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3 Secrets of Peaceful Family Summer Road Trips

The following post is from Kat of Inspired To Action:


Family Road Trips…

Ah… the hallowed family summer road trip. Historical markers, PBJ sandwiches at rest stops, station wagons, sweaty legs on scorching leather upholstery and the imaginary line that ran down the middle of the backseat.

Now, it’s our turn to keep this tradition alive. It’s our turn to say things from the front seat like, “Don’t make me come back there.” It’s our turn to stop at every. single. historical marker on Hwy 66.

It’s our turn to make family memories. Here are a few tips I’ve learned in the last 9 years to make our trips more peaceful.

Secret #1 – Keep the Action Coming


Kids act up in the car because they are bored. If you have little ones with short attention spans, make sure you keep the action coming.

Our Example
When we went on a 12 hour road trip, to keep things fun for the kids, I planned 12 little surprises and 12 snacks/drinks. Then I staggered their delivery. So, every 30 minutes they could get a snack or one of the surprises.

The surprises were super simple. Most of the toys were items I found in the house that I knew they hadn’t played with in awhile. (After 3 hours in the car ANY toy besides the 5 you’ve played with for the last 180 minutes are pretty exciting.) I also assembled some drawing sets and Lego sets. Occasionally, I’ll buy a new inexpensive toy to throw in for fun.

I wrapped all the surprises up in brown paper bags and put them in a basket.

I also portioned out snacks into individual servings and put them in another basket.

I told the older kids that each hour they could earn a surprise by getting along nicely. If they are old enough to argue, they are old enough to have to earn them. Babies can get one each hour, regardless.

Each hour they could also have a little snack. So between the snack and the surprise, something was happening every thirty minutes, which kept things exciting on our long drive out of Texas.

And, honestly, they were so entertained and occupied we didn’t get to several of the surprises until our return trip. Another key, is that if they ask more than once if it’s time for their surprise, they have to wait an extra five minutes. That helps them focus on what they have to play with, instead of what is coming next.

Secret #2 – Audiobooks

Audiobooks are brilliant for road trips. They allow everyone to enjoy the scenery while still being engaged in an imaginative story. They are also helpful for kids who are prone to car sickness and might have a hard time watching a movie.

I love audiobooks because I don’t need to limit them. If we let our kids watch movies in the car they’d ask for them much more often than I’d want to let them watch. But they can listen to as many audiobooks as they’d like.

We love Adventures in Odessey and Little House on the Prairie because they’re entertaining for boys, girls, and parents.

Secret # 3 – Ziplock Bags


One of the most helpful things I’ve done for our family vacations is plan out the kids clothes and then put them into ziploc bags for each day. I’ll then write the name and day of the vacation it is to be worn (i.e. day 1, day 2, day 3). These bags can be reused year after year.

When we’re all getting ready for the day, the myriad of kids socks, swimsuits, pj’s and such can be really frustrating. It can also be challenging if the kids see an outfit they want to wear that day but it doesn’t work well for your planned activity.

The bags remove that frustration. For my youngest I just pulled out his bag for the day and got him dressed. My older kids easily found their bag and got dressed themselves.

I realize it might sound a bit over the top, but if you’re trying to limit your luggage and pack multiple family members clothes in one bag, it’s a lifesaver.

Manage Your Expectations

Finally, one thing that has really allowed us to enjoy our family road trips so much more is to change our expectations. Prior to children, vacations were about rest, quiet and relaxation. Those three words aren’t particularly synonymous with small children. So, now, our focus is on fun. We might get snippets of rest and relaxation, but if we hope for togetherness and fun, it’s always a success.

Our motto is, “It’s not a vacation, it’s an adventure.”

What is your tip for peaceful family summer road trips?

Kat blogs at Inspired To Action, a site dedicated to helping moms develop the habits and skills they need to effectively manage their homes and raise children who are prepared to change the world. Kat loves music, running, technology, Jesus and Tex-Mex food. Not necessarily in that order.