Staying Sane on a Road Trip with Little Ones

(Surely this little face could never drive me insane, could it?!!)  😉

After our recent “vacation“, I had a few ideas brewing in my head for ways to stay sane on a trip with little ones!  While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these are a few things that helped us:

Sanity-Saver #1: Don’t jam-pack your schedule.

I know exactly how you feel: you’re on vacation and you want to take in all the sites, so you plan to hit as many as you can.

However, unless whining, crying, and melt-downs do not bother you, I suggest allowing plenty of time for downtime and naps. It’s no fun to take a tired child somewhere they do not want to be — just because you want to say you did *such-and-such* on your vacation.

I remember going to Disney World with my husband when we were in our mid-20’s (no kids yet) and wondering why in the world parents were dragging these fit-throwing, crying kids around. The kids weren’t having any fun. The parents weren’t having any fun.

I understand that sometimes you just have to go somewhere even with tired little ones, but try to plan your trip with the kids in mind, too!

Sanity-Saver #2: A well-packed snack bag for the car is essential!

One thing I dislike about traveling is that we often don’t eat well, and I end up feeling terrible. Packing a bag (and cooler) with healthy treats can alleviate that!

Included in our bag and cooler:

Sanity-Saver #3: Sound machines are a blessing.

I am a huge fan of sound machines for sleeping — especially when you’re in a hotel! These little machines don’t take up too much space, and they can drown out the noisy neighbors above and below you!

Sanity-Saver #4: Pull-Ups aren’t just for 2-year-olds!

I might get some flack for this, but I don’t care! This saved my sanity as we were logging tons of miles. I put the two youngest (ages 3 and 4) in Pull-Ups while we were driving. No…I didn’t tell them just to pee in them (I’m not quite that bad of a mom!!)! It was a cautionary measure, because they usually tell us they need to go to the bathroom when there are no rest stops around (and my 4 year old will “never” go outside or along the road)!

Sanity-Saver #5: Activity bags keep little ones occupied in the car.

I took along a small laundry basket filled with activities in plastic baggies. You can find our ideas here and here. I just rotated through the activities and picked new ones out whenever we stopped.

Sanity-Saver #6: Keep a well-stocked car

Having an emergency kit in your car is essential.  You also want to have a “puke bag” of some sort (yes, I learned that on our trip).

It’s a good idea to keep a change of clothes and socks in the car for easy access. You never know when you’ll need them!

What are your tricks for maintaining your sanity on a road trip?!!  Leave your ideas in the comments below!


  1. says

    Thanks for your ideas. Love reading about what other people do on roadtrips. We travel often with 4 kids. I am with you on the pullup advice!

  2. says

    Hey, no flack about the pull-ups here! We do the same thing! LOL! Also, this year I got earphones for E’s Leapster so the rest of us didn’t have to hear her game. A life saver as her big teenage brother don’t care to hear her “baby games” very much. Another thing we took with us was her Magnetic writing board so she could draw a lot…the pencil is attached to the board, etc. No loose parts to have to find.
    We also took TONS of water and then the singles packets of drink mixes.
    I took the drink packets in my purse and when we stopped at a restaurant for lunch (a higher priced one planned for a “special” event on the vacation) we ordered water so we could use the packets w/them…saving us $$$ too! Drinks are so pricey in restaurants!

    • Stacie says

      I love that idea for the drink packets! I took along a container of lemonade powder, so they could have that instead of water on the road (also, so they didn’t ask to buy pop or whatever at rest stops)!

      I should add magnetic boards to the list, too! We didn’t take them this year, but I used to pack them every time — they worked really well when they were toddlers, too!


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