Thursday, December 13, 2012

Road Trip Tricks

  Living in the DC area, we live within driving distance of some pretty awesome cities, so we go on road trips a lot.  Our kids are just good travelers, but there are also some tricks that I've learned.  (Flying not driving?)
  • Eat healthy snacks
    • Don't use trips as an excuse to eat a lot of junk food.  It just makes everyone feel sick and grumpy.  Because there is (at least for us) a tendency to want to just snack the whole time, bring lots and lots of carrot and celery sticks, and even peppers, green beans and baby cucumbers if your kids will snack on those, as well as sliced apples (to make them more snackable), oranges, other fruit, raw nuts, dried fruit, and a few crackers or pretzels.  Plan on one fun treat as a reward for good behavior :).  Stopping for ice cream is much more fun than eating candy for hours.  Here's another good list of healthy snacks.
  • Don't stop at restaurants, stop at playgrounds!
    • There are playgrounds in every city.  Don't look for fast food, plug "park" into your gps and see what you come up with.  Then run around, with the kids!  
  • Because you will need real meals if you're driving long enough, pack real food.  We like to either use something we've made beforehand, or get a delicious pre-fab meal from Trader Joe's, and either warm it up on the way (those big gas stations always have microwaves), or warm it before you go and keep it warm on the way.  
  • Sit by the baby
  • Limit the technology.
    • Just like with junk food, you can over do it with technology on a road trip, and it can make everyone feel sick and grumpy.  Save it for the end of the day when it's dark, and keep it to one movie/turn on the _____.
  • Load up on tons of new library books before you go.
  • Bring books on tape.  
    • If your kids are young, there are most likely picture books on tape at your library that your kids can bring and follow along.  Try out the Mercy Watson series; it's a lot of fun.
  • Give presents
    • Although a 1$ toy goes against most of what I believe when it comes to children's toys, I realized that it's a great investment for a car trip.  Go to the thrift store, or the $1 area in Target.  You'll find all kinds of things!  A little bag of gummy lizards will go a long way on a road trip.  And because it was $1, it's disposable!  The investment was in a happy trip, not the toy.  
All this was just $5 at the thrift store!
  • If you're worried about the mess from drawing utensils, get a doodle pad (keep your eyes out at the thrift store).
  • Sing lots of songs
  • Bring plenty of fun music.
  • Play car games with your kids, like "I spy," "20 Questions" (minus the 20 question limit) or the license plate game if they're old enough.  There are lots of online lists too.
  • Be creative and have fun!
What are your road trip tips?


  1. Great tips Ariel! Don't forget patterned sweat pants. Ideally floral, though pink patches are comfy too. Also brightly colored sunglasses.

    I'm glad to know Andrew is a happier traveler these days. Great photo!

  2. This is a great post!! I agree wholeheartedly about the food. Before Joe and I knew as much as we do now, we moved across the country when I was 6 months pregnant. Eating gas station, and fast food for a week... I felt so gross and swollen. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! No thank you.

    Everyone pictured above look amazing, Meredith :)

  3. Good list Ariel! I need to add all those things to a packing list so I can make sure not to forget as I so often do when we're running out the door.

    Don't forget that fanny packs go great with sunglasses and are a definite car trip/vacation must!