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8 Tips for the Summer Road Trip

I think that every person I know has booked a beach vacation. We haven’t booked a beach vacation ourselves, or any vacation for that matter, and quite frankly, I’m totally bummed out about it. My kids are awesome travelers, but we just have too many commitments with work this summer to take the time away to dip our toes in the sand.

Since my children were born, we have traveled by car for up to twelve hours to visit family and to vacation. When friends hear that we’ve never flown with the children and that we’ve actually attempted AND SUCCEEDED at numerous road trips with our kids, they cannot fathom how it’s possible to travel by car for long distances.

Despite my jealousy of everyone else’s vacations, I’m still willing to share some road trip secrets that have helped us get to our far away destinations without having to get divorce lawyers involved or call child protective services.

Long road trips with kids can be FUN!! REALLY.

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  • Pack more snacks than you think youll need 1 of 8
    Pack more snacks than you think youll need
    Pack enough snacks to last the whole trip, then when you think you have enough, double that amount. My children develop a debilitating condition known as Picnic Syndrome whenever they know that I've brought food. Suddenly they become ravenously hungry and cannot function unless they eat RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. Packing your own food is not only more economical, it's also far healthier than what you can buy in gas stations along the way. Bring a small cooler for cut-up veggies, water, and juice. I also pack pretzels, nuts, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, fruit strips, and special treats like cookies.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Bring along portable DVD players and handheld game devices 2 of 8
    Bring along portable DVD players and handheld game devices
    Make sure everything is charged and that you brought along charging cables, extra batteries, and anything you might need to keep these devices working, for heaven's sake. And whatever you do, don't forget the headphones! Check out new movies from the library, or check for DVD rental locations along your route.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Plan some fun games along the way 3 of 8
    Plan some fun games along the way
    My kids adore playing "I Spy," looking for the letters of the alphabet on billboards, searching for different states' license plates, and playing road trip bingo. I LOVE this free printable for bingo from That's What Che Said. I printed out the bingo cards and placed them in clear plastic sleeves, attach them to clipboards, and have the kids use erasable markers to cross off the things that they find.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Travel with art supplies and activity books 4 of 8
    Travel with art supplies and activity books
    Those small boxes of crayons saved from restaurants are perfect for road trips. Sometimes when we're feeling extra sassy, we'll let the kids have vinyl stickers, gel clings or wikki sticks and decorate the windows in the car.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Bring reading material 5 of 8
    Bring reading material
    Picture books like Where's Waldo and I Spy help kids to pass the time independently. Now that my son can read independently, he will often read aloud to his sister. Kids can even use this time for meeting the goals for their library's summer reading program. My kids also love looking at the old atlases we have in the car. Atlases are even better than maps for the kids to browse since no complicated map folding skills are involved.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Stash a toy bag 6 of 8
    Stash a toy bag
    Save party favors from birthday parties or toys from kids' meals and pack them in plastic bags to bring on the trip. You can also pull out some of those long-forgotten toys stuffed under beds and in the backs of closets and pray that they'll become new again to the kids. These should buy you at least five minutes of quiet.
  • Stagger the goods 7 of 8
    Stagger the goods
    Offer the kids rewards for good behavior by offering something at each hour or a certain number of miles traveled. Dole out the snacks, bring out the games or crayons, let them play their DS, or give them a toy bag at designated times. I've found that having an hourly reward works best for my kids.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Don’t forget potty training essentials 8 of 8
    Don't forget potty training essentials
    Bring a potty seat for the car if someone in the family is potty training or has recently potty trained. Having a potty seat for frequent or emergency bathroom breaks can be handy, to say the least. There are few things worse than holding a child over a filthy gas station toilet when they have yet to learn — or grow tall enough for — the art of the public bathroom squat. While a potty chair is super handy to have along, it won't be helpful if you don't also bring along toilet paper or wipes, a trash bag, and some hand sanitizer!

    (photo credit: Flickr)
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What tips do you have for surviving road trips with kids?

(photo credit, top image: Flickr)

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