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How to Survive for Many Hours on a Car Trip

Updated on March 16, 2013
On a road trip!
On a road trip! | Source

Are We There Yet?!?

How many times have you heard that on a road trip? For many people, the possibility of a road trip sets off both excitement and dread. This article will give some good, workable ideas to help prepare for any road trip. The intent is to keep the excitement and drop the dread! These ideas are good for both short and long road trips.

I love to travel, whether it is by car or plane. Many of my trips have been due to necessity but just as many have been for recreation. We have taken many road trips that are only several hours and we have taken more than a few that have lasted several days. We have made cross-country moves (3 times). I have traveled alone and with the kids. I have shared the driving and done it all myself. I've gotten pretty good at this and actually, the last 1700 mile trip we took was a breeze! So much so that we plan to do it again, only longer!

Tips about Travel Games

  • Be careful to get games that don't have too many loose pieces. If you lose one in the car, it will be difficult to find it and could cause more upset than it is worth.
  • Don't bring things that jostle either. Board games that have markers on them are a prime example. If the car slows down or speeds up abruptly, all your pieces will move.
  • Obviously, in this day and age, electronic games are the most practical. Make sure you have extra batteries, chargers and cords.
  • Also, be sure to have plenty of headphones or earplugs. Not everyone is going to want to hear everyone else's music or games.

Games You Can Play in the Car

Some of the old "tried and true" games are still around and still fun. In addition, there are new games that you can play. My family likes to adapt some of the games that we play at home into travel friendly versions. There are also many travel games that you can purchase. We try to play games that can include, but don't distract the driver. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. 20 questions (or any number you choose)
  2. A version of "I Spy" only we say "I'm thinking of..."
  3. The license plate game
  4. Name that tune
  5. Add on Story. One person starts a story with one sentence. Each person adds a sentence on their turn.
  6. Initial game. You name a category and each person has to come up with a word for that using the first letter of their name. For example: Vegetables is the category. My name is Randi so I choose Radishes. Ben chooses Beets and Cathy chooses Carrots.
  7. Alphabet game. This is a variation on the above game. We name the catagory. The first person has to give a word starting with the letter A, the second gets B and so on.
  8. Last, but never least on a road trip....Sing-A-Long. We like to choose songs to match the cities we are visiting. Some examples: Oklahoma, I Left my Heart in San Francisco, Sweet Home Alabama, New York State of Mind, The Night They Drove Ol Dixie Down, California Dreamin', Midnight Train to Georgia, Do you know the way to San Jose? See how many you can come up with!

Enjoy a little music while you read!


I have been taking road trips or cross country moves since I was a little girl. Here are a few of the places I have traveled to by auto:

  1. New York to Denver
  2. Denver to Chicago
  3. Chicago to New York (Multiple trips).
  4. New York to Florida
  5. New York to Washington, D.C.
  6. Chicago to St. Louis and back (Multiple trips)
  7. Chicago to Indianapolis to St Louis
  8. Chicago to Phoenix

And the list goes on.

Tips to make Long road Trips seem Shorter.

Expect the unexpected. Things happen. Try not to sweat them. We started having car trouble in Oklahoma. I googled the nearest mall and we brought the car to Sears Auto.I did this for two reasons. I was looking for a chain and generally Sears are in shopping malls so we would have a place to hang out while we waited for our car. It turned out to be about a five hour delay but it was spent pleasantly.

Make rules for your trip. Duscuss ahead of time what things you can and can't tolerate. Some people get annoyed ny certain sounds. Other's can't stand certain smells. There are people who can only sit in a particular place in the car (and I'm not taking about shotgun!) and in restarants, too.

Discuss the frequency of stops. Decide on what you would consider to be reasonable distance to drive before a rest break. Again, refer to number one, Expect the unexpected. Someone may need the bathroom before the appointed time. Or you may be approaching a long stretch of road without any rest stops for a while. You may also just decide to stop and enjoy the sights.

The Longest Road trip I have taken by distance

show route and directions
A markerLong Island, New York -
Long Island, New York, USA
get directions

B markerDenver, Co -
Denver, CO, USA
get directions

This was the longest road trip I took as a child, seconded only by my more recent trip from Chicago to Phoenix.

Be prepared for all possibilities on longer car trips.

Although you don't want to load up the car with too many unnecessary things, you don't always know what you may need. Draw upon your past experiences to solve part of that problem. For example, if one of the occupants of the car has a tendency to motion sickness, make sure you have all the provisions necessary for that person to be most comfortable. Conversely, if no one has gotten sick before, that doesn't mean it can't happen this time! You should always bring something against car sickness with you. I always pack a first aid kit. I stock up on everything and then add at least a day's supply of each person's regular medication (if they take any). This way, if anything happens to their things or they forget their medicine at home, there is time to get to a pharmacy and get them more. I also keep a small, empty backpack in the car. If we decide to stop and take a walk/hike or visit to the mall, we can throw everything we'll need for a small sidetrip.

