How To Enjoy A Family Road Trip

How To Enjoy A Family Road Trip

A few weeks ago, we did something bold.  We took a road trip with three kids under the age of 6.  I was headed to the Children’s Pastor’s Conference in Chattanooga, TN and we decided to make a family vacation out of the event.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I spent weeks looking into fun road-trip apps (who was a I kidding?!), pursuing blogs and websites for tips (like this article on Top Tips for Surviving a Road Trip with Kids), checking out audio books and music from the library, and updating our Spotify playlists.

Planning a (Successful) Trip with Kids

Then the big day came and off we set for an 11 hour drive with three squiggly kids.  And you know what?  It didn’t turn out too bad! Here’s some tips to help your next journey:

  • Pack by outfits — we put the kids clothing in the suitcase as complete outfits, encased in a ziploc bag.  This made getting dressed each morning way easier.
  • Pack a puke kit — no one wants it to happen, but you never know!  We put a trash can along with towels in the back seat just in case.  We also gave the kids Dramamine since they do tend to get motion sickness.
  • If you can, travel when the kids are sleeping.  We left our house at midnight and listened to books on tape in the front as the kids slept in the back.
  • Check out Air BnB — we were able to stay in a full apartment, complete with washer and dryer for less than it would have cost to stay in a hotel.  It was great to be able spread out, have a separate bedroom and be able to cook a lot of our meals.
  • Visit the library, or better yet — the library app.  Our library just introduced an amazing program called Hoopla that has tons of digital audio books. We could download them to our phone ahead of time and had hours of books both for kids and adults to listen to on our journey.
  • Teach your kids basic safety tips about being in public — again one of those things we don’t hope to use, but better safe than sorry!
  • Only plan one major event per day.  I know you want to cram in “all the fun you can” each day, but you’ll just end up with cranky kids and tired parents.  Schedule one event per day and make sure to leave some room for some down time.  Bring along some coloring books or favorite toys to play with during the evenings.

Tennessee Trip: Chilling at night

  • Check out local blogs to find events — I asked our Air BnB host for family-friendly ideas (and she had plenty!), but I also looked at staycation posts from local bloggers.

Check Out The Fun!

Hotel Tennessee

Our surprise night in a hotel.  The snow was so bad, we had to pull off about four hours from our destination and stay in a hotel. Thankfully, I had packed a surprise!  They are checking out their new Usborne books that show a secret picture with flashlights!


The Tennessee aquarium was on the “must see” list of many a blogger, though we were a little wary because of the price.  We ended up taking the plunge ($30 tickets!) and the kids say it was their favorite part.  Would I do it again?  Probably not, but it was a good “one time experience”.

Tennessee Trip: Carousal

This carousal was a “must see” on my 6 year old daughter’s list.  She had been saving up her dog-sitting money for months and even got some 50-50 money at a swim meet that she pocketed for the occasion  ($1 per ride).  She and her brother ended up riding this classical 17 times in a row.  Makes me dizzy just thinking about it. Definitely worth checking out.

Tennessee Trip: Ice Cream at Clumpy's

After the dizzy carousal riding, we crossed the street to grab some ice cream at Clumpy’s — recommended to us by our Air BnB host.

Tennessee Discovery

The kids and my husband also headed to the Discover Science Center while I was at the conference one day and had a blast.   They had so much fun, we debated going again before heading back home.  Definitely worth a stop!

All in all, it was an amazing trip!

What About You?

What are your tips for traveling with kids?  I’d love to hear about them!

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