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Road Trip From PA to CA

Updated on May 16, 2014

Road trip Snacks


A favorite pass time in the car while taking a long trip is snacking on those foods we stay away from any other time. Snack packing is a good thing but do not over load the car with too many. The long trip from PA to CA can get dull with the same snack food all day every day. On a road trip like this packing some snacks is essential, especially if you have kids.

  • Around every other two hour mark begin looking for a Target, Walmart, K-mart, as you get closer to CA K-mart is more prevalent. Those places usually have a food section, so you can knock out several tasks at once.
  • After using the restrooms visit the food section and find some new snack which will interest everyone. When kids are with you let them pick out their snack & drinks this will give them control over something during the trip


  • pick a restaurant, and take a rest, get out use the restrooms, stretch your legs and eat, slowly, tempting as it can be do not rush yourself
  • if traveling with children for this trip and you eat at a restaurant find one which you can walk around , some places will have a path the kids can walk around, I have seen some have a walking trail which goes around every restaurant and has a pond with ducks
  • another way to have lunch is to pick something up and then find a rest stop on the highway, yes, these still exist and some are very nice
  • have kids scooter,bike play with chalk or soccer while you are at the rest stop, eat and let them play some more


Personally I prefer to not watch anything until I am at the hotel. That being said when traveling with children during the last part of the leg of the day they become restless. Pack some movies they can watch during the trip. On a trip from PA to CA I chose to have the kids watch DVDs after lunch. I would set it up while we were having our lunch stop then tell them after the first gas stop following lunch we begin the movie. That way they do not get too bored with DVD. On a long road trip everything has to stay fresh, the snacks, lunch, toys, etc. Making the day as redundant as the road can make a long road trip a trip through hell.

Planning For a Road Trip

Before you even walk out the door, planning is essential to such a long drive, going from the East Coast to the West Coast. Do a self check to make sure you are mentally prepared for what this trip really entails. Road trips can be fun but they are usually a lot of work and if you add the kids it is a lot more work.

Although we would all like to just hit the road and wonder around and when we get tired just find a spot to lay our heads but we are no longer in the years of exploration where setting up camp fires, finding traveling companions to share some kettle beans with and sharing stories of who we know and what is happening in our part of the country happens any more.

Drifter VS Mapper

When planning your trip figure out if you prefer to be a drifter or mapper. Both kinds of travelers can have their fun. Remember though if you are traveling with children, check their temperament as well. Just because you think it is fun to camp out after a long day on the road does not mean your kid will feel the same way. Figuring this out on the road can mean a much longer trip and rougher nights.

If you prefer being out in the air and meeting people while you travel I suggest finding state campsites along the way or some KOA sites are very nice and right off the highway. Being at a campground will allow you to set up a tent/trailer, build a fire and usually what comes next is some conversation from the guy across the way. Over the years when I have gone camping I have met several people who were very wonderful and I enjoyed spending time with them while camping. They usually have advice on where to go next or how to avoid some more scary campsites. When traveling with children an advantage to camping along the way is the physical activity the kids get when you stop to set up camp. KOA camps and some state park campsites have playgrounds for kids or pools for them to go swimming. Also, just having them help gather sticks, run and play or ride bikes in the evening is a way for them to stretch their bodies following a long day of car riding.

If you prefer sleeping on a bed in a hotel without all the work of building a fire, setting up camp and making dinner then your approach is a little different. Hotels will usually have dining facilities either in the them or nearby. Some times when I travel I will pick up dinner as I exit off for my hotel. As with camping at sites along the way I suggest planning ahead. Plot out how many miles/hours you want to be driving. It feels so good to have a place to aim for, and know when you get there you have a reservation. Too many times people get stuck having to travel longer or staying in hotel that is a tad sketchy because they thought they could just drive till they got tired and find a hotel. Throughout the nation there are always, fairs, rodeos, conventions, roundup, etc which take place in all of the cities from PA to CA. Be sure to make a reservation!

Staying Healthy on the Road

When we travel we can run into health issues. Too much sitting, too much candy, not enough sleep. These and much more can lead to unhealthy traveling that can cause harm during or after the trip. If you know you suffer from poor circulation then getting out and walking is your number one goal on a trip this long. People can suffer from blood clots in the legs and pleurisy, which is very painful. Here are some helpful tips from WebMD and road trip health.

  • avoid getting drowsy- if you find your eye lids arr getting heavy, stop get out of the car exercise a little, if a nap is needed, take one
  • in all those traffic jams remember to breathe deeply, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth
  • keep your spine straight or use back support which will help you keep your bask straight during the long trip

Remember, any time you feel frustrated, tired or out of sorts, pull over and take a break. It could save your life the ones you love and strangers who are also on the road.

A sample of a KOA pool
A sample of a KOA pool
A sample of KOA cabin
A sample of KOA cabin

Toys for a Road Trip

Taking toys on a road trip is essential to having a fun time. Even the adults should have some toys too. Here are a list of toys which can be taken easily in the car or camper for kids and adults.

  • balls, all kinds, the high bounce, soccer, tennis, softball, etc
  • bikes
  • scooter/push or ride on toy for younger kids
  • bubble soap and bubble blower
  • sidewalk chalk
  • markers, crayons
  • books, maps of the United States for the kids to keep track of the trip
  • DVD collection
  • small water toy, you know those old school ones we used to play with, where you push the button to put the ring in a basket
  • jump rope
  • ipad or other tablet
  • play dough
  • trains
  • any hand held toy they can play with in their seats

How far have you gone in a road trip?

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  • Remember plan your trip in advance, decide if you want rough it a bit or enjoy a more comfortable nights rest.
  • service car before the trip, ask mechanic if it can make it across the country
  • make a route for you to follow
  • reserve your hotel or campsite in advance
  • Pack plenty of toys for you and the kids for the long haul.
  • stay safe, stop when tired, frustrated or feeling bad
  • stop for walking around to get circulation going again


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