9 Smart Road Trip Tricks for Surviving Car Travel With Kids

Judy Dutton | Jul 15, 2014 Big Kid

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Family road trips can be disasters waiting to happen. Between carsick kids, sibling spats, and incessant "Are we there yet?" whining, traveling with kids in tow is enough to make any mom swear off these jaunts for good. But what to do if a road trip is unavoidable? We found real tips for making it through the next trip to visit Grandma (who lives out of state) or Disneyland (whyyyyyy?), because the best course of action is planning. Deep breath -- let's do this!

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Since driving is often the only logical way to get to the beach, amusement park, campground, or any other family fun–oriented point B, we figured we'd ask some moms with plenty of car travel under their belts for their best family road trip tips. Because hey, it's better than letting them watch DVDs for six hours (and really, does that ever work?). Not to mention it keeps our kids from fighting with each other -- and we all know that is the real goal of any good traveling tip. So for those who are trying to keep their cool before the next family vacation, why not keep these nine stress-reducing tricks handy before the next outing on the open road?

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Read on for more tips and tricks and let us know which ones really work!

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  • Leave right before bed (or nap) time

    1

    The logic here is simple: Kids can't whine, fight, or otherwise cause trouble when they're asleep. So consider leaving right before they're about to doze off, and you've got a quiet, relaxing trip ahead.

  • Bring sticky notes

    2

    Your kids will love drawing on sticky notes and sticking them everywhere -- the seat, the window, each other. Hours of entertainment with fairly easy cleanup! 

  • Pack mess-free snacks

    3

    Crumbly cookies, chips, and crackers will end up all over your car. Instead, consider chewy granola bars, dried fruit, grapes, and anything bite-sized. 

  • Give them clear beverages

    4

    Sprite, seltzer, and water all have one thing in common: If they spill, they won't ruin your leather seats as much as a jug of fruit punch.

  • Put their scooters in the trunk

    5

    For the bit of space they take up, scooters can be lifesavers both along the way AND once you reach your destination. Kids can burn off all that extra energy they've built up sitting in a car. 

  • Pack bubbles for pit stops

    6

    Along the same lines as the scooters (but better for the younger set), bring a few containers of bubbles for stops along the way. A great way to encourage little ones to run around and get some energy out.

  • Dress your kids in bright colors

    7

    That way if your kids wander off at a crowded rest stop, bright colored-shirts make them easy to spot. Matching shirts are even better.

  • Bring headphones

    8

    If your kids do end up watching a movie, do yourself a favor and bring headphones. That way, you won't have to listen to "Let It Go" for the hundredth time.

  • Book a hotel with a pool

    9

    If you're staying at a hotel overnight, make sure it has a pool. That way, the kids can splash around and expend their pent-up energy while you kick back poolside and relax.

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