summer vacation: the car ride

July 08, 2012

[our beach trip July 2011] 

The car ride can sometimes be the hardest part about going on
vacation with little ones but I tell you, the more I do it
the more I learn so I'm doing this post to make a list
for myself but to also help moms and dads out there 
who have a vacation planned and need some idea's!

keeping busy
you always want to make sure you bring enough things
to keep the kids busy- this results in less boredom
which we all know leads to unhappy kids
and parents who want to pull their hair out. 
you can bring coloring books and crayons
it's always a big hit with my kids.
a fresh new coloring book
and sharp new crayons- there is nothing better!
I just bought two dry erase boards that
came with the marker and eraser from Target
for $1.00 each, they keep my kids content
for hours- so it was a steal.
make sure you have their favorite music
downloaded on your ipod, mp3 player or on cd.
this could make a tantrum or boredom
turn into a dance/singing party.
you can pack their favorite books
and read to them or have them read it to you!
another level up to make books fab on your car ride
books on tape/cd- you can even download them now a days.
games are a little harder for younger kids
but travel size games are always great-
this can include flash cards, card games, all
the way up to I spy or connect four- you name it. 
they make all sorts of games now in travel size
so it's easier for your kids to play
in a much smaller space.
My kids have the leap pads- those are
great for car rides, just remember to bring
all of the games and extra batteries
if you don't use the rechargeable ones!
Always make sure to grab one or two
of their favorite toys from home, something they
are familiar with in case they do get bored 
with the newer things or aren't happy 
with them to begin with.
some really great idea's too!

I mentioned iPods and electronic devices
just make sure they are juiced up for the first
few hours and remember to bring your chargers-
including a car charger which may make it easier 
to charge up if it dies- you want to make sure
they are in working order and don't shut off
while their favorite book or song is playing.
Also for parents who let their kids play
games or do things on their phones,
great time to let them play!

pack snacks
I always want to get to where we are going as
fast and safely as possible and by fast I mean
if we don't have to stop, that's ten times better.
For me, this means packing enough snacks for the 
car ride and if we are on the road for 
lunch or dinner, to pack wisely for each.
This means more money in our pocket for our trip!
We always make sure to grab a bag of ice
and fill up our cooler- some of my ideas;
a fruit salad with melon and berries
I bring toothpicks to make it fun to eat- they love it. 
bananas and apples are a perfect pre-wrapped snack
as well as raisins, banana chips, or dried fruit.
Shelled edamame are super tasty cold and fun to eat 
with fingers as are carrot and celery sticks
with peanut butter or hummus. 
We also really like frozen grapes- it's a huge hit.
For lunch I like to make sandwiches like, 
pb&j, hummus and cheese or turkey and avocado.
Pasta or bean salads with veggies and 
an herb vinaigrette are also good idea's that 
keep up well in the cooler on the ride.
For toddlers, pre-made toddler and baby foods like 

Sprout Organics, Plum Organics, Happy Baby Foods
are good to think about and bring as well.   
Whole wheat crackers, soft bagels, no-salt pretzels
 rice cakes, dry cereals, sugar free yogurt with granola,
string cheese; all good things to bring as well.
I like to stock up on a few avocados and saltines- 
I peel the skin back and voila
perfect mommy/daddy snack for the car ride!
Always make sure to have tons of water and juice boxes.

I have a really great tip for no mess juice boxes, too.
you know the triangle flaps on either side?
pull them up!
have the kids hold them by the flaps
instead of grabbing it by the sides to prevent
squeezing and juice going everywhere.
like this; it works every single time!!


for those with smaller children
snacking isn't always a good idea in the car.
there is a choking hazard where as it would be hard
to aid a child who is choking.
it may be easier to stop at a rest area
and use that time to have a small picnic
and take a potty break!

 taking turns
make sure if you have your partner with you
or even a friend to take turns with the kids.
you need a moment to yourself even if it's driving
or laying in the passenger seat to rest your eyes.
It can be stressful and exhausting- let the other drive 
and take turns making sure the kids are content
and hey, if they are already take advantage of
that time and let them be solo as long as possible
who knows they may just fall asleep
and then none of this information will even 
be necessary until the car ride back, if even then!
 if they can be happy by themselves
the less hectic and more fun the car ride will be.
Bring some music and ear buds with you
grab an avocado or a bag of popcorn
and your ice cold water with lemon,
put your feet out the window,
close your eyes, take a deep breath
and imagine being on the beach 
or where ever you may be going-
 it's totally worth it
and before you know it you'll be there!

What ever you do, don't let the kids sense
that you're tense about them being unhappy-
 If you need to stop to stretch, do it! 
It may end up being just what they needed.


  1. i've got to forward this on to my sis, she's got, i think i've mentioned before, 3 kids, 10. 8 and 6--these are awesome!!! I know it must have taken a lot of time to put this together, you are wonderful mother!

    1. you're very sweet. thank you! I would love for you to share it with her- it took a little while to put it together but it's so worth it- kind of like a check list for me and goodies for others!

  2. thanks! good ideas/suggestions. we have a long trip coming up and you made me think of a few things I'd forgotten!

    1. I'm glad this helped!! have fun and be safe on your trip.