Road Trip - Minneapolis,MN

Updated on July 14, 2012
T.F. asks from Minneapolis, MN
9 answers

My three sons (9,6 and 3) and I are going to be taking a road trip from Minnesota to Florida, with a number of stops on the way down and back to visit friends. I was wondering if anyone had any great ideas to help keep them occupied on the trip, incentives for good behavior etc.
Thank you for your input....I greatly appreciate it. This can be a great trip or a very trying trip, so I need your help.

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answers from Charlotte on

They need to be able to run around. Stop at rest areas and let them do that. It's too hard to behave well when cooped up and not able to run off the wiggles. (The wiggles are most of the reason for crazy behavior on a trip!)

Games they can play out loud like I Spy With My Little Eye how many different states' license plates can you find, stuff like that. Bags of manipulatives (not really small pieces that can get lost, though) that you change out so that they don't get too bored. Snacks so that they aren't screaming for food.

Prepare, prepare, prepare before you go. You never know when you might get stuck so that you can't get to a bathroom. For example, my 5 year old had to poop in the worst way, and we were on a turnpike with no pull over (no shoulder at all). Though traffic was moving around 35 miles an hour, it was 5:00 traffic so I wasn't going to get to the exit down the line. This won't happen to you because you most likely won't be on one of these turnpikes, but if there's an accident on an interstate, I could see it happening. My mom was with me, bless her, and she got a plastic bag we had packed and put paper towels in the bottom of it, turned around in her seat and reached back to him, got him out of the carseat, and helped him get his pants down and squat into the bag to poop. She cleaned him with wipies, strapped him back into his seat and closed up the bag. It stank SO bad that she opened her passenger window and strapped it to the side view mirror so that we wouldn't have to smell it.

Being prepared saved us there! However, there are portable potties that make this kind of thing easier - you might look into that. I always kept a few large cups (like from MacDonald's) with the lid so that if we couldn't stop to pee, I could pee in the cup myself (make sure it's a large cup - you can't believe how much your bladder can hold!) and a little tissue. Then you just pour it out next time you stop. That's also helpful for the guys in your family, unless you happen to have one of the urine collectors they have at a hospital (you might be able to find one of those at a medical supply place.)

Stopping to use regular facilities is best, since the kids can run around. But it's important to plan for not having facilities.

Also bring at least 2 gallons of water reserved for emergencies like your car overheating. You need something that can open the lid without burning your husband's hand too. Having AAA is important and have your card with you.

Have a wonderful trip, T.!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You'll get the usual suggestions about DVDs and portable players, which is fine, although it may be hard to find movies that suit their various ages.

One thing our kids always enjoyed was playing car bingo - you can get a magnetic set so the pieces don't fall all over the place. Another option is pads with check boxes. Either way, the idea is to find the necessary items by watching the scenery & the traffic - the bingo squares are things like gasoline trucks, motorcycles, barns, horses, bridges, railroad crossings, and so on. It's something that all the kids can do equally without having to read or write. It sort of makes a celebration of the trip instead of it being a chore.

Not sure if they'd be able to play "Uno" - depends on whether the seating allows them to play without seeing each other's cards and whether the little one could even hold the cards. Maybe one of the older kids could partner up with the little guy. In any case, the game takes a long time!

We also used to sing a lot - old standby songs like "I've been working on the railroad" and "Take me out to the ball game" - you can probably get a CD at the library.

Get some puzzle books that are age-appropriate and some tray tables - even the little one can do some "hidden picture" type games. You could have a half hour of quiet time every now and then!

Incentives include being able to order first at restaurants, new books, perhaps choosing a little side trip to a fun activity you pass along the way, choosing the next CD or movie, whatever you have available. Also, you can use money which they can save up to purchase a few souvenirs. See a budget and an hourly rate!



answers from Abilene on

This website has some great game/printable ideas. I used it when we traveled from Texas to Calfifornia. In one of my parenting magazines I read about getting a roll of quarters for each child. When they are behaving well or at certain time intervals give them each a quarter. Of course, travel DVD players are awesome. We rented movies from our local library to take. Have a wonderful trip.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Lots and lots and lots of short stops to get out and run amok. They need to move and work off the stress of sitting for hours.

I stop every 2 hours, 3 at most and that's when the kids have fallen asleep during the day.

I think it just makes the trip a better experience. When my friend and I do road trips she usually pays for the hotel and I pay gasoline and food. We stay in hotels that have a good breakfast because it is just easier to get the kids to the dining room and everything loaded back up. We get off to a good start in the mornings.

