A Modern Day Fairy Tale: A Military Wife's Guide to Surviving Summer Road Trips (with Kids)

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Military Wife's Guide to Surviving Summer Road Trips (with Kids)

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Summer is in full swing, and for many of us, that means summer trips! Maybe you're planning a family vacation, maybe just a shorter day trip to visit family. But either way, summer is another season full of TRAVEL! And if there is one thing our time in the military has taught us...it's how to travel! Specifically... how to road trip!

For the first five years of our marriage, my husband was stationed in California while our families were across the country in Indiana and Illinois. Flying with a family could be quite expensive and inconvenient for everyone, so at least once a year we would find ourselves driving from California to the Midwest- approximately 30 hours on the road (going nonstop)...and did I mention this was with a CHILD! Our son Shaun took his very first cross country road trip at less than five months old. As I said, we KNOW road trips! Our road trips to visit family are now a mere 3.5 hours, but we still put many of the lessons we learned during those longer trips to good use.

Are you planning a summer trip with the family? Whether you're traveling across the country or just a few hours away, I've compiled just a few tips to help you travel while keeping your sanity (and without breaking the bank too!)


Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst.
 Despite all your best efforts to plan the smoothest trip possible, things happen. We've had broken down cars, bad weather, a sick kiddo...not to mention that one time we nearly ended up in Mexico by mistake. Oops! Summer travels are a bit easier as you don't have to worry about icy roads, but do be prepared for any other obstacles that may arise. Pack a few extra outfits more than what you might need (if you're like me, that's NOT a problem!). Keep your phone charged and a charger handy. Chances are, everything will go well...but if they don't, make sure you're covered!

Check the Weather. On that note, check out the weather before heading out. If you can work your travel plans around any upcoming storms, it can be a good idea, but if not, just know ahead of time to be prepared. And find a local radio station to tune into as you go... if things start to look bad, switch it over. You can also have your phone set to warn you of any warning in your current location. On our last trip, we hit a bad storm that made it impossible to see. Thankfully we were able to get to a rest area and wait it out--- if storms are in the forecast, give yourself time.

Pick Your Music Wisely. A good music choice can really make a long drive more bearable. When I'm doing the driving, I prefer my favorite contemporary Christian or some good upbeat 90s pop music. My husband is a big classic rock fan. With the kids, we also like to keep some of their favorites- like Veggie Tales or Frozen on hand!

Entertainment for the Kids. Travel games, coloring books, electronics, small toys...whatever it takes! For our son, it's usually something to watch a movie on...or a portable game system. Let's face it...kids get bored fast, and when you're on a long trip, bored kids will make you lose your sanity quicker than they can utter, 'Are we there yet?'. One great tip that we found helpful was to buy something new just for the trip...with any luck, the newness will keep them occupied longer than the same old toys they've grown accustomed to. It doesn't have to be anything fancy--- just a cheap $5 or so toy (or book) from the bargain sections. Maybe even some printable travel games? 

Quench Your Thirst (& Hunger Too!). Perhaps this goes along with the first tip, but it's such a big one that it deserves being mentioned twice. A small thermal with snacks for the trip is a MUST. Of course, you can always buy along the way, but having made that mistake I can assure you, it's not the best option. First of all, the cost of shopping convenience stores can be a little ridiculous! We can buy the same snacks we could pick up along the way beforehand and pay MUCH less. Second, you never know where you'll be when hunger/thirst hits you. In our experience, it's never when there are gas stations and restaurants galore, but when you're on the long stretches with nothing in sight. Of course!! I typically take along a small thermal with ice packs, drinks and simple snacks.

Dress Comfortably. The last thing you want when you're on a long trip is to be uncomfortable, and clothes can play a large role in that. Where clothes that you are comfortable in (and dress your kids the same)... both in movement AND temperature wise! For my son, that's usually basketball shorts and a tee. My daughter and myself tend to stick with our LuLaRoe. If we're going somewhere where we need to dress a little nicer, we will change once there! 


Road trips with the family are always a little unpredictable, but with these tips you should be a little better prepared for whatever the road sends your way.

Are you planning a summer road trip? Where are you heading to? Road trip expert? Share your tips in the comments. 

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