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Staying Sane on a Road Trip With Kids


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2011-08-01 154

It’s the holidays, and you know what that means: Hallmark movie marathons, mistletoe, and War and Peace-length letters to Santa. And, if you’re like us, road trips to visit family. There’s nothing like being around loved ones this time of year. It’s getting to their house that can be tricky. Especially when it means driving over the river and down the highway — with small people who don’t understand the meaning of “quiet, Mommy’s trying to drive.” If you’re facing a road trip with kids this holiday season, don’t panic! Here are a few simple tips to stay sane and assure that everyone makes it intact to 2018.

Safety First

Nothing ruins a road trip like hanging out waiting for roadside assistance. Before you go, make sure to do any necessary car maintenance. Get an oil change if you need one, make sure the tires are inflated, and deal with any lingering service issues. For great maintenance advice, visit

Snack Attack

I’m all for eating healthy at home, but road trips are about freedom from rules. Did Jack Kerouac eat celery on the road? I have no idea, but I guarantee your kids will be more inclined to see the road trip as an adventure, instead of a multi-hour prison sentence, if they are munching on chips.

What’s New?

I used to bring my kids’ favorite toys and stuffed animals on road trips. That held their attention for about 5 minutes. I quickly learned that only something new could distract them from the fact they were strapped into a moving vehicle with nowhere to go. Before each trip, I bought them new coloring or activity books. That kept them quiet for at least half an hour.

Team Up

Kids fighting and making you want to jump out of the car at 60 miles per hour? Put them on the same team. I try to give my kids a goal, such as “work together to find 20 things on the road that are blue.” While they’re on to my tricks, they still play, and the fighting stops…at least until that twentieth blue thing. To make the game last longer, choose a less obvious visual, such as plaid.

Anyone who says the journey is more important than the destination has never driven six hours with a 3-year-old and a newborn. This holiday season, may your journey be brief, your destination be festive, and your car snacks be potato chips — that someone else cleans up. Happy holidays!


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