WFMW: Road Trips with Kids

WFMW: Road Trips with Kids

Annalyn is on spring break this week, so yesterday we took a little road trip. Good friends of ours live three hours away, so we met halfway between our houses for lunch and a couple hours in the park. Driving the three-hour round trip (and managing the acrobatics required to hold a not-quite-walking-yet toddler while using the restroom. In a regular sized stall.) reminded me of the first few road trips we took with Annalyn.

It took me a while to figure out how to do road tripping with kids. And not that any trip was ever perfect. For the record, I’ve seen this in my rear view mirror many, many times:


Annalyn is a seasoned road trip vet these days, but Adrienne is still learning. She loves riding in the car, but she hates (H-A-T-E-S) sitting in the car when it’s not moving. Stop signs. Stop lights. Parking lots before I can get out and liberate her from that torture device I call a car seat. So, you know, we’re a work in progress.

We’ve figured a few things out…but [like every other part of parenting] I needed a refresher. So I looked back at the road trip tips I shared several years ago, and it turns out, they still make sense. In case you have a road trip {with kids} coming up, here’s what has worked for me!

  1. Put toddlers in Pull-Ups. (Acknowledge that this will set you back a few weeks in the whole potty training ordeal, but recognize that accidents and extra laundry beat pee on a car seat any day.)
  2. Pack a sippy cup and at least two bottles of water. (You might think she can handle a little jug of milk from McDonald’s, but you will be wrong. And she will be wet. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.)
  3. Keep a basket full of rarely seen toys on hand. We have a set of toys that we keep in the car, and with the exception of a few tantrum avoidance incidences, that’s the only place Annalyn can play with them.
  4. Make sure you have a box of Kleenex and a glove box full of napkins. And don’t forget the wipes. I’m just saying. Messes happen, and usually when a rest stop is just a memory but your destination is still a good hour away.
  5. Music is your friend. And obnoxious children’s music is, unfortunately, your best friend. About a month ago, Annalyn requested “Bob music,” so we’ve been jamming to Veggie Tales for a few weeks. I swear, Junior is tone deaf, but it sure beats listening to Rubber Ducky – again.
  6. Snacks make the road trip! Our snacks of choice (look away, all my healthy friends) are fruit snacks, Cheerios, Goldfish and yogurt-covered raisins. I prefer the fruit because they don’t create crumbs. But any snack that involves small pieces will probably work.
  7. If your child is attached to a pair of sunglasses (or headband or necklace or jacket or purse – or all of the above), don’t forget them. But don’t hand them over all at once, either. Dole them out throughout the trip, so he always has something new to whine about fawn over.
  8. Always take an extra outfit. For both of you. Trust me on this one.
  9. If you have room in the trunk, pack the stroller, the pack and play, or whatever equipment is appropriate for your child’s age.
  10. Blankets can serve a host of purposes. Keeping your kiddo warm, giving her something to hold onto as she (fingers crossed!) naps, and in extreme cases, keeping your seat belt strap from digging into your shoulder if you happen to wear a shirt with a wide neckline.

I’m not going to lie. I could hashtag each one of these tips with #askmehowiknow. But don’t. Don’t ask me how I know. Just assume that I learned the hard way – so you don’t have to. (I know. I’m a giver.)

Have you taken any road trips lately? Do you have any tips for traveling with children?

Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

25 Comments WFMW: Road Trips with Kids

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  4. Rachel March 17, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    I took a cross-country trip around the new year. I am SO grateful that I had the presence of mind to pack a towel. Night 1: no towel in our motel room. Night 2: 6 you accidentally splattered applesauce all over the seat.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 19, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Note to self: Don’t forget the towel tip! :)

  5. Bonnie Cowart March 18, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Cute! I was reading Mark’s post that comes through my email and at the bottom saw that his was also posted on something called WFMW so being naturally curious I clicked on it. You Mary just brought back TONS of memories of road trips from my house to “Grandma’s house” when my son John was a toddler. (He is now 28 and as you can see I survived :-) My Mom lived about 2 hours away when he was a toddler so there were a LOT of them! LOL! Thanks for sharing. Good memories. You have a blessed day Mary!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 19, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Bonnie! It’s encouraging to know you and your son survived all those trips! :)

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  7. Heather @ 15minutecheapskate March 18, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I can testify to your entire list, especially number #1! In addition, we’d do the following:
    * Plan for time to get out and have little ones stretch their legs at a rest stop. Sure, it adds time to the trip, but it’s worth it
    * Drive in the evening or early morning when kids can sleep through some if not all of the trip
    * We like to listen to books on tape as we drive. Not only does it entertain the kids, but also keeps the driver awake!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 19, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      YES, we have definitely learned to schedule extra time for stops. A must!!

  8. Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook March 18, 2015 at 11:40 am

    One of my best tips is to get a MagnaDoodle or similar drawing board. No crayons to spill! No marks on the car!

    Books on CD can be checked out of the library. My whole family enjoys kids’ novels like Beverly Cleary’s and Judy Blume’s books.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 19, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Yes, the MagnaDoodle is a great one! I’d forgotten that. :)

  9. BeBetsy March 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Hi! We are so happy to make your acquaintance and join your weekly party. We found you on

    Thanks for hosting a great party,
    Denise W. & Aubrie B. of

  10. Kristin Hill Taylor March 18, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Slugs & Bugs is the best (real music, not annoying!) children’s music out there. Go order the CDS, all of them, now. And I’m all for fruit snacks for my kids on road trips … or any time. We travel quite a bit with kids, and I think you have a pretty great list of tips! :)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 19, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Oooh, thanks for the music recommendation. Going to check it out now!

  11. Joanne Viola March 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Oh my gosh, even crying she is precious! Road trips are a challenge with little ones. I very much enjoyed this post!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      She is definitely precious, but I might have considered ear plugs a time or two. ;)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      That sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing!!

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