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How to Keep Your Sanity on Road Trips with the Kids

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I have fond memories of road trips as a kid. We'd pack up the car, hit the open road and wind up somewhere new and exciting. Now that I'm an adult with kids of my own, road trips can be a little stressful. We've had our fair share of hair-pulling incidents and backseat arguments. After lots of trial and error, we figured out how to make our trips less stressful and how to keep our sanity.

Pack Lots of Food – And I Mean Lots of Food

We always pack a lot of food for our road trips. Food keeps the kids from getting cranky (or "hangry") and it also saves us from having to hit the drive-thru or a gas station convenience store.

Food also keeps the kids busy and content for a little while.

We usually pack more than we need and do our best to keep it healthy. Sugary foods will only add to the problem and make the kids even more antsy.

We like to pack:

  • Apples

  • Granola bars

  • Sandwiches

  • Popcorn

  • Almonds

  • Grapes

  • Cheese sticks

  • Crackers

  • Yogurt and blueberries

  • Turkey jerky

  • Wraps with veggies and hummus

Also, I like to keep the food bags up by me. If I let the kids have free rein of the food, it will be gone within the first 30 minutes of driving.

Rent a Van

If your budget allows, do yourself a favor and rent a van for the trip. Not only do you not have to worry about wear and tear on the family car, but you can also enjoy a more comfortable trip.

Don't get me wrong, car rentals can add a few hundred dollars to the cost of your trip, but there are some perks and benefits to going this route.

We found that the kids also loved getting to ride in a bigger, newer car.

Use Open Bags

Some families prefer to keep their car essentials in backpacks or duffle bags. But I've found that it's so much easier to use open tote bags. Everything is easily accessible to the kids, so they don't have to rummage through bags to find what they need.

Books, travel games, pencils and other supplies can easily fit into these bags, and their tall height keeps everything from toppling out of the bag when we're on the road.

Make the Car Comfortable

Sitting for long periods of time in the car can get a little uncomfortable. We like to make the car as comfortable as possible for the kids (without compromising safety). We pack pillows and a few throw blankets so that the kids can rest their heads and snuggle.

We also have the kids wear pajamas or comfortable clothes.

The comfort factor actually goes a long way in keeping the kids content and happy while we're driving.

Stop Regularly

Gone are the days when you can drive 12 hours straight without taking a break. Make regular stops for bathroom breaks, to eat and to give the kids a chance to stretch their legs.

Let the kids run around a little if there's a grassy area at the rest stop. It will do them a lot of good to burn off a little energy before getting back in the car.

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