6 Tips for Driving Long Distances With Kids


For the holidays, my husband and I decided to embark on a 23-hour (plus stops) drive with our kids to visit family. While it was an extensive road trip and we didn’t know what to expect out of the adventure, both my husband and I said that we would certainly do it again next holiday season. It was definitely a long trip, but it was also a lot of fun.

We were able to break the 23-hour ride into two and a half days. The first day we drove from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The second day was the longest one, as we started driving at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t stop to sleep until 11 p.m. Our final day, we started driving at 7 a.m. and by 11:30 a.m. we had reached our destination. Coming back was somewhat the same, although we did get to Columbia much later that day.

As you can imagine, driving for two and a half days with littles in the car is not an easy task. I learned a lot on our trip and figured out what worked and what didn’t work to keep the kids occupied on the drive. Below are some tips for driving long distances with your kiddos. 

On the way there…

1. Make frequent stops

Since kids must ride buckled up for safety and they cannot move much while they are buckled, it’s important to make stops so they can run around, use the restroom, get a diaper change, eat something, etc. Each family will have different needs, but personally what has worked for us is trying to stop at least every three to four hours. And, let’s be honest here, parents need the break too!

2. Bring lots of activities for the kids

If you can, buy new things at the Dollar Store or even the dollar spot at Target to bring on the trip. Things like coloring pages, busy books, etc. You can also let them bring items from home that they can entertain themselves with, such as toys, dolls/action figures, books, etc. I would also recommend bringing a tablet to let watch them watch a movie or their favorite tv show or listen to music. (If you are concerned about your kids spending too much time on their tablet in the car, you can establish clear limits about its usage before the trip). 

3. Make it fun!

In our case, we highlighted to our kids how we were going to stay at a hotel for two nights and eat out, so they were excited about that. We also played some road games such as counting cars of a specific color, playing “I spy,” guessing what number someone is thinking, and even hangman. We also took this this opportunity to sing each of our kids’ favorite songs and asked them if they were excited to see their relatives.

On the way home…

I’m not sure how it is in your family, but in our family the trip home is a bit different. My kids weren’t excited anymore because we were headed home and not on vacation. Therefore, we had tired and cranky kids. And, heck, we were tired as well! As a result, we tried some different methods on the way back. Here are my top three recommendations for the trip home. 

1. Talk about your favorite experiences from your trip

Yes, you are all tired, but chances are your heart, and your mind are full of new experiences, so the ride back home is a great chance to talk about what you liked during the trip and what you didn’t.

2. Sleep (Obviously, not if you are the driver)

This one is self-explanatory. The ride back is a great opportunity for the kids to get some sleep before going back to their routine.

3. Start planning your routine back home

No one thinks it’s fun to think about your normal daily routine while you are away on a trip. But, if you are in the passenger seat, you can take advantage of maybe doing online grocery shopping, so you can pick your groceries up before you get home. Or you could maybe order a pizza so it gets home when you do and you won’t need to worry about cooking. Why not take a look at your schedule for the next week and see what needs to be done to prepare? 

Road trips can be tough. But there are plenty of ways to help the time pass by more quickly while in the car. I hope these tips help you out on your next road trip!

What tips would you add to this list?

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Luz Zertuche Mery
Luz has been happily married for seven years and is a proud mom to three girls, four years and under. She is originally from Mexico but has lived in Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina. South Carolina has been her family's home for almost two years (but they have been in Columbia only six months, so she is eager to explore all the city and its surroundings have to offer). So far, she has really enjoyed going to the Riverfront Park, picking strawberries at different farms, eating ice cream at Rosewood Dairy Bar, and going to events at the State Fairgrounds. She is a stay-at-home mom, avid churchgoer, and community helper. Some of her passions include reading, cooking/baking, listening to music, learning new languages, exercising by watching fitness videos, and traveling. She recently started to learn all about gardening and loves it (it has turned into a family activity for the weekends).


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