Dear friends:

Next week, we are taking a 10 hour trip with all four kids to attend a family wedding. Our kids have always been great travelers, but it has been awhile since we have taken such a long journey.


in close quarters.

all of us.

in a car.


That said, I want to be prepared.

Enter, you! (GooooYOU!!)

In the comments, please leave ideas for entertaining children on a car trip. If you have written about it on a post on your own blog, feel free to leave a link to it.

Can’t wait to see!


  1. Christine says

    We haven’t been brave enough to take our five kids on a trip longer than 4 hours yet so I’m just in awe that you are attempting a 10 hour trip. You’re my new hero. I recommend mp3 players and a DVD player or two for the kids and ear plugs for you. Or leave later in the evening and let the kids sleep while you drive all night. You can only play the license plate game for so many hours.

  2. A friend just reminded me this evening about books on CD. There are lots of good books at the library on CD. When we have remembered to do this we have always enjoyed it. (Wish we had remembered it last week on our 10 hour trek!)

  3. we made a 12 hour trip with a 3 and 1 1/2 year old earlier this year. We were out the door at 4 am. We just loaded them up in their pj’s and began our day. By they time they really woke up it was breakfast and we were 4 hours down the road. Then the next 8 hours they drew on these cool magna doodle cars book/magna doodles, we looked for big trucks and watched a few DVD’s and all the while it was actually a pleasant trip!

  4. So I haven’t looked at it completely, but I heard on the radio that there is a site called: that has all sorts of ideas to keep your kids entertained in the car…check it out.

  5. We live 18 hours away from all of our family, so we’re very used to long car trips. Here are some of my best tips…

    1. Books on cd. Get them from the library.

    2. DVDs. We have a portable player, but we make the kids alternate watching movies with other activities. I swore I’d never use a dvd player to entertain my kids in the car, and yes, now I’m eating crow. But 18 hours is a long time!

    3. Give each of your kids a roll of quarters when you start out on your trip. For each time they whine/complain/argue/ect, take away a quarter. Whatever money is left at the end of the trip is theirs to spend how they wish.

    4. A cookie sheet with a lip is a great surface for coloring/drawing in the car. The lip keeps crayons and pencils from rolling all over the place. Plus, you can use it with magnets too (great for younger kids).

    Good luck. And if all else fails, Benadryl works wonders. (I’m kidding–it has the opposite effect on my kids).

  6. I agree with the person who said start early! I pack my kids a breakfast. I keep it a secret what will be inside, so it’s a little treat when they open it up. Eating it also occupies them for a bit. I include oh, so exciting things like bags of dry cereal, pb&j uncrustable (homemade), nothing really exciting in itself, but just a variety of things they can eat along the way. I do usually include a Yoohoo – it’s a treat, but includes a good amount of calcium, and the packs are portable (don’t have to be refrigerated).

    In addition to DVD’s and music, I have also created for them travel journals. Basically I got a cheap 3-ring binder ($.39 during back-to-school sales) and filled it with printables from sites like Nick Jr and Family Fun. Family Fun has a TON of printables (even some which are interesting to older kids). I included a zipper pouch with a freshly sharpened pencil, a NEW (woohoo) pack of colored pencils (or crayons depending on age), a pencil sharpener and a small pair of scissors. Some of the printables I chose require cutting. I do also try to find printables related to states that we will be travelling through – no sense in wasting an education opportunity! :)

    We also make sure we have plenty of snacks and drinks, and we stop (without complaint!!) any time anyone says that they need to use the bathroom. Everyone is required to ‘try’ to go when we stop, and we take advantage of rest stops to walk around for a few minutes.

    We started doing road trips when my youngest was 3, and we’ve been pretty successful in keeping it fun for everyone.

    Good luck!

  7. Karla –
    I have a great, fun, FREE idea. Get a canning jar and pour popcorn kernel seeds into it. In between the kernels put small toys and items – things like paperclips, pennies, pushpins, etc. For the toys – Polly pocket shoes are great or small Barbie accessories. Little balls or anything tiny – really – a lego, etc.
    The jar becomes an I-SPY jar instead of an I-SPY book. You can shake the jar and hide the items and then the kids have to find whatever item you picked. :)

  8. Milehimama says
  9. Michelle Smiles says


  10. After reading your post, I decided to post my own Works for Me Wednesday on how we handle long car trips. I hope you have the time to come check it out, and I hope it helps.

