Tips on Preparing Yourself (& the Kids) for a Long Road Trip?

Okay so this image right here pretty much describes how I’ve been feeling about an upcoming family vacation. This will be our first family of five (six including my mother-in-law) vacation, and we will be on the road for at least nine hours just to get there (driving from DC to South Carolina). I don’t even like being in the car for longer than two hours at a time, so I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around having to do it for this long with three young kids. Neither of them have been in the car for longer than four or so hours at a time. So I can’t help but wonder how many times we are going to hear the words “are we there yet”?

But before we can even get in the car, there’s all of the prep that comes beforehand. There’s the shopping, the sorting, the laundering, the packing. Did I mention it’s for a family of five? One of which is still in diapers. All of which are still in car seats. So how does one prepare for a trip like this? I know there are so many mothers/families out there that do this all the time (& I have a few friends that come to mind). But as you can see, we haven’t been one of them. And that’s not because we don’t like going on vacation, it’s because there hasn’t been enough time to do so in the last few years.

The first thing I always do before packing for any trip (whether it’s one day or five), is to write out my packing list. But I haven’t even gotten that far with this trip probably because I’m dreading that I’m going to look like the picture above. In my mind, I sort of have a strategy in what I need to do, it’s just a matter of actually doing it. I’ve gotten as far as washing and folding all of the laundry but haven’t put together what actually needs to be packed.

I would really love your tips/suggestions/words of wisdom in figuring out what I absolutely have to pack in order to keep the kids happy/content/entertained on the trip to and fro. I guess I’m worried that they might be slightly traumatized at the amount of time they will have to spend in the car (heck, I know I will). Our hope is that they’ll sleep for most of the ride but how can I make it fun and interesting so that they’ll want to do it all over again? Wait…I may need that advice myself. 🙂 We are definitely looking forward to it so I appreciate any and all suggestions. 🙂

What are some things you do to prepare for, and ensure that your family vacation goes off without a hitch? What are some non-traditional things you’ve done to keep the kids from freaking out and not  wanting to go on future trips?



You Might Also Like


  • Rachee
    September 28, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    I am a terrible over packer. I like to be prepared for any situation. I pack a variety of items: books, activity guides, electronics, extra batteries and surprises for my kid so that she won’t be bored.

    • Christine St.Vil
      September 28, 2012 at 9:15 PM

      LOL Yes, me too!!! I always overpack and then get to the destination and wonder what I packed all of that stuff for. LOL I love the idea of packing surprises for the kids! Thanks so much, I will definitely do just that 🙂

  • Shelda Raymonvil
    September 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Hi Christine! Unfortunately, I do not have a family of my own (yet!) so I cannot give you advice regarding the process but I can offer some support!

    Make sure you take mini breaks in between packing, laundering, shopping, and all of the hectic-ness. (Even if it means closing your eyes for 2 seconds then getting back up again!) Take a breather…because I’m sure you will be spending hours packing and hours more on the road to come.

    Also, think about the positive things you will be experiencing during your stay in South Carolina instead of the dreadful car ride (it will make a difference!)

    I hope this little bit of info helps and I hope your positive experiences of your trip outweighs the drive! 🙂

    • Christine St.Vil
      September 28, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      Thanks for the reminder Shelda! The funny thing is I am REALLY looking forward to the trip and all that we will be doing (including celebrating my brother & best friend’s wedding). So you’re totally right that I should focus on that and not what needs to get done beforehand. 🙂

  • Janeane Davis
    September 28, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    When traveling with my four children I make sure to have handheld electronics for each person, the car charger and rechargeable batteries to make the car ride more tolerable.

    • Christine St.Vil
      September 28, 2012 at 9:13 PM

      Thanks Janeane! I need to actually get some rechargeable batteries because their handheld toys have been going through batteries like crazy, so thank you!

  • DjRelat7
    September 28, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    I just took a camping trip on Labor Day weekend with my nieces, nephew and boyfriend. We met up with a big group to a campground in RI. It was about a two hour drive. I started off with a list of what each person was going to need and then what we were going to need for camping. Its nice to write that list out, I make mine with check boxes, so once things are packed in the car its checked off. Luckily your children are small so no one will be in the front seat touching the gear clutch (I might have to write about this) so YAY. Have things that will entertain them in the car. It might be their hand held video game or a portable dvd player. Like Janeane says make sure you have batteries and or/ car chargers. Maybe sing songs. It looks like fun in the commercials. In my car everyone was singing along to their ipods, not a good idea, when its three voices singing three different songs. Maybe stop every two hours after they are awake and run around the car to get your legs moving and to relieve any back pressure that riding for that long can do to you. Maybe topics of conversation for you and your husband while the kids are asleep to keep you awake. It is much easier to start the drive at night to avoid traffic if you’re driving a long distance. There is nothing like adding traffic to an already long trip. Say a prayer before you get into the car and before you drive off. Bring pictures of your destination, print them out on the computer and have them in the car. It will be a visual reminder of the fun to be had. I always have a book on me … play upbeat music to keep the energy flowing for the driver and the passenger 🙂 It helps trust me! If I think of anything else I’ll stop back in 🙂 Good Luck packing!

    • Christine St.Vil
      September 28, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      Wait…touching the gear clutch?! Oh yes, PLEASE write about that one! LOL Oh yes, my husband always laughs at my checkboxes, but I like them too because I know that if I’ve checked it off it’s because it’s physically packed in the suitcase/bag and in the car. WOW thanks so much for these awesome tips! And I am literally LOL picturing everyone singing different songs/tunes at the same time 🙂 And love the idea of writing out a list of things to discuss on the trip, and definitely will be sure to pray first 🙂 Thanks again!

    Leave a Reply