My Road Trip Survival Guide – How I Survived 8 Hour Road Trips Alone with Two Kids
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My Road Trip Survival Guide – How I Survived 8 Hour Road Trips Alone with Two Kids

by Alicia in New posts, Travel

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My kids are 12 and 5 years old.  They love each other but aren’t the best of friends. I’m sure you understand if you have kids who are far apart in age.  My 12 year old hardly acknowledges that my 5 year old exists and when he does it’s often to correct her, poke at her, or ask her to do something for him.

Therefor, I was pretty nervous about driving the kids to Florida (from our home in Atlanta) alone as I’ve never driven the kids to Florida by myself before and I never know when they are going to be at each other’s throats. Well not really but you know what I mean.   My husband and parents didn’t want me to drive the kids by myself in case something happened with the car or the kids during the drive.  And me being the paranoid girl that I am, I think about the kids getting car sick (it’s happened before!), getting a flat tire, accidents, traffic, the rushed need for a restroom when there’s none around, etc and those thoughts usually consume me.  However, I didn’t let those thoughts consume me this time.  Mostly because I was consumed with the fact that my 5 year old and I had just gone to urgent care the day before our trip and I found out that I had a sinus infection requiring anti-biotics and steroids and she had something that required anti-biotics.  I was just hoping to get there and to feel better the next day.  Little did I know that 7 days later, I’d be fighting a different infection and working from bed.

Welcome to Florida

Here are a few things that I did to ensure that I and the kids had a fun, safe, happy, and successful 8 hour road trip to Florida and back last week:

Keep them Fed!

  • Packed lots of cups of water
  • Brought pre-portioned Snacks
  • Included fruits & veggies in their snack bags
  • Plastic plates and utensils

Keep things Fun!

  • Activity Tray for each child
  • DVD’s that they agreed on before hand
  • iPad – full charged with a few new apps installed
  • Blank paper to color and write on
  • Pencil box with crayons and colored pencils
  • Sticker books (for my 5 year old)
  • Nook Color (for my 12 year old)
  • Wireless headphones for kids

Keep the kids and car Clean!

  • Trash bag for each child to use
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand towel for each child
  • Full size towel for each child (cover with while eating)
  • Toilet seat covers (a MUST for rest area and restaurant restrooms!)

Keep the kids Comfortable!

  • Pillow Pets
  • Sun Shades
  • Blankets
  • Dramamine (my daughter gets car sick)


Preparing for the trip:

A week before departure:

  • Had oil changed and tires rotated
  • I signed up for AAA
  • Made sure I had all necessary safety equipment and manuals in the car
  • Talked to my son about being responsible for his sister while I was driving and what that meant.  My son is a Boy Scout and prides himself on being able to handle many emergency situations (which he’s had to do in the past) so my family and I felt comfortable that he could help in the case of a flat tire or other minor vehicular emergency but I needed to make sure that he understood that I wouldn’t be able to stop when my daughter needed a drink, snack, or a toy and that he needed to help out with her while I was driving.
  • Bought sun shades for the kids windows
  • Bought activity trays for the kids to use during the trip

Two days before departure:

  • Pack clothes
  • Pack each child a bag with activities to do in the car
  • Washed and set out two cups for each of us to use during the trip
  • I chose and packed DVD’s for the kids to watch in the car
  • I downloaded podcasts (love Leo Laporte’s tech podcasts!) for me to listen to while the kids watched a movie (via their wireless headphones)
  • Pack medications
  • I packed a ‘throw up kit’ containing a tupperware bowl, extra clothes, and wipes.  My daughter gets car sick.

The night before departure:

  • Pack toiletries
  • Pack kid’s bedtime books
  • Put everything in the car
  • Programed our destination in my iPhone GPS app
  • Pack important daily medications
Morning of departure:
  • Put kid’s blankets and pillow pets in the car
  • I put a DVD in the player so I wouldn’t have to pull over to put one in
  • Filled one cup with ice and water for each of us
  • Filled the cooler with fruits, veggies, cheese strings, ice, and drinks
  • Packed chargers for phones, camera, and iPad

Off we went!

The trip started with a few games of I Spy and then we listened to some Kidz Bop.  The kids didn’t ask to watch a movie or play on the iPad for the first hour and half.. almost two hours.  Impressive for a road trip if you ask me.  To be hontest, I was just waiting for them to We stopped three times.  Twice at rest stops and once at a McDonalds.  I was bummed that I couldn’t find a Chick-Fil-A around lunchtime so next time I will plan our lunch stop before leaving the house.  My son slept on and off during the trip but my daughter who is not a fan of sleeping during road trips finally fell asleep about an hour from Orlando.  She played with her sticker books and watched quite a bit of Curious George but she was happy and I was able to drive safely and distraction free, getting us to our destination safely.

I hope my road trip survival guide helps you on your next road trip adventure whether you’re travelling alone or with a spouse with your kids.

Do you have any road trip tips to share with our readers?  Tell us in the comments below.

Alicia Hagan, Editor

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission when you buy something. If you'd like to know more about the links featured in my posts, how I do and choose reviews, or choose advertisers, check out The Mommy Insider editorial policy.

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