We are having a series of tips and tricks that have helped us on our last road-trip. We drove through 9 states and spent nearly 60 hours in the car with three kids aged 3, 2 & 1. Crazy.   Some of the things we used to help us maintain our sanity included: buckets, plastic Easter eggs, ipods, fruit leather, balloons and a portable potty to help make our trip more bearable.   Here is part 2 of some of our car-sanity ideas, the ones that worked! . . .

I Spy:

We had I Spy toys (like the shakey bottles and books), but we also played a version of I Spy while driving.   Even my 17m old loved participating!   Each age level played in a different way.   With my four year old I could describe items and have her guess what she was looking for… with my almost 3 year old I’d ask him to hunt for all the “gray” items in our car, or all the places where he could see trash on the side of the road (or in the car, that was helpful come clean-up time).   He also loved pointing out each and every water tower we drove by.   With my youngest, I Spy, was a bit more obvious.   I see a red truck (as the red truck passes us) we’d all point and she’d shriek joining in the pointing fun!   This was a great way to keep conversation flowing when your mind is drowsy. .

Box of Books:

We had a morning and an afternoon “quiet time”.   In the morning I gave the kids books to read during the quiet time.   The older kids got to share a box of books between their seats, my youngest got her single book to play with and read (hopefully, dozing).     They also got a snuggle item.   The first day this was difficult.   The kids did not want to have a quiet time and kept asking for   items/whining.   I am amazed at how quickly kids can learn a new routine!   By Day 2 they knew what quiet time meant and by the last day of driving they anticipated it and had book requests and settled right in! .

Complicated snacks:

Giving a simple snack (like pretzel or a cookie) works, but we found that snack time could double as play time.   We got snack sized bags and would put a mixture of snacks in them.   The kids got to play I spy with their food – they loved that!   Also, apples given whole take a long time for them to eat.   Other complicated snacks we enjoyed included fruit leather with another item (ex: pretzel stick) and the kids could play pretend with their food, making a scroll, a Tee-pee, pretending the fruit leather was a blanket for their toy, etc.   Come back later for a post on how to make your own fruit leather!   It’s in the works! .

In-Car Potty:

Two of our three kids are potty-trained (and our third thinks she is – but is no where near full control).     This potentially could mean tons of stops for their tiny bladders!   We would limit drinks till half an hour before our next stop (we stopped every 2 hours, one a quick pull-off and in-car potty time, the other a get-gass and coffee stop).   Having a potty in the car meant that we didn’t have to unpack the kids, we could just pull off into a rest area or onto the side of the road, let the kids go in the training potty chair, dump it (if it was liquid, solids we disposed of) and get back on the road in under 10 min.   It was great to not have to worry about bringing multiple young children into a public bathroom as often.   The Bambino potty is pretty low, perfect size as it fits nicely under the back seat.     I also like how it is one-piece, no nooks and crannies, just wipe out and store!

What are some of your sanity-saving road trip tips?   Please share them in the comments!

Thanks to Evelyn for the use of a photo!

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  1. Books on CD/mp3. The last road trip we took, our son spend a lot of time listening to audio books–which you can get from the library to take along!

  2. Great ideas! We do the whole apple thing to, love the fruit leather and pretzel stick idea and the box of books! We don’t go many places with out our little potty! 🙂
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