How to Keep the Peace on Family Trips

Can you hear, “Are we there yet?!?!?” and “He touched me!!@#!!” already? If taking a family trip sounds more stressful than fun, here are five tips to help you prepare.

Chevy Chase and the family in National Lampoon's Vacation. Warner Bros. 1983

These simple, low cost ideas will help you keep the peace when traveling as a family this Memorial Day weekend and all summer long.


  • Give yourself a $10 budget per child.
  • Think maze books and all things arts and crafts.
  • Remember, pencils don’t stain like markers or melt like crayons.
  • Be sure to tuck away one or two things for the ride home.


  • It’s FREE! Make time to hit the library a day or so before leaving town and stock up.
  • Bring the kiddos and let each child check out 5 or so new BOOKS so you know they’ll like them.
  • Also check out the books on tape/CD’s, new kids music and family movies that you can enjoy together.
  • Download audiobook classics to your ipod like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There were 70+ titles available at my local library in the juvenile fiction section alone.
  • Again, remember to set aside a few things you check out in a bag marked RIDE HOME. You’ll be glad to have a few new things to keep the kids occupied for the trip home.


Let the kids know what you are going to do and then vary the activities. Saving something you KNOW they’ll love for the end so they have it to look forward to. Write it out and check them off as you go. Here are two examples:

  • Listen to one entire kids music CD (their pick), have 10 minutes of quiet reading time, play a car game (I spy with my little eye, etc…) and THEN watch a movie.
  • Read along to a book on tape, do a craft, sing a few songs and THEN have a snack.


  • Plan ahead for snacks and smaller meals like breakfast and/or lunch.
  • This little bit of preperation will saves you time and money.
  • Pre-package snacks in zip locks in individual portion sizes to minimize spills and children fighting over who gets to hold the bag or who has more.
  • Pack healthy “ROAD FOOD”- sweet ‘n salty snacks: grapes, frozen yogurt sticks, chocolate milk, fruit leathers, sun chips, nuts, etc. Gives kids the energy boost without the sugar crash.


  • Set a family rule that WHENEVER THE CAR STOPS, EVERYONE VISITS THE BATHROOM… whether they “think” they have to or NOT.
  • Get the kids moving!!! Bring jump ropes they can play with right there by the car as you fuel up; do jumping jacks; play “Simon Says”; run laps around the gas station (with them for safety).
  • Plan to stop for one meal like dinner if traveling all day. -Plot out restaurant options you know your family enjoys that are typically close to the highway like Cracker Barrel, Panera, Subway, etc.

In summary, if you want to enjoy a trip to and from where ever you are going as a family, remember, a little bit of preparation goes a LONG way. Happy trails, and be sure to share your favorite tips with me below as well. What works and what doesn’t with your kiddos?


  1. I love these ideas! Whenever I travel on car trips with my daughter, I always get crazy dollar store gifts and wrap them so she has something to open every hour or so. I love the idea of using the library for resources. Thanks for the post!

  2. Thank you for sharing these ideas. Driving long distances with my 9 year old can be a trying experience, to say the least!


  1. […] My Mommy Manual has some great tips for your summer vacation, especially if you’re going to be stuck in the car for quite a while: How to Keep the Peace on Family Trips. […]

  2. […] asked for the millionth time “Are we there yet?”. We love all the great travel tips at My Mommy Manual. They have practical, inexpensive ways to keep your travel time peaceful. Read the full article […]