Simple Ways to Prepare for Traveling with Children

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We love to travel.  Exploring, seeing new places, experiencing new things, making memories, those are the highlights of traveling.   I have so many cherished memories of traveling from my childhood that I hope to

Due to my husband’s job (and the fact he doesn’t enjoy flying) I have become pretty savvy on traveling alone with the kids.  I have flown nearly coast to coast with two children and last year, the three children and I traveled about 5,000 miles on the road, alone.  It wasn’t scary, I was as prepared as I could and ready to take on the adventure.

family travel chicago

Since my children share my love of travel, they are always asking when is our next trip.  As a matter of fact, last summer on our way to Chicago to attend the Disney Social Media Moms on the Road conference, we stopped for a breather and Austin announced that our next road-trip just had to be to Alaska!

Yes, that is my son!  The one that after driving over 4,000 miles so far that summer declared he was ready to take on Alaska.  It is on our travel wish list but this mom wasn’t quite ready to take on that kind of drive just yet, not with a one year old anyway.

Road - down the road-shopdropandoil-ad

With 2015 well on its way, we have once again been discussing about heading out on the road.  On our family vacation this year we plan to head to New York.  My brother lives in the western part of the state and we can’t wait to visit Niagara Falls, see some of Canada, visit New York City and take in a few museums.  We have several other destinations on our radar for 2015 and they can’t happen soon enough for the children.

Traveling with children though is not an easy feat.  It requires planning and preparing, then planning and preparing some more.  Here are a few tips that help me get ready to take on the road with my children.


1. Plan your route.  Yes we have all kinds of technology that can tell us where we are down to the intersection we are at but there are times these have issues or just flat-out do not work.  Having a plan and knowing where you are headed makes things run more smoothly.  Get the kids involved by printing off maps and directions of your travels.  Have them keep track of exits and track your progress.  It will help you out and keep them engaged and occupied for some of the drive.

2.  Make lists!  Start early so you don’t have to panic at the last-minute.  I have found I over pack if I don’t think things through.  Last summer I was able to pack myself and all three kids into one American Tourister luggage piece.  It was pretty awesome but I was only able to do so by making lists to really evaluate what we each needed.  I packed each outfit together for each child so it was easy to keep things together.

3. Pack bags for each child.  If you let the children do this themselves you never know what you may find.  I have them think about things they enjoy playing with and then put a handful of items on our table.  We evaluate them together to see if should actually be packed.  Here are a few of our favorite things we love to take in the car.  I usually purchase/make a few new activities for along the way as well.  These I keep in a separate bag and once they start to become restless will pull out a new activity to engage them.

4.  Food & water.  Enough said?  Having fun snacks keeps everyone happy on the road.  I try to get a few of the children’s favorites and then pack plenty of water, fresh fruits, crackers, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, nuts and veggie sticks.  While suckers and gummy bears come in handy on a long drive, choosing snacks that aren’t loaded in sugars but packed with proteins and vitamins can give you a boost you need to make it until that next stop.  There are so many creative ways to package goodies that make them just as exciting as the over priced sugar rush that will be tempting you at the convenient stops along the way.

5.  Clean out your vehicle.  Clean it out just to fill it up again?  Yes! Starting the trip out with a clean car allows you to pack more efficiently, organized and feel more in control.

6.  Plan for the best but prepare for the just in case.  Make sure you have all your papers you need including insurance cards, registration and car insurance documents.  Organize a mini emergency kit with a flashlight, jumper cables, car jack, spare tire and tools you need to change a tire.


7.  Prepare your vehicle. Getting your vehicle ready is so important when taking long road trips so you can arrive safely to your destination. Have your tire pressure and tread depth checked, tires rotated if needed and oil changed.  Bryan usually cares for our vehicles but this year I have taken advantage of the services offered at the Walmart Automotive Care Center.  I am able to drop off my van to have it serviced and then shop for our snacks and anything else I need to take with us on the road.  It allows me to utilize  my time efficiently and keep the kids busy while we wait.

Since we already use Pennzoil, it is a no-brainer.  Pennzoil is designed for complete engine protection and will allow you to drive an extra of 550 miles per year vs. a dirty engine.  All Pennzoil products help clean out sludge other oils can leave behind and provides better protection from friction.

They offer three types of oil so you can choose what fits your exact vehicle needs.

  • Conventional Motor Oil – A traditional oil base, fortified with Active Cleaning Agents™ to continuously prevent dirt and contaminants from creating performance-robbing deposits.
  • High Mileage Vehicle – Helps to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s a motor oil that is specifically designed for new or late-model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, to help keep the engines running clean and going strong for a long time.
  • Platinum (synthetic motor oil) – Best cleanliness and protection in the Pennzoil line-up. With PurePlus™ Technology, the Platinum® motor oil is proven to keep pistons up to 40% cleaner than the toughest industry standard. PurePlus™ Technology is a revolutionary process that converts natural gas into a 99.5% pure base oil.

With confidence that my van is ready to hit the road, it gives me peace of mind.

8.  Pack plenty of great tunes and movies!  When everyone starts getting a little tired, cracking up the radio to a favorite song the kids love to sing helps lighten the mood and raise the noise level.  I hear my kids singing “Wagon Wheel” in my sleep.

My biggest takeaway that I remind myself of is no matter how much you prepare, you are not always in control.  Roll with the punches and remember that even the unexpected and turn into the most memorable moments you will laugh about later.  Be relaxed treasure the moments.

Now that I have shared some of the ways I prepare for traveling with my kids, I would love you to share yours!  What ways do you prepare to hit the road with your family?

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1 thought on “Simple Ways to Prepare for Traveling with Children”

  1. That is such good advice about a road trip…planning is important, but you have to remember to be flexible along the way, too. If you are heading through upstate New York, make sure to stop at Saratoga Springs (especially if it’s during the track season). It’s a great town! #client

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