View Full Version : Any Great Tips when Going on a Long Car Trip?

05-28-2010, 08:14 PM

we are driving down to NC this summer. Its going to take us anywhere from 8-10 hours...Planning on leaving first thing in the am about 8a. Will probably stop around lunchtime to eat get gas stretch a bit etc.

This will be our longest drive to date. Any tips to keep the kids occupied? i know the video games, perhaps a movie, snacks books etc. Anything out of the ordinary...

05-28-2010, 08:20 PM
We drive from NC to NY, WDW, Atlanta etc often. Our biggest tip is that we leave at 3-4am. Our kids sleep in the car until breakfast, and I get 4-5 hours of silence. When they wake up, we stop for breakfast, gas, stretch. Then, they have about 3 hours to chat, watch a DVD or what have you and we are there. The first day I plan for a down afternoon since I am usually tired but it's well worth it to us!

05-28-2010, 08:29 PM
lots of people say how they leave in the middle of the night or leave at night so the kids could sleep, but my husband and i need a good nights sleep to function, so i don't think that would work for us but i'll mention it to my husband and see what he thinks..

05-28-2010, 08:30 PM
There's a really good thread on this over on the Families at Disney forum. :thumbsup2

I really didn't have any tips for keeping children occupied during the drive, mine were more organizational.

05-28-2010, 08:33 PM
Are you crafty? If you go over to Etsy and search Custom I spy bags you can see an example. They are little fabric bags with plastic beads in them and little trinkets. I have seen the beads at both Joanne's and Michaels.

I plan on making some for my DD and niece and nephew for our trip in Sept.

Handle help yahtzee is another idea. (make sure the sound can be turned off)

For little kids, colorforms were always popular with my kids. They could stick them to the windows and easily remove them.

If you see a Cracker Barrel, I have heard they sell a car bingo kit. No pieces to loose, just slide the window over if you see the item.

05-28-2010, 09:01 PM
thanks just read through it..

There's a really good thread on this over on the Families at Disney forum. :thumbsup2

I really didn't have any tips for keeping children occupied during the drive, mine were more organizational.

05-28-2010, 09:45 PM

we are driving down to NC this summer. Its going to take us anywhere from 8-10 hours...Planning on leaving first thing in the am about 8a. Will probably stop around lunchtime to eat get gas stretch a bit etc.

This will be our longest drive to date. Any tips to keep the kids occupied? i know the video games, perhaps a movie, snacks books etc. Anything out of the ordinary...

I know this goes along with dvds and video games, but our kids loved playing Disney Scene It while on a 14 hour drive a couple months ago. We didn't take along the board game, just the dvd and chose "my play" each time. They watched little clips and answered the questions - made time pass fairly quickly.

05-28-2010, 09:55 PM
I have each kid take a plastic shoe box where they can fill it with any thing that they want to bring, as long as it fits in the box. The box can also be used as a foot rest during the drive. They pack it with DS games, mini deck of cards, rubiks cube, dolls, etc. Like I said, as long as it fits in the box they can take it. It also helps keep things somewhat organized during the trip.

05-28-2010, 10:01 PM
It's a 12 hour drive for us to WDW. We usually drive part of that time at night so the kids will sleep. We have always used DVD players for movies to occupy them part of the time. We have both a portable DVD player & the one that attaches to the headrest so everyone can watch. Both of these can be used with headphones. We also take game boys, PSP's, etc. Now that my kids are a little older, we also take books & Ipods. I find that taking a snack bag & small cooler that they can reach helps too.

05-28-2010, 11:00 PM
Along with the Colorforms idea, you can take those magnetic boards that are themed. I don't go to kiddie stores anymore, but at the specialty ones, I know they had a 3 panel board with background scene, and then maybe 15 or 20 magnetic pieces to move around the board. I've seen princess theme, dinosaur, construction site, wild west, etc. Or just buy magnetic numbers/letters/shapes and you can use an old cookie sheet for them to stick to.
Books on tape are good. At the kids section of the library, or you can get them at Cracker Barrels and drop off at another when you're done. We've done Cam Jansen and My Side of the Mountain books on tape - kids enjoyed both.
Of course, there's the license plate game. How many different states can you find on cars passing by.
Or, on field trips and car trips - the alphabet game. Start with A - you can find it on a license plate, billboard, store front, etc. Cannot move on to B until you've found an A somewhere.
Have fun. We do a 10-11 hr trip to grandmas almost twice a year since the kids were very small. Frankly, when we got a video player it was SO MUCH EASIER - we weren't sure how we'd survived w/o one for so long!!

