How to Survive a Road Trip with Dad

How our family of 9 survives road trips Daddy's way...

Hubby & I love Road Trips… but we love them differently.

I love to explore {thus the travel writer occupation & Simply St. Augustine blog}. Road trips are the perfect opportunity to discover something new!!! When we #RoadTrip my way, I research roadside attractions, parks and local restaurants along our route and we make the journey part of our vacation. It may take twice as long, but life is a journey, not a destination. Right?

Hubby just wants to get there. He will tackle a 7 hour road trip with 1 potty stop. My thoughts? You.Have.Got.To.Be.Kidding.Me.

Road Trip w Dad
I love this man and we have a lot of fun! But all the fun on road trips with Dad happens *in* the van, not via stops along the way!

After 16 years of marriage, we’ve learned to compromise and to plan ahead. Now we decide before leaving which kind of travel we’re doing- a Mommy Drive or a Daddy Drive. Our drive up to Helen, Georgia was decided ahead of time to be a DADDY TRIP. From our house, it’s a 7+ hour trip if we don’t stop {ha!} and drive the speed limit. Here are my tips to Surviving a Daddy Road Trip:

Pack meals you can eat in the car: 

On Daddy Trips, the gas station or potty stop will not be long enough to spread a picnic blanket. And a rest area with picnic tables is absolutely out of the question. So I pack a cooler with {relatively} crumb-free foods.

  • Healthy Road Trip Breakfast Ideas: hard boiled eggs, chewy granola bars, drinkable yogurt smoothies, sliced fruit, cheese sticks, cheerios in baggies, apple pancakes (when we make them with apple chunks and cinnamon in them, they don’t need syrup & aren’t as crumbly as toast or waffles)
  • Healthy Road Trip Lunches: For this trip, I brought individual hummus cups, crackers to dip, fig newtons and an Arabic bean salad. I did that on purpose so we have to stop… my kids can’t eat bean salad in the car! But here are some tried-and-true in car lunch ideas:
    • Wrap sandwich meat around a cheese stick
    • make-your-own Lunchables by wrapping individual plates with saran wrap. Include sliced veggies & cheeses & cured meats.
    • Sandwiches are good, of course.
    • Individual Dixie cups filled with pasta salad or fruit salad are good for bigger kids- instead of serving with silverware, we saran wrap the tops & the kiddos tip back the cups to get the salad into little mouths.
    • No juice boxes- the sugars can make the kiddos feel nauseous and make them need to pee pee. No individual chip bags- they’re incredibly messy.

Keeping the Car Clean on Road Trips:

Each row in our van gets a trash bag & all trash goes straight in the bags. We toss at each restroom stop. On long trips like our Florida-to-Ohio road trip, I bought a “dirty diaper bag dispenser” knowing we’d need a lot of smaller bags and gave Andrew the job of keeping all trash picked up. At every stop, he would collect any trash in cubbies or on the floor. We assigned a bigger sister the job of making sure all backpacks were “repacked” at each stop so toys, games and stuffed animals didn’t take over the van.

Keeping the Kids Busy on Road Trips:

  • Use movies judiciously. Bring a combination of videos that big kids & little kids will enjoy. And alternate between car games to create family memories and movies to enjoy a break and reduce “picking” on each other. I snip new car game ideas out of magazines and save them from the internet so we have new ideas each trip to add to classics.
  • Audiobooks FTW: We always bring audio books on long trips. Over the years, we’ve learned history with Your Story Hour, learned about honesty, love and devotion with naughty Pinnochio, have related to revolutionaries and cried through Les Miserables, and been shocked by the injustices of slavery when listening to Amazing Grace (the story of William Wilberforce). Order through my Amazon links above (if enough of you do, I may be able to talk hubby into a latte stop!) or check out your local library’s selection.
  • Create a Road Trip Folder: Since I know we won’t be making a lot of stops to break up the drive, I often make each kid a travel folder. These are filled with a map for them to track their trip, I spy lists, a budget sheet, facts about cities we’ll be passing through, and the ever-popular license plate game. Some are things we do as a family and others (like hidden picture worksheets) are for each kiddo. These make great trip diaries after the fact and are one more tool in the keep-everybody-happy toolbox!
  • Choose to Have a Happy Heart: Remember the admonition of Philippians 2:14 to do all things without grumbling or complaining. Choosing to have a bad attitude about the style of travel, driver’s habits, traffic or kids’ movie choices does not make the trip shorter or create good memories. So choose to be a blessing and model respect and kindness to your family!
Road Trip with Kids
We read, we listen to stories, we sing, we watch movies, we play games… and we pray for a lot of grace over the 8 hour drive!

So how do you do it? What are your favorite road trip games and activities to pass the time on long road trips? Share in the comments so we can all learn together! And subscribe so you don’t miss any St. Augustine fun!

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