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  • Heather Marie Jessop

Traveling with Kids. Six tricks that will save your sanity!


Last weekend my family and I went on our annual trip to a resort with an indoor waterpark. We choose the winter months, well, because it is winter in Montana and it seems to last FOREVER!!

This annual trip isn’t the only traveling we do. We also spend a lot of time camping during the months warm enough that if you bundled up you might stay warm. Our last trip we had to deal with temps at 6 ͒ the morning we left. COLD!!


Anyway, travel time to get to our camping destinations usually ranges from 3-4 hrs each way.

We do this enough that I have figured out the almost perfect recipe to avoid all of the whining, griping, complaining, fighting, are we there yet, I’m bored, I’m hungry, I have to potty and without shoving a screen in front of my kids faces the whole time.


Mind you my kids are currently 4, 6 & 10 and we have been doing this for a few years.

Last spring we even had a trip to Utah that is roughly an 8 hr trip each way with success using the tips I am going to share with you below.


Always do a bathroom break before leaving. Everyone has to at least try. I DO NOT want to get 20 minutes down the road and hear that someone has to go to the bathroom. Nope!! Not gonna happen.


Keep your kids in the loop. Telling your kids what to expect is the single most effective way to avoid a lot of the nonsense that happens during travel time. My youngest doesn’t understand time, yet. So, I speak according to meal times. He understands food. :) We will be leaving after lunch or we are going to get there around dinner time, etc. This they all get.


I also explain to the kids that it is going to be a long drive so sit back, relax, pull up a blanket and feel free to take a nap. 8 out of 10 times I will hear a little “ok” from my youngest and he will do just that. It is the funniest thing.


Snack bags!! This little trick is amazing. Each kid gets their own bag of snacks with their name on it. I am sure to put the same amount of the exact same thing in each bag. I don’t want to hear so and so ate all of some item or so and so isn’t sharing. I also inform them that once it is gone it is gone avoiding the “I am hungry” 5 minutes into the trip. They have gotten accustomed to pacing themselves.


Talk! We always have some great conversations in the car. And nobody can walk away. Hahahaha!! In the car is a great time to bond with your kids and spouse through conversation. It doesn’t have to be serious as we talk about everything and anything on our trips. You can learn some fascinating things about the others in your family on long car rides.


Audiobooks!! Y’all, I love audiobooks. My husband is great at picking out audiobooks that we all enjoy. Brandon Sanderson is one of our favorite authors. However, be sure you pick a book that is kid appropriate as this author has a wide range of books for all kinds of different readers. And many of the audiobooks that we have listened to have awesome sound effects. It is like a movie in your head. We listened to almost an entire audiobook on our trip to Utah.


Make a decision to chill out and have some FUN. Get in the mindset that you are going to be trapped in your car for an extended period of time with your kids. So, make the best of it.

We find the strangest things to keep us entertained. Usually, I will put them to work looking for bears, elk, mountain lions or moose. Deer are what we usually find but on the very rare occasion we have found a bear.


We explain what road signs mean, time how long it takes to get from one mile marker to another and have even spent an hour looking for railroad tracks that kept coming in and out of view along a stretch of road. We have “raced” a train and hooted and hollered as we passed it. You can find almost anything to keep the kids entertained. Last weekend we made a big deal each time we crossed the Clarkfork River as it weaved back and forth underneath the freeway what seemed like a dozen times.


These are the little tricks that I have up my sleeve that saves my sanity each time we road trip it. I hope you found them useful. What are some of your tips and tricks for road trips?

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