Road Trip Tips from a Mom of Six

tipRoad Trip Tips

‘Tis the season for cookies, eggnog, and chestnuts roasting. It’s also the season where you may or may not be taking a road trip to see family. I don’t want to project all my own neuroses on you, but sometimes a road trip can be stressful, especially when there’s a major holiday involved that might require an extended family picture with everyone dressed in velvet and pretending to sing carols! A few years ago I made a rule that we were no longer making road trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but since there is still college football, we end up making a twelve-hour road trip every couple of months. My husband and I joke that we have become the experts in the 12 hour weekend getaway!

Road Trip PackingThis is how our packing begins

I know that six kids under 10 is not the norm, and that you’re probably not traveling with a van as full as mine, but these tips are universal! The first time I read a ‘car trips with kids’ post on Pinterest, I was really excited … until I saw this women had two kids in the captain’s chairs of her brand new Odyssey with the back row folded down for storage bins neatly marked for each child! In my van every seat is taken, and the trunk is basically a game of Tetris with luggage, diapers, a portable crib, the stroller, etc.

Road TripSometimes you need to make a pit stop for the aliens!

So, this is not so much a guide on organizing the car, it’s a guide to staying sane while driving long distances with your children!

Sarah’s Sanity Saving Road Trip Tips

  1. Pack a Separate Bag for the First Night: We take lots of trips that take us two days. If we’re driving to Florida, we’ll spend the night halfway so we can break up the monotony a bit. When we stop just for a night, I have a carry-on bag packed just with toiletries, pajamas and next day clothes. This saves me from having to unpack the entire trunk. I leave the small bag on the top of the stack so we can get in and out quickly.
  2. Disposable Clothes: With six active kids, there are always clothes that are worn out and ready to get tossed. I take these clothes for driving days, and then I don’t have to worry about repacking them. When they go to bed, I put the clothes in the trash. I won’t put my kids in these clothes when we’re going to dinner with the in-laws, but if no one is going to see us, it doesn’t really matter what they wear.
  3. Earphones: I cannot stress this enough, you don’t want to spend three hours listening to Angry Birds or Minecraft, you want to enjoy a bit of conversation with your spouse (or reading US Weekly, don’t judge!). If you’re going to let your kids have screen time on a trip it might as well be peaceful for you. Make sure there are earphones for every device!
  4. The Snack Pack: Pre-pack a disposable container of snacks for each child. You can give them their pack, or hold on to it and give it out bit by bit, but this way no one thinks little Susy ate all the fruit snacks! (You can see how I pack the snack pack here)
  5. Choose Seat Partners Wisely: You know your kids better than anyone, and while it may be a pain to put a car seat in the third row, if that’s what you have to do to keep the peace, do it! You know who is going to have a meltdown at hour three because someone is breathing on them, so do you best to avoid that scene!
  6. Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!: Preparation really is the key to a peaceful drive. You can’t control the traffic or the weather, but you can have phone numbers and addresses plugged into your phone. Bring chargers for devices and always have plastic bags and baby wipes … just in case!
  7. Don’t Stress: The best thing about the road trip is that it’s up to you. If you feel like taking a detour, take it. If you feel like coming home a day early or late, you can. If you forget to pack the diapers, you can stop along the way and buy some. A family trip should be fun, so don’t let the little things ruin happy memories in the making!

What are your best road trip tips, or do you just stay home?!


Sarah is originally from the east coast of Canada and moved to San Antonio from Salt Lake City 6 years ago for her husband’s job. They have 6 children: Samuel (9), William (7), Benjamin (5), Afton Rose (4), Charles (2), and a baby girl that was born on July 1st. She’s a busy stay at home mom, and she loves her job! She loves entertaining and cooking and spending time with friends and family. She’s also come to fully embrace the family road trip! You can read more about Sarah and her family over at Frankly Entertaining.


  1. I have to say that Sarah is a dear friend of mine. In fact she made a quick stop at our house on the way to her most recent destination. She is brilliant at this traveling with small kids thing! The idea of saving those whole in the jeans or big stain on the shirt clothes never crossed my mind. Such a great idea!

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