05-28-2010, 11:14 PM
I agree that the driver needs to have a good sleep before driving.

When my son was younger 5-8 ish ages, I had one of those big road atlas books. We would watch licence plates and get him to find the state and cross it of on the big map of the US - good for geography, since we're from Canada & he didn't know where they were.
He watches alot of movies now. Next year he'll have his learners and thinks he'll be able to drive, scary.
Watch road signs and have them figure out how much time it will take for so many miles - good for math. My son is pretty good at this now.
A smaller road map and they can mark off each town you pass to get an idea of how much farther.

Most importantly, as soon as you get in the car tell them they are not allowed to ask 'how much longer?'

05-29-2010, 03:51 AM
We've always just used the DVD player and gone to Blockbuster to buy from their 5 for %$20 bin. When our son was little, we strictly limited his screen time so this seemed like a special treat to him. In reality, it kept him totally engrossed and allowed my husband and I to talk and listen to our music as DS was using headphones. To this day, DS thinks it's his birthright to watch all the TV he wants on vacation road trips.

05-29-2010, 09:35 AM
We drive a lot at night. We left at 7 pm for our 12 hr drive to WDW this year. We actally go ahead & get our KTTW card & go to a park for a few hours, then go back to the hotel to rest when the room is ready. We take turns driving & taking naps. We take pillows & blankets so we can get better rest. I am a early bird & DH is a night owl, so we are alert at different times anyway. I forgot to mention taking ear plugs. We use these for which-ever parent is napping so the kids can watch a movie. Listening to the movie seems to keep the driver alert too.

05-29-2010, 10:28 AM
Our biggest tip is that we leave at 3-4am. Our kids sleep in the car until breakfast, and I get 4-5 hours of silence. When they wake up, we stop for breakfast, gas, stretch.

Priorityonecb. We are with you on this, leaving at 3 a.m. is the way to go. We live on the MS Gulf Coast so its a 9 (10) hour drive. We always stop at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. This stop is an hour, then we only stop for gas one more time. We will take turns driving so we are all rested.:lmao: (I don't need much sleep) We get to WDW at or around 1:00 p.m. Unpack if room is ready. Then hit Magic Kingdom till the cows come home. Get up for rope drop every morning till we leave to come home.

lisaross. Leave as early as you can. To keep the kids occupied, i-pods, cell phone texting, games, sleep. We use to play a Jeep game, ( I love Jeeps) so when one of us would see a Jeep Wrangler or a CJ we would say. "Jeep, Jeep can't Jeep back". I got that from the punch bug game, I did not want my kids punching each other much less me, so I came up with the Jeep, Jeep game. Have fun on your trip. :thumbsup2

05-29-2010, 10:35 AM
I worked hospice on the night shift for two years, so getting up that early just every now and then is easy for me. Plus, I get SO excited when we are leaving for a vacation I can barely sleep anyway! I *love that we can be eating Earl of Sandwich by lunchtime! We go to bed early that first night, and all is well. I really, really recommend it! Those 4-5 hours of not having to entertain anyone and to just drive in silence (and with no one else on the road!) is wonderful to me.

05-29-2010, 10:37 AM
My son is a little younger than your kids, but I always put a stash of new junk from the dollar stores in my own car bag. Or the dollar spot. When boredom starts in, I get out something new from the bag. Whether it is a notebook with a funny somethig on it, just little stuff. We have the DS, and dvd player as well, car bingo, also mad libs are fun. I usually try to have some new stuff, seems to keep him occupied longer.

05-29-2010, 10:40 AM
We drive 16 hours, but split it into 10 hrs to Pensacola, then 6 hrs to WDW. We play the "ABC" game, where they have to find signs that start w/ A, then B, then C, etc... We give them "homework" to do for part of the trip. They also watch a ton of DVDs & play DS games. They have the Cracker Barrel car bingo games & read books. We load the backseat with cushy pillows so they can sleep at any time!

Another thing we do is stop every 2-3 hours for bathroom breaks. BUT, we try to stop at a fast food restaurant with a playground. We stretch our legs & let the kids play for about 15 minutes.

05-29-2010, 11:17 AM
Think back to when you were a kid going on a family vacation. What did you have to entertain yourself for hours and hours in the car? A Sony walkman cassette player? Looking out the window as the country goes by and seeing all the stuff you've never seen before, or remembering stuff from your past trips? Now we have MP3 players (thousands of hours compared to a couple hours on cassette), DVD players, cell phones (not us though), video games.... I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get my kids to lift their heads up so they can see 6 different states that they've never seen before.

05-29-2010, 11:38 AM
Wow those where helpful tips thanks guy, i will till my wife about those things.

