We took our first large family road trip when our baby was just 6 days old. The rest of our kiddos were 2, 4, 5, and 12. On top of that, we were driving 7 and a 1/2 hours north. I know it sounds crazy, but in all honesty, it really wasn’t that bad. You may also be shocked to know that we didn’t do the “drive through the night so the kids will sleep”
not-so trick. Here’s what we did, and you can try too!
My Best Large Family Road Trip Tips
If we didn’t drive through the night and none of our kids own any high-tech electronics, then what in the world did we do to have such a pleasant road trip with 5 kids – 4 of them 5 and under (including a 6-day old newborn!)?
Make the departure as stress-free as possible.
My husband had to help me learn this lesson because I come from a background of, “We are leaving at 5:00 am SHARP, whether you’re ready or not!” Oftentimes I’d go into a trip with this mentality only to find myself scatter-brained and rushing everyone to meet some invisible deadline.
In all actuality, what works really well for us to wake up from a good night’s sleep, take our time loading the van, making sure everyone has peed, and are truly ready to go. This also includes coffee made and put in the travel mugs, other snacks packed, pillows, blankets, etc. Overall, the main goal is to stay relaxed and patient.
Stop as many times as necessary.
Yet another valuable lesson learned, especially when traveling with a newborn, and a fairly new potty-trained toddler. Although I *cough* may still complain a little *cough* about the number of times we may possibly need to stop, they are absolutely okay. The truth of the matter is we will arrive at our final destination at some point in time. And we may as well take our time doing it.
A perk to making several stops along the road trip is the cool things you see and find. For example, at one place we stopped at on our way to Ohio, Bryan landed some amazing fidget spinners in which he felt compelled to buy every family member one. It made the trip more interesting and became an awesome memory (and running joke).
Draw attention to the sights.
The trip to Ohio was mostly busy highways and byways, but there were still spurts of natural wonders that were nice to look at. We’d ask the kids to tell us something interesting they saw, which ended up turning into some pretty cool games. It was also funny to hear a young’n try to explain what they were seeing. It ended up being more of a guessing game than anything, but it was still fun.
Our trip to Georgia was one of the beautiful, thanks to those mountains. And our trip to Kansas was flat, yet steady. Use the surroundings to your advantage!
Rock out to some road trip music.
Our family has a special love for Hebrew worship music. We finally invested in some CDs from our favorite Messianic choir group (yes, we still listen to CDs, LOL!) and will occasionally go for an acapella run. Needless to say, praising and worshiping while on a road trip makes it much more fun and interesting. Sometimes we’ll have the kids pick their favorite songs, and there are times when we’ll hear the same one 4 or 5 times in a row!
Pack snacks but keep the drink intake low.
Depending on how long you’ll be traveling, snacks will usually suffice until you get to your final destination. We usually go for snacks that are in individually wrapped bags for easy passing out and being held by little hands. We carry a few extra bags for trash and we’re set. Each of our kiddos has their own water bottle that we give to them on occasion (and while eating). Keeping their drink intake down means much fewer frequent stops.
Do milestone checks.
Our daughter is the one who is usually the most concerned about us running out of gas. Even if we’re just driving around our hometown, she’ll still ask, “How many miles do we have until we need gas?” So, we’ve actually turned her question into a milestone check “game.” Every so often we’ll talk about how many miles we’ve driven, how many more we have to go, and when we’ll be stopped for more gas. As a homeschooling family, it becomes a neat little lesson on logistics and geography!
Make a big deal about the arrival.
Another subconscious tradition we started was making a big deal about our arrival. When we notice that we’re getting close, we begin to count down the miles. Once we pull into the parking lot or driveway (depending on where we’re staying), we cheer about it. “Yay! We’re here!” This often brings its own level of peace and thankfulness that we arrived safely and are ready to enjoy our time at our destination.
Taking a road trip with a large family can seem intimidating, overwhelming, and stressful. Trust me when I say it was for us at first… until we figured out how to roll with the punches. Instead of seeing frequent stops, a crying baby, and the “Are we there yet?” questions as something negative, we embrace them and see the positive. My tips may not be a one-size-fits-all, but they’re definitely worth trying!
I’d love to hear from you! What are your best large family road trip tips? Let me know in the comments below!