Then we stop mid-morning for snacks. We do tend to stop at McDonald's because it has a contained play area and the kids are familiar with everything they offer. We might be ordering 8 parfaits and cinnabuns or we might be getting a 20 piece nugget box. It depends on what they want and how hungry the are.

They play about 20 minutes then we load back up and head off to our next destination. If they had a big snack lunch can be pushed back a bit until maybe 1pm.

At lunch time we try to go somewhere that has a wide variety of affordable foods. Not someplace that is not kid friendly. The kids are NOT going to want to sit down and be quiet. Kid places are the best when traveling. You can make up for it with the evening snack in the hotel. You can feed them all kinds of healthy stuff then.

The afternoon snack might be a little later if the kids fall asleep. Make sure the driver has had enough walking around time too. They may want to eat lightly so they don't get that afternoon drag.

For dinner I would make sure to stop at a healthy restaurant so that you aren't blowing money on total junk. Something like Subway or Schlotzsky's or some other food chain that is fast and good for you.

Then I usually start thinking about hotels. It would be to your benefit if you went to one earlier in the evening instead of driving until the driver just can't take it anymore. Everyone needs to go jump in the pool for an hour or to work out in a gym, get the blood pumping and rejuvenate themselves. They will sleep better and will feel more refreshed when they wake up in the morning.

The evening snack is something I usually cram full of fiber and fruit. Something like granola bars and fresh grapes. If I can find a Walmart I usually will smell of the peaches and other tree fruits. If it smells like a peach it will taste like a peach. Often they are still green on the inside and have minimal flavor. You could even buy a watermelon. You could take a butcher knife and keep it in a heavy duty suitcase inside a heavy pillowcase or some sort of leather sheath. There are all kinds of options.

We will often get a room with a small fridge and microwave. This makes ice cream or even popcorn later in the evening a good thing to have on hand.


answers from Columbus on

I'm sorry, I'm still laughing at Dawn's poop bag blowing in the breeze out the window!

I agree with everyone who says to make lots of stops. In fact, tack on a good two hours to your travel time because getting the kids out, legs stretched, pottied, and back in again, will EASILY add that much and more to your time. I suggest bringing a soccer ball or something for the boys for a quick game. Make them run laps around trees! Anything!

Also if the boys don't get carsick, a portable DVD player would be invaluable. Our daughter gets sick, so we don't use ours any more.

And one more hint to save your sanity; No Rules In The Car. Let them eat what they want, watch what they want, listen to the music they want, nap when they want, anything goes. Anything to cut down on the squabbles and keep your attention on the road.

Very good luck to you. Let us know how it went!



answers from Des Moines on

I took a long road trip, alone with my 4 kids, last year. You have great advice here. We stopped a lot too, mostly we traveled within one day to another place to stay for a few days....except one 2 day travel to get home.

What I did for my audio books downloaded to my phone to listen to with earbuds so I didn't have to listen to the kids arguing, or the same movie play for the 3 rd time. You have to keep yourself busy too. I hate long road trips.



answers from Los Angeles on

-travel size games like tic-tac-toe, checkers
-portable DVD player a must (buy one then borrow another one from a friend so they can watch diff age approp things. Buy diff cheap movies and/or rent from library
-play games like "I Spy", First One to Spot a Purple Car gets a quarter
-bring comic books, iPad, iPod w/split earset to listen to music
-check out books from the library (bring one for yourself too)
-bring lots of diff snacks
-stop often to stretch legs, run around, use the bathroom



answers from Los Angeles on

It's helped us tremendously to stop for a run in a park. Plot it out ahead of time to find nice, safe parks. We made little picnics to eat so we did not have to sit anymore in restaurants. Good luck. It's sounds exhausting!



answers from Chicago on

Number 1 - bring a portable DVD player with some new movies all the kids will enjoy. This has saved us time and time again., especially since you will be the only adult in the car and driving, you will not be able to entertain the kids yourself.

Purchase some inexpensive, small, toys or activities the kids can do in the car and gift wrap them. If the kids go a predetermined time or distance without fighting or being disruptive they each get to open a package.

Don't forget favorite snacks (that are not messy) and plenty to drink. Hungry, thirsty kids are no good in the car.

And, most importantly, since you are the only adult in the car, take care of yourself while you are driving. Don't allow the kids to make you too distracted - even if they are going off the handle and acting liked caged monkeys - pay all your attention to the road. I saw a terrible story where a woman was driving with a car load of kids and drove right off a bridge killing everyone - she was so distracted by the behavior in the car.

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