Surviving Long Car Trips With Kids

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over-packed car If you are reading this, then you can, with sympathies, imagine me in a packed-to-the-brim mini van with 5 active kids. We’re on our way to spend the holidays with Nana and Grandpap in Florida.

Whenever anybody hears that we are crazy enough to drive 18 hours with 7 people packed in a car, they inevitably ask us how we do it (after asking if we are crazy, of course). Amazingly, everyone in our family looks forward to our car trips, and although I do expect to feel grimey and tired once we arrive at the in-laws’ house, I am expecting the next day and a half to be a fun adventure. Last year, I posted a few of our long car trip survival tips, and I thought it would be appropriate to re-post these tips.

We always start our trip at night, so that the kids have an hour or two of excitement upon leaving and then fall asleep for several hours. When they wake up in the morning, we have breakfast out, and then get on our way. This method doesn’t work for everybody, but it’s ideal for us. My husband and I can sleep while the other is driving, we trade off when the driver starts feeling sleepy, the roads are clear, and the kids are quiet. By the time the kids wake up on day #2, we’re a good bit of the way there, so it feels shorter for them.

Everybody packs a pillow, a blanket, and a small bag of treats, books, and games. Individualizing the trip bags is a must for us. This includes Mom and Dad. My trip bag includes a couple of books (and now my my Literati eReader), my iPod Touch (especially handy for when I’m driving at night and the rest of the family is asleep), and my camera.

Between the front seat, I pack a moderately stocked bag of treats (crackers, grapes, fruit snacks, popcorn, etc), along with empty ziploc bags and paper cups so that I can pass individual servings to the kids in the back.

I also pack plenty of water bottles. Everybody has their own water bottle next to their seat, and we fill up on the occasional pit stop.

Our van has a DVD player, so we do bring a selection of kids movies to watch. We don’t go over-board with the movies, though. On our 18 hour drive to Florida, the kids watch 2-3 movies.

We’re generous on the potty breaks (we stop whenever necessary) but don’t stop for very long. Everyone gets out of the car and stretches whenever we stop. When we drive cross-country, we look for the rest stops with play grounds or grassy areas and let the kids have a few minutes of fun.

Sing together–turn up the music and belt it out!

Play car games, such as State license plates or ABC signs.

Read a book out loud together.

What are some of your tips for surviving long car trips with kids?

Photo from, a free graphics database.

PS–Go check out my guest post today over at MomItForward!

© 2010, Lolli. All rights reserved.

About Lolli

Lolli has written 3176 posts on this blog.

I became a mom in 1996, and in 2005 I had my fifth. Yes, 5 kids. In 2007, this blog was born (my 6th baby that will never grow up) and I've been sharing recipes, photography tricks, parenting tips, and everything in between.

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  1. Wow that is a great idea for such a long road trip. Along with toys and activities for my young ones I bring my Ipad. I work for DISH Network and I have their TV Everywhere product. I love it because the kids can watch live TV and anything we have recorded on our DVR. I like the DVD idea, but this way they can watch a variety of things and not the same thing over and over again. I really like it and the kids enjoy it as well.


  2. Starting at night is the best way to start if you have someone to switch off driving incase you start to doze. I love night driving. We once did a trip from So. Cal. to Louisville Kentucky with 2 teenagers on our way there and 3 teenagers on our way back, in an itty bitty toyota corolla – People thought we were nuts. The kids still talk about that trip 6 years later, I think they will forever.
    Sonia Barton´s last blog post ..New Shoulder Bag


  3. Great article! I read something similar on another website. New and old mommies can appreciate this alike!
    Obagi´s last blog post ..Obagi Skincare- Holistic Solutions for Damaged Skin


  4. Great post! We have used a lot fo those same ideas when we drove 17 hours to Florida with 3 kids.


    Lolli Reply:

    We’re 17 hours from our destination in FL, too. :) It’s a fun trip, but boy doe sit make for a long day or two!


  5. Wow, and you blog and drive at the same time!
    heh-heh. I know you nprobably scheduled this post, but still we had a good Twitter conversation yesterday? Isn’t Twitter a blast?
    Love it.
    Enjoy your Christmas!
    one cluttered brain´s last blog post ..Look I mingled!



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lolli BetterinBulk. Lolli BetterinBulk said: Surviving Long Car Trips With Kids (new post!) […]

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