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I didn’t just turn on a TV in a room my kids were in… I sat them down and strapped them in for 4 hours with movies on repeat the entire time. Judge if you must, but we were on a road trip. I was the only adult and was willing to buy cooperation from my kids. Their currency; Beauty and the Beast and M&Ms.

Road Trip with kids tips

Watching A Movie While Mommy Jams

Don’t get me wrong, we do watch TV in our home. We don’t usually do more than 4 hours in a day, especially two days in a row. They also are usually watching a movie while building Lego masterpieces, racing matchbox cars, or cuddling baby dolls. 4 hours of straight TV… #MomFail
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I could tell when the movie would go off (their use of headsets allowed me to miss the end credit music) because just 2 feet from where I sat it sounded like WW3 in the back seat. The rendition of “don’t touch my arm” or “give me my baby” that seems to echo as background music to our lives would begin. I would take a deep breath, try and channel the calm mom and handle the situation without taking my eyes off I-65!

At one point in the truck stop bathroom I was holding my daughter up to wash her hands, I turn and look at my 6YO and in those few milliseconds my daughters red chewy candy had fell out of her mouth and she promptly put it back in. I let out a scream and made her spit it back out, thanking GOD we are up to date on vaccinations and wondering if we needed to go ahead and get her on the most powerful antibiotics ever produced. And wondering if I should be concerned or elated that the sink was still filled with the bubbly soap residue from the last person that had come through… I mean, at least it was antibacterial soap! I know… #MomFail… I promise it won’t be my last.

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And what trip would be complete without a kid breaking out into a mysterious rash and needing to stop by the drug store (Thank you CVS!!) to get some benedryl to combat it. It followed much too closely behind the candy in the nasty sink incident to be related. Or it was related… I dunno… #MomFailNumber3

I wanted to give you some of my tips for taking a road trip with kiddos when you are going alone.

Road Trip

These Coffee M&Ms are my favorite road trip candy now.

  1. Let them eat cake, ok, so maybe not eat cake but give them movies or electronics. Throw out all the screen limits. I would rather my kids be entertained while I am crossing 4 lanes of traffic because Siri didn’t tell me I had to exit to the left. I would rather them not ask me 12 times in one mile if we were getting close. I also found they didn’t need as many snacks or get as thirsty as they do without the distractions. So DVD player, old cell phone with games, iPod… whatever your fancy, just grab it and make sure you have the charger.
  2. My sanity saver is my daughter’s cup that never spills. She can get 2 gallons of water out of a 2 ounce bottle if given the chance. I fill it with water only. Juice means she will drink too much and have to stop before we are ready. Water it is for us, and in a spill proof cup.
  3. I did stop at a rest stop. Once. I thought it was a novel idea. A quick on and off and hurried trip to the rest rooms…. with a photo in front of a Tennessee sign of course. And then in the bathroom stall I looked up and saw a sign: “How to Spot Sex Trafficking Victims”. It hit me… rest areas are great because its so easy to get in and out in a hurry. So the same must be true for someone snatching a child. So with a death grip on both my kids and look of a Mama ready to eat someones face off we raced back to the car with me getting highly agitated that they didn’t get in fast enough or help me in the lightning fast buckling that I longed to have in that terrifying moment. So it may take an extra few minutes at a truck stop, but that’s now my preferred spot. Overly paranoid? Maybe, but I’ll spare a few extra minutes and stop where I feel safest.
  4. We had bananas, crackers, and my beloved Crispy Greens. Snacks were generally low sugar so that I had less chance of running into a car sick kid.
  5. Next time I will hopefully remember the tylenol and benedryl… I usually do when we fly. But at least we had a close drug store.

    6 Tips for a road trip with kids

    Ahh…. Almost 6 hours of riding and nearly home is when they decided to sleep.

  6. Make sure you have all the necessary car chargers for your devices before you begin your trip. I needed a phone charger and decided to just purchase one at a truck stop. They are more expensive AND since I have done this before I knew it was highly likely it wouldn’t work. I tested the charger before I left. I had to exchange the $20 charger that wouldn’t work for the $25 one that did. Avoid this time and money waste and start your trip prepared.

So, have you ever taken a road trip alone with your kids? It was an adventure for sure. And since it went so well, even with all the #MomFail moments I won’t hesitate to do it again. So if I see a nice long overnight on my husband’s schedule in a city in driving distance he had better be ready to share some bed space and a pillow with us.

Our next road trip was back to Chattanooga! I guess we have a love for Tennessee!

Do you have anything that has worked well on your road trips with kids?
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6 Tips for a Road Trip Alone with kids