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Traveling with Kids? 10 Tips You Should Know Before You Drive (PLUS Enter to Win!)

Posted by Claire | Thursday March 29, 201220 comments
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I received free samples from Procter and Gamble in preparation of writing this piece. This post reflects my personal opinion and was not influenced by the sponsors.

Roadtripping is not only an economical way to travel; it also presents a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in your vacation in a way that an exclusive upscale resort could never offer (i.e. knee deep in crushed Cheetos and other detritus liberally sprinkled with apple juice droplets).

We hit the road often with our three children, pushing our trusty minivan to within an inch of its extended-warrantee life.  Along the way, we learned some useful tips to curb rascally behaviour and keep our van less… landfill-like.

#1 –Janitorial supplies
Stash bottles of hand sanitizer in every zone of your vehicle along with wet wipes and barf bags filched from your last trip by airplane.  Keep a goodly supply of plastic shopping bags to stay one step ahead of the trash that will begin to accumulate even before you back out of the driveway.

#2 – In-flight snacks
Don’t bring home cooking into your car. It will not get eaten – trust me.  Allow your snacking rules to relax a little during travel.  The little rugrats don’t like being cooped up for hours, so you should ease up.  I buy a small quantity of empty snack options and ration them out alternately with the better snack choices.

#3 – Meals on the road
The only person in this world who wants to make better time on the road than my husband… is me.  We don’t stop at sit-down restaurants, but if we hit the Golden Arches at every exit, we’ll pay for every McDouble in backseat gas blooms.  We try to make at least half of our stops at a Subway or Quiznos for a larger healthy fast food menu.

#4 – Car fresheners
Speaking of backseat gas blooms, an inevitable part of rocketing across the country in a squat silver canister for 8-10 hours solid is the stinky mélange of bodily functions, gas station coffee, and leftover food.  Don’t forget to pack a car freshener that is up to the task.  We’re using a Febreze Car Vent clip, which doesn’t just mask the unpleasant odours, it eliminates them for up to 30 days (on low, under ambient conditions).  I cannot stress enough how important that is.

#5 – Subscribe to CAA/AAA
It’s more than your piece of mind in the event of a breakdown; CAA/AAA membership scores you discounts at everything from hotels and restaurants to admission fees.  We have paid for our membership many times over and have yet to use it for an actual car emergency.

#6 – Buy a GPS with Lifetime Maps
Now is not the time to cheap out with the most economical GPS model.  I bought my mister a GPS with lifetime map upgrade for Christmas that allows us to refresh the latest road maps in North America four times per year.  I’ll never again have the smug satisfaction of asking my hubby if we’re lost.

#7 – Prepare for the worst
Pack warm blankets, flashlights, batteries, an umbrella, First Aid kit, and a small stash of non-perishable food regardless of what time of year you are traveling.  Even with your CAA/AAA membership, it can take a while for a repair truck or emergency vehicle to reach you and it’s best to be prepared.

#8 – Stop at a hotel with a pool
You might not want to spend the extra money but you really, really should.  Those kids have been pretty well behaved (all things considered) and you want them to get their energy out in the pool instead of upstairs in the room when you want to sleep.  This is especially true if you have to travel more than 1 day to get to your destination.

#9 – Be flexible in your scheduling
Try to schedule your hard driving time early in the morning (starting no later than 6 a.m.) and late into the evening.  Assume that you will lose a lot of time during midday and be prepared to roll with the punches.  One year we stopped off at a rest stop that had huge bushes of berries growing along a pretty little creek.  We passed a pleasant hour wading in the creek and collecting berries – definitely worth the time spent.

#10 – Learn to love Redbox
If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, congratulations on selling out like the rest of us and saving your sanity!  Movies from home get old really quickly, and because you can return kiosk movies to any location, it’s a convenient fix to “Are we there yet?” 

Do you have any roadtripping tips and tricks to share?  Post a comment below, and don’t forget to enter our contest for your chance to win a $100 gas gift card plus a CAR Vent Clip from Febreze!



* No purchase necessary. Limit of one entry per person. Open only to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec), must be age of majority. Contest closes April 29, 2012. Skill testing question required. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Total approximate retail value of Febreze Car prize pack is $102.99 CDN. See full rules.
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20 Comments

on September 08, 2012  KatelynRose1984  20,704 said:

These are some amazing tips for traveling with younger children! I have gone on smaller trips with my daughter (she's 3), but have been dreading our first full vacation together.. She just gets so restless!

on May 02, 2012  sirenstarlight  7,243 said:

Congratulations ladies!! :)

on May 02, 2012  Aliza  13,970 said:

Congrats ladies!!

on May 02, 2012  mamaluv  STAFF said:

UPDATE: The winners of the Febreze prize packs have been chosen!

1 Grand Prize consisting of one $100-value gas gift card & Febreze CAR Vent Clip:
Our Winner is bdeyell86

8 Second Place prizes each consisting of one $50-value gas gift card & Febreze CAR Vent Clip:
Our Winners are sweetpea31, lili, flycastin, kbarbosa, pg2011, caryn1983, theecorrina, and kaylaamber

Congratulations everyone!

on April 26, 2012  Tynk  2,039 said:

Great tips! I have a few things to suggest as well...

1)Bring a bag of small toys/books ect that the kids have not seen and then surprise them with something new to play with every couple of hours.

2)Try and do the bulk of the driving at night, when the kids are sleeping.

3)If you are spending a lot of time on the road, research potential hotel stops for along the way. No one wants to get stuck at a dump or paying sky high prices.

4) Wear comfortable clothes for the drive and if you are not the driver, take your shoes off and relax

on April 09, 2012  GoneBatty  3,196 said:

Ugh, I dread going to the grocery store with my two kids, let alone a road trip. Maybe when they are both potty trained I'll plan a nice road trip!

on April 03, 2012  LisaDrew  2,048 said:

Thanks for all the great tips!

on April 02, 2012  Keeks  3,612 said:

Bring a garbage bag for sure

on April 02, 2012  Beverly  140 said:


Make a list and check it twice!

on April 02, 2012  chicky82  2,625 said:

Great tips, I don't have kids but we travel with my cat who is dog sized and doesn't like to be cooped up for trips. Alot of these apply to out situation too. The only tip I can think of is to make sure that your car has a checkup, there is nothing worse than having to go on a long trip without the AC.

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