Roads trips with Kids–Here’s what you REALLY need

My social media feeds are full of kids posing with bookbags and lunchboxes, about to head back for their first day of school. My kids just got changed out of pajamas because I yelled at them. We still have a few weeks left of summer break, and have yet to take our annual family vacation. One week from today, we hit the road. We used to fly, but it seemed we caught the plague every time we did and the convenience of quick travel wasn’t work four people puking in a car on the way home from the airport.

We stick with road trips. Which means we’re healthier, but we have a lot of free time to fill to keep the “are we there yet?”s at bay.

Now, whether you’re already sending the kids back to the hallowed halls of education, or you’ve still got time left to serve on this summer sentence, eventually, you’re going to find yourselves in a car with kids for a prolonged period of time. I’ve read shitloads of articles on how to “keep kids busy”, and other ones on “fun car games for families”- because why not make something mundane fun if at all possible, but the one common thread I’ve found in these articles is that they are all completely full of shit.

Just telling the parents to take along movies, assortments of snacks, coloring books, and to try playing the ol’ Alphabet game is. not. adequate. It takes us TWO days to get to Disney World (it’d take one if we decided to drive the full 13 in one sitting but HAHAHAHAHAHA HELL NO) and we go every year, if not more than once a year. Trust me when I tell you that these things alone do not work. They will not keep your kids occupied. And for SOME kids, these tips are downright detrimental to everyone’s health & wellbeing.

It’s time we accept that traveling with kids has changed. No, we don’t have teleportation yet, and (at the time of writing) the hyperloop has yet to be given the go-ahead, but long gone are the days where road trips consist of an old Gameboy (if we were lucky) that only lasted an hour, and being able to roam about the oversied minivan freely, taking naps lying down, and car games that took up hours of time. My kids fight over Eye Spy.

Here’s how I arm myself for long car trips (and yes, I consider it arming myself):

  1. Yes you will need snacks, but you need, like… all the snacks. Every single snack there is. And still, none of them will be what your kids want. I like to take every snack in the house and empty them into a giant Tupperware. When the kids get hungry I pass it back and say “PICK OUT WHAT YOU WANT”- shuts them up for at least a few minutes and there’s at least a slight chance they’ll find something to appease them.
  2. Sure, coloring books and books are great… if your kid doesn’t get motion sickness from reading in the car. So #2 on my list isn’t really “books”- it’s barf bags. Just in case.
  3. Best investment I EVER made was buying portable DVD players since our car ain’t fancy enough to have them in the backs of the headrest already. Digital copies and blu rays are all well and good, but they’re not gonna help you on long car trips. DVDS ARE LIFE.
  4. Headphones. For you. Unless you’re driving. Then you’re screwed. Embrace the Disney car sing-alongs, since you can’t watch the damn movies, you can only hear them.
  5. If you’re going to let the kids talk you into bringing toys, make sure they are big enough not to get lost for 6 months under car seats. You don’t want to find toys that have been under car seats for 6 months. Trust me.
  6. Definitely not ANY TOY THAT MAKES ANY KIND OF NOISE unless you like seeing them act as projectiles out of your car windows.
  7. Car adapters. Your batteries WILL RUN OUT. Life doesn’t run on double A anymore.


I’d say to wish me luck, but I think we could all probably use it. May the force be with all of us.

Posted on August 15, 2017 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment
Holdin' Holden

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1 Comment

  • How well I remember putting the kids in, and *maybe* they would wear a seat belt. Long before keeping a kid in a car seat until they are 16! I now have 2 grandkids, 4 and 16. The 4 year old watches utube, the 16 year old sleeps. So, we mostly have 2-3 hour trips. Glad I am not you. LOL