05-29-2010, 01:05 PM
We make busy books for the kids. A flexible 3 ring binder, coloring pages of the characters (photocopy a coloring book or print from online), can make your own disney wordsearch, online, journal pages (online), some blank paper, tic-tac-toe pages and hangeman pages.
Then have a pencil pouch (hooks into 3 rings)with colored pencils (markers stain and crayons melt). Also a small pencil sharpener with top and some of those little circles to repair pages if they get torn.
We have made these for years when traveling to Disney, by car or plane, they work great. Keeps them busy for hours and doesn't take up a lot of space also it is all contained in one binder.
Sometimes the kids color the character pages and then give them to the characters as a gift. The journals are great to go back and read years later.

Also, for the autograph books, we use character stickers to match to the autographs. When the kids are little, they can't read--this helps them know which is which.

I saw your are not going to disney, but this can be used to go anywhere. Maybe instead of characters, a beach theme or something. Have fun!!!

05-29-2010, 04:29 PM
We've done a lot of long distance driving - things I've learned:

Lots of pp say 3AM is a great time to leave, and it is, unless it's going to put you where the traffic is worst right at rush hour - i.e., DC at 8 AM or Chicago at 4:30 PM (Miscalculated and done both. :scared1:) so figure 2 hours of driving for every 100 miles factoring in time for pit stops (kids have to go at the darndest times). Estimate where that distance will put you relative to rush hour and adjust your departure relative to that.

With young kids, plan to stop at least once for a play break. Something as simple as a 1/2 an hour at a McDonalds playground will make your kids much more bearable when arrive at your destination after you've been on the road for hours. I've spent hours walking the hotel hallways after dark cause the pool was closed and the kids were restless after being in the car all day.

Even if you plan to stop for breaks pack your own snacks. The ones at the rest areas are very very expensive and every so often the lines at the rest area have just been so long that it would take over an hour just to get a pack of crackers. That $5 box of Ritz bits indiviual packets will seem like the best investment ever. Also pack juice boxes or water bottles to keep them away from the soda machines.

Similar to pp with the shoe box we allow each kid to fill a backpack full of their own toys and books to keep at their feet. Things that you would never think of they will play with for hours in the car. My DS' will pull out toys from the bottom of the toy bins and i'm always :confused: but they have fun with them.

Have them pack their toys in ziploc baggies or the tupperware sandwich keepers as it's a great way for them to keep their pieces together.

For activities in the car, we found that one or two new toys can also be a true blessing. Something really simple that they have no idea about even if it didn't cost a lot, will really hold their attention. We've found things like an airplane whose propeller will spin when held up to the window or a small fold up play set are awesome.

05-29-2010, 06:03 PM
i'm a seasoned long hauler, and so is mr bear.
My grandparents took me from florida to indiana practically every year since I was 1 or 2ys old. I got mr bear on my first road trip and he's been on every trip since.

We always started our road trips about 3-4am (and starting in miami, made us avoid the traffic). I usually slept till 9 and that's when we would get breakfast. But we'd always stop for the night at dinner time, and do something in that area. So to Indiana, we'd stop north of atlanta somewhere. To New Jersey, we stopped at South of the Border.

We sang lots of car songs. And coloring books, but crayon smell made me sick, so i got markers. Since it was a mini van, the back seat was laid down for sleeping with luggage stored underneath. So i'd sit back there and wave to people out the window and see who would wave back.... But seatbelts and safety are a bigger issue now.
My grandfather also had a CB radio and mini 3" black and white tv. But the antenna couldn't pick up much in the country. But i thought it was soooooo cool he could talk to truckers. And he'd find out what was happening up the road.

If this move to cali works out for me... I'm gonna be driving from florida to cali with my stuff. And my friend, a) doesn't want to learn to drive, and b) is sooo not looking forward to doing a road trip. And hates mountains, of course i want to travel over the rockies and through yosemite to get to california. I love nature and everything about it... So this will be an interesting long haul drive for me, and i'm totally excited by the idea.

I did 2000 miles last october. And ohh so pretty driving through gatlinburg and the smokey nt'l park

05-29-2010, 06:07 PM
When my kids were a little smaller, I had a clear backpack for each on them for trips. It had a lot of small games & toys. They both like to color, so I got some of the small colored pencils to carry in the car than wouldn't melt like crayons or smell like markers. They were much less messy.

05-29-2010, 06:22 PM
I just noticed the ages of your kids. Last year we got Harry Potter books on CD and listened to them on the way down and back. It was great...kept the parents and the kids entertained! And, it was free!!!