5 Ingredients in a Great Road Trip

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Our return to Cannon Beach over Labor Day was monumental. I learned from the mistakes I made on our last road trip. I picked up a few new tricks as well. Above all, I figured out the recipe for success and I was ready to face the 4+ hours in the car with the kids.

Have an awesome destination in mind

Ever since we left the beach in July Dek has been hounding me to get back (hounding is a gentle word. Incessantly harping on it would be more accurate). Imagine his delight when he woke up one morning, we loaded up the car and told him we were going to the beach. He was beyond thrilled. We talked about it for at least 45 minutes in the car as I raced us down the highway.

Lewis and Clark Bridge over the Columbia River

Lewis and Clark bridge over the Columbia River in Oregon

Pack a lot of food

Snacks were overflowing in our backseat; Munchies for Mike and me, a case of water for and all of Dek’s favorites. I tucked them into a reusable grocery bag that we all could easily search through when hungry.

Snacks in the bag? Here’s a sneak peek.

  • Pirate Booty and corn chips
  • Goldfish snack crackers
  • Peanut butter filled pretzels
  • Fruit leather
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Bananas

Plan pit stops along the way

On our last trip we didn’t expect the kids to need to stop. Yes, we were crazy and not thinking. This time we planned on it.

I knew where the two random rest stops were along the highway. I had a spot picked out for us to have lunch at the halfway point to and from the beach. It worked like magic.

I don’t know if it will always go so smoothly, but this time it did.

Headphones and a tablet made for a quiet, relaxing ride

Have a game plan

Dek had been miserable on our way home from Portland in July. He was overtired, bored and ready to just be home. This time we left as soon as everyone woke up in the morning. Dek is not a car sleeper and we learned that leaving at nap time did not work for our family.

I also gave up on my “no technology” strategy. Instead I made it a reward.

Dek, on his own, hung out in the car just watching the world go by for almost 2 hours. When we stopped for lunch I turned to him and said since he had been so quiet and lovely, he could now have my Kindle Fire to play games and watch movies. He was ecstatic!

On top of that I gave him his very own headphones; a move that was a win win for all of us since I don’t think I could survive another round of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Honestly I would have given it to him sooner, but it was all the more sweet for me to be able to hand him my Kindle without any whining or temper tantrums coming from the back seat.

Ty hated the sun on his face so we got creative

Be flexible

The journey went surprisingly well. Mentally I had prepared myself for the worst. I’d seen the worst (Dek trying to open the car door with his toes as we speed down the highway at 75mph is pretty bad, even if the child-safety lock is on).

I knew we might have to make multiple stops. It might take us 8-9 hours instead of 4 or 5 to get there. I was OK with that.

If we needed to find a park to let Dek run around in and a shady spot for Ty to stretch so be it. If I had to make an extra food stop to try the amazing pie and jam advertised in a Podunk town in the middle of Oregon, so be it.

As long as we got there in one piece I would be happy.

Our final destination… Cannon Beach, Oregon

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written by Keryn Means

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10 comments

  1. Mom

    This is another one of my favorite posts filled with good, practical advice. First, I so glad you came up with multiple positive strategies for tackling a difficult situation for all. No one should be miserable just for being human and having limits. I also like how you rewarded Dek for his good behavior. It’s amazing how well kids can keep themselves occupied for long periods of time, but it will never be as long as a grownups! To reward him, makes him feel good about himself and like he’s accomplished something. Last, once again you’ve shown one of the many positive sides of traveling with kids. Life at their pace makes you to slow down, take rest stops and enjoy places and scenery that you may not have bothered with before as you sped along the highway.

  2. 1.The Thomas the Tank Engine song is now running through my head.
    2. I’ve been known to pull over for pie in a small town because a billboard to me to.
    3. On our last roadtrip, I made the mistake of stashing the snacks between my 2 boys. On the 3 hours it took us to get to our destination, they ate half the food. I normally wouldn’t care, but we were going to an island with no stores, so the snacks had to last the entire weekend plus the return trip.

    • Sorry Michele. Thomas is in my head ALL THE TIME. Need to find a new song for that kid to sing. Good to know about the snack too. My boys are strapped into car seats still and can’t quite reach it, but oh so soon they will!

  3. One thing I would add to this. Make your kids a part of your travel plans. Let them have input on what they want to do. Even if it is just a park or a zoo or whatever, the more kids are a part of the planning process, the more invested they will be in the trip (rather than feel like they’re being dragged along).

    • Great tip Jeremy! We did stop at the zoo on our last road trip. This time Dek was just so excited we finally were headed back to the beach he didn’t want anything else :-)

  4. So Jealous. Here I sit on an island paradise but there is so much of the mainland I haven’t seen! I am craving a roadtrip! So many great memories

  5. Love the tips! I think being flexible is the key to any travel, but especially road trips with kids :) I continue to love reading the stories on your site!

  6. Great post on travel advice. @Jeremy Branham I agree with you we should make our kids a part of our travel plans as it will help in both ways i.e in enjoyment and it will also help a kids in exploring new places. I would like toe share a great travel information of USA.

  7. We love road trips but dont like ‘Are we there yet” questions…now we days we make pit stops (toilet breaks) and try to find games to play!
    Love the idea of headphones.

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