Before we left for Oregon to visit our friends last week, I was excited, but VERY anxious about the long drive with two kids under 5. Google maps estimated it would take us 9 hours and 45 minutes to get to our destination, but with potty breaks and stopping for lunch, we estimated more like 11 to 12 hours. Either way, it was going to be an exhausting day, especially since the longest we had driven with the kids was 5 and a half hours to Disneyland last year.

After driving to Oregon and back, 5 and a half hours seems like nothing! Fortunately, the kids did great and we managed to all survive (without killing each other, ha!). My husband summed it up with: “Driving for ten hours is much different than driving for ten hours with children.” Mirella was probably the biggest trooper, since she still sits rear-facing and really couldn’t join in on any games except for her random babbles (and delirious giggles, towards the end)!

Family road trip

Without doing a lot of prep ahead of time, here are my 5 tips for how we survived our first road trip with kids…

1. New Snacks: To makes things a little more fun and break up the monotony of the long drive, I packed some different snacks than what we usually eat on a regular basis. I packed some homemade trail mix with roasted almonds, dried cherries and dark chocolate pieces, kettle corn, carrot sticks and a few Juice Plus complete bars, of course!

2. Family Games: We certainly played our share of I Spy, but Keenan also loved playing the “story telling game,” as he calls it. One person starts to tell a fictitious story and then the other person adds to it, followed by the next one until it goes back to the person who started it. We came up with quite a few outrageous stories that had us all laughing out loud!

3. Playing DJ: Instead of listening to children’s songs, i.e. Greg and Steve the entire trip, we made a rule that every 30 minutes, someone else got to choose the music. (My husband told Keenan that Mirella “really wanted some Zep”.)

4. Dream It: Another game we all enjoyed was sharing our dreams or things we want to do in life. For example, I asked Keenan, if he could do anything he wanted, what it would it be? Where would he like to go? Two big questions for an almost-5-year-old, but it was fun to listen to his responses. Once he shared his responses, my husband and I shared our dreams. It was fun, because a couple of things Keenan said like riding in a real train or going on a big ship made my husband and I think about planning future vacations by train or cruise ship!

5. The Wonderful World of Video Games: As a last resort when we were all tired and cranky, we let Keenan play a few games and watch a few Shaun The Sheep shows on my nook to make the last couple of hours go by smoothly. Even though I hate to use electronics as a babysitter, it sure helped make things more peaceful when everyone was completely exhausted from driving all day.

All, in all, we survived the two 12 hour drives and had a wonderful time on the Oregon coast with our good friends. It was hard to say goodbye, but we look forward to the next time we all get together (hopefully with a shorter distance to drive!).

oregon vacation


What is the longest road trip you have driven with or without kids?

How do you survive road trips?

What are your favorite road trip snacks?