  11. we always go at night…leave in the evening…by the time everyone really gets bored, they’re asleep…and added bonus…less stops and no noise. Plus, by driving at night, there isn’t any traffic and you gain an extra day at your destination.

    we lived in Montana for 8 years, the trip back home to seattle was 10 hours…we did this several times.

  12. Hadley Coble says

    I posted some little cookie sheets that I painted with some chalkboard paint on my blog: A friend of mine went a step further and used curtain clips and ribbon to make a holder to hang this on the seat in front of her daughter. As another person already said, these are magnet boards and trays for eating and coloring too! You can print lots of things out and slap some magnets on the back for fun activities.

    You can also (if you’re feeling brave) let the kids use dry erase markers on the windows. They wipe right off.

    Get lots of stuff from the dollar tree (modeling clay, mini dolls, stickers/sticker books, etc.) and make treat bags to hand out along the way (you can put new homemade magnet sets in the bags too).

    Take time to run around in the grass at rest areas.

    Borrow a dvd player and take some movies.

    Get some book lights for them to use after dark.

  13. We enjoy traveling with our four kids and I have written a couple of posts about it. Here are the links:

  14. Llama Momma says

    I just picked up some small white boards from walgreens for three bucks each. My boys LOVE to write on their own boards…over and over again!

    Good luck on the trip.

  15. Kelly @ Love Well says

    We took our first road trip in a long time back in April. I got some great suggestions on this post and my tips after the trip are here.

    Bottom line: It’s very doable with a few distractions.

  16. Like Heather, I’m a big fan of the leaving at the crack of dawn strategy. Also, keep a stash of toys & activities for down the road rather than giving them a bunch of things to do at the beginning of the trip. Even simple things like a box of band-aids or a package of chenille stems can entertain kids for quite a while.

  17. Anonymous says

    We have had the best luck with non messy snacks, rest stops every few hours, and books on tape.

  18. The smartest thing you can do, above all, is to leave predawn and cover some of those hours while they’re sleeping. Put them to bed in comfy clothes that can double as real world clothes (like t-shirts and sweats). Leave at 4 a.m. (yes, I said it). You’ve killed a few hours before they even wake up.

    As far as how to entertain, I know people might blast me for it, but I have two words for you: DVD player! Yeah, I said it. It’s the best thing for long trips because it’s the only thing that works once they’ve been in a car a long, long time.

    I’d also have a tote packed with lots and lots of entertainment items: crayons and paper, books, games, toys, snacks. Every time they get antsy, toss something new back at them. Keep them stimulated and busy.

    Good luck! You’ll do fine!

    Oh, and one last bit of advice, if you can afford or stand it. Break the 10 hours up into two 5-hour days at least one direction. With kids, short drive days just work so much better.

  19. mamasnest says

    Just posted a travel guide at Mama Speaks today (and recently survived 4,000 van miles with my two year old!)

  20. Mrs. Fussy Fussypants says

    Michelle stole mine!!!!!!!!!!

  21. We take a ~6 hour trip to my daughter’s doctor often (sometimes more than once a month!), and often I make the trip alone with our 15 month old and almost 3 year old… I agree with others about travelling at night if possible, an iPod with movies and music (that way I can still listen to the radio!), and magnadoodles. Also, I got a collapsible canvas box from the Container Store, which I put between their car seats and I fill with with toys, snack, and drinks. I’ve trained them to put thing back in it when they’re done (by not getting things back for them if they throw them down on the floor board) – this way they can always reach all their stuff. I got a little laptop, which has actually worked wonders for keeping them entertained (it’s called the Fun 2 Learn Laptop). For snacks, I pack dry things like veggie pops and cherrios, but also special treats like fruit snacks. We also play games where we watch for things – with my age group, it’s usually me looking far ahead at something and then saying “let’s see if we can find a COW!” and letting them “find” it. For young kids like my 3 year old, I bring her old potty seat, that way we can just pull off the road (I always pull off on an on-ramp, because it’s dangerous to stop on the side of the interstate) and let her go potty in the back of the SUV. I use Clorox wipes to wipe out the potty after she goes. I keep giant ziploc bags in the back for dirty diapers and the Clorox wipes. I make sure she and DH and I all go potty at the restaurant when we stop, because rest stop bathrooms are N-A-S-T-Y. We sing a LOT of songs, and we usually get bored and make up new verses (the bugs on the bus go bzzz bzzz bzzz…)

  22. Cindi @ Moomettesgram's Musings says

    We’ve always taken trips with our kids by car when they were younger. I have a granddaughter now who’s other grandparents live in VT. I posted some tips on my WAHM blog in December:

    Have a great time!

Speak Your Mind