crazy lady fixing to tell me about what not to do while traveling with a child…and how in the world is that helpful?”  My answer – it’s probably not. BUT…perhaps some of you {in a moment of insanity} have found yourself in a similar situation, or you will somewhere down the way, and just maybe this information can be found useful.  Regardless, I promise if you stick with me for a few minutes, if nothing else, you can have a good laugh at my expense.  And it’s Monday. So you probably need a laugh.

So, a little back story for you all. My mom {or MeMaw as we like to call her} came into town for a wedding. But due to a hospital stay for one of my twins, we begged her to extend her trip and stay to help out with our crew. And like any good MeMaw would, she happily obliged. We promised we would pay to get her back home, but when we started looking at airline tickets, it dawned on me that one way tickets last minute don’t come cheap. {Especially when Southwest doesn’t fly where you are headed!} And as a mama of 4 kiddos {which should read the same as B-R-O-K-E}, I needed to think of a way to save money. That is when I clearly went crazy and suggested, “Why don’t we just drive you home. Will has the weekend off, it will be fun!”  Now, you may be asking yourself what sounds so bad about that? Well, I should also mention we were planning our little ‘trip’ in less than 48 hours for a 9 hour drive with 3 children under the age of 3. And two of those children screamed all the way to Lake Conroe {less than an hour drive from home} over the Labor Day Weekend. Are you getting it now?! It was madness.

And now with that, it brings us back to the topic at hand. Here are my tips on what NOT to do when traveling with small children.

  1. Never think it is a good idea for your husband to drive said trip when he is coming off working 2 straight 12 hour shifts in a row. He will be exhausted. And he will almost kill all of you by ‘resting his eyes’ and almost sideswiping an 18 wheeler.
  2. In a last minute trip to Target, never grab the travel coloring system with markers for your toddler without reading it closely first. It will not be the Color Wonder markers you were expecting, nor will they be washable. And you will not find any of this out until said toddler is colored head to toe in neon yellow marker.
  3. Sitting in the back of your minivan to ‘occupy’ your kiddos is never a good idea. The babies that can see you will wonder why in the world you are not taking them out and holding them while they are screaming. And the 3 year old next to you will feel the need to kick, hit, or use any other forms of violence to get your attention so that you can ‘make the bubbas hush’ so she can hear her movie. {Not to mention you aren’t in the front seat to help keep that sleepy husband of yours awake.}
  4. Never pack the movies that annoy you and your husband. It is almost guaranteed that if you bring them, they will be the ONLY movies your children want to watch for the duration of the car ride. And Dora Snow Princess is a movie that no person should have memorized. Trust me.
  5. Never ever leave your child’s lovey that they sleep with EVERY night at home, no matter how much chaos is going on during the last minute packing and preparing. HUGE mom fail on my part. And honestly, she ended up handling it better than I expected. There were still lots of tears, but lovey sent a friend to visit and that saved the day until we could be reunited with our “real flend.”

Aside from the ride pretty much sounding like THIS the whole way, once we arrived we were so happy to be at the beach for a few days and managed to somehow forget the car ride.





…that is of course until we had to pack up 2 days later and do it all over again to head back home. Thankfully, the ride home was a smidge better. Smidge being the husband was well rested and caffeinated, and I had learned my lesson about the whole back seat thing. The markers, Dora, and screaming were out of my control.

Note to future self…spontaneous trips are not your thing.

What are some of your crazy traveling stories? Have you ever had to take a last minute trip with your children where chaos ensued? Please help a mama out and let me know I am not alone in my craziness.

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Michelle is a native Houstonian who resides in the ‘burbs with her own “Full House.” She is the mama to four amazing kiddos, Madisyn {Sept 2003}, Megan {Dec 2009}, and identical twin boys Jack and Liam {Oct 2012}. She is also the wife to one handsome husband Will, who spends his days saving lives at Texas Children’s Hospital, while Michelle spends her days sparing lives at home with her kids. On Michelle’s blog, Chaos and Coffee, she documents her adventures in mommyhood with a busy family of 6 and shares her love of family, faith, HGTV, college football, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. You can also follow her daily chaos and fun on Twitter and Instagram {@michellebtanner}.


  1. I love me a good anti-tutorial! Haha. You folks are brave souls for driving this far twice in 48 hours. I mean, seriously. I would be so nervous to do that with one toddler, let alone 3 under 3! Glad y’all had a fun time on your trip, nonetheless!

  2. I’m so glad you got some much needed time at the beach even if it was crazy getting there! Thanks for the tips we will be sure not to follow in your footsteps. Love you flend!

  3. Uh, you might want to re-check Megan’s age. She’s almost 4, my friend! That trip really did a number on you, huh? lol It’s a miracle you came back alive!

  4. Haha, I’m glad you all survived! We luckily haven’t had to do a last minute trip, but we’ve made a number of 6 hour trips to visit the in-laws in the Hill Country. How did parents survive before portable DVD players and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?

  5. My boys aren’t travelers. They are the typical “are we there yet? I’m hungry ! I need to potty! I’m tired of being in this car!” Glad y’all survived and enjoyed the beach. My bit of advice is to travel at night so hopefully they sleep.

  6. You sure do have some cuties! I’m with ya on sitting in the backseat. I always feel like it will be a good idea until we are stuck in traffic on I-10 and I’m trying to wiggle my momma self back to the front over the center console!


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