What You MUST have in your Car for Road Trip Success!

Two of the main reasons that road trips are difficult is boredom and discomfort. Discomfort can be as severe as car sickness or as minor as to not being comfortable having to stay in the same place for a long period of time.

  • pillows.
  • Individual music players and earphones/headphones.
  • Plastic bags.
  • Lemons (quartered)
  • Motion sickness medication.
  • Water.
  • Snack items.
  • wash and dries or wipes.
  • hand sanitizer
  • extra clothes
  • paper towels

Road Trips with Kids

Travelling with children is much different than travelling with adults. For one thing, for such small little bodies, they sure do take up a lot of space! They need all kinds of equipment and they love/need to be entertained!

Different age children have different needs. if your children are older, involve them in the planning of the trip. Talk to them about where you are going, what your expectations and what you need from them.They can research the routes and see if there are places to visit. It gives them the opportunity to choose what they want to have with them where we may stop along the way. Kids love being a part of something like this. It gives them ownership and shows them that you respect and value their opinion.

If your children are smaller, you can still involve them. You nay have a toddler pick out a few toys. You may also have him/her carry their own small backpack or tote with their own things inside. You can have them practice songs for the trip and pick out music to play or DVDs. Again, this gives them ownership.

Always make sure you have extras of everything they need in a handy place. You should have one change of clothes for everyone easily accessible, as well as extra diapers and bottles.

Snacks to Pack for a Road Trip

Meals on road trips can often be sporadic and less than healthy. While we may not have much contro; over that, we do have control on what we bring with us. Before we leave for a trip, I make a visit to the bulk food store. I pick out family favorites but I also make small individual bags for each person. I choose their favorite snacks and make them a few bags. This gives them something they are sure to like, keeps from having any arguments about someone hogging the bag of trail mix and makes them aware of just how many snacks they can have before it runs out. I do the same with gum! I do buy a granola bars, fruit and other things for communal sharing.

Don't bring things that perish or melt in the car. Don't bring foods that are very messy and sticky. Avoid things that have a lot of packaging (or put in a more simple container.) Make sure that what you bring can opened easily

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Individual snacks.These arew my two favorites. One has pockets for dry things or as wallet and is perfect for taking to events! The other has drink holders on top!Smaller pillows and cases!
Individual snacks.
Individual snacks. | Source
These arew my two favorites. One has pockets for dry things or as wallet and is perfect for taking to events! The other has drink holders on top!
These arew my two favorites. One has pockets for dry things or as wallet and is perfect for taking to events! The other has drink holders on top! | Source
Smaller pillows and cases!
Smaller pillows and cases! | Source

Equipment you may need on a long Road Trip.

We used to bring pillows and blankets off of our beds. Inevitably, they would get stepped on, spilled on and/or sometimes left behind in a motel room. They can also be big and bulky. I purchased everyone small travel pillows and cases. I buy small fleece blankets whenever I see them on sale. They easy to tuck away in a corner but are comfy in the car and add a touch of home in a hotel room!

I used to carry a big cooler in the car so that we could have cold drinks and fruit throughout the trip. The problem with that is that it took up way too much space and was very heavy to take in and out if we were staying overnight. In recent years, I have purchased two softside insulated carriers. They both have great features. One even has two cup holders! The other one looks like a tote and is great to use when going to events, also. It has a separate pocket for dry things. They both hold a ggood amount of food and drinks. I bring a few freezer packs with me. If we are staying in a hotel/motel I can refreeze them. If not, I just buy bags of ice as we need them.

I also carry an old bedsheet or tablecloth for an impromptu picnic.


Above all, Have Fun!!

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Olympia to Vermont...three times! I have always loved road trips. I should have been a long haul truck driver. :) My parents knew to buy me tons of comics and then I was good as a kid.

      Good suggestions! Have a great day and I hope your next road trip is an exciting one.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I am so happy to be living in one place....The trips to Oregon took three days with cats. Mostly they were pretty good, but would hide in the mattress and we had to turn the bed upside down. Also the longer days were 12 plus hours. Now we go to the boat..7 hours and it seems like nothing. You have lots of great suggestions here.. Snacks, games ..great. Hint ....Hint. it is only 1.5 hours to my house.. so when are you coming?????????????????????Voting up and sharing and pinning.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      I would love to 'survive' in a car trip with you my fabulous Randi.

      In fact we wouldn't be driving, we would be parkin'..........

      lol

      Sending you my sincere warmest wishes to you and your family (both two legs and four) at lake erie time 1:15pm and just waking up after night shift

      I always love your interesting array of hub subjects - you cover it all Randi with impeccable skill and a true writing talent

    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 4 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      I've always loved road trips and have many fond memories, which include several of the games you listed. On one 1,800 mile road trip with my granddaughter, my wife suggested to my granddaughter that she document the trip by drawing what she liked/discovered along the way. She was 4 years old at the time and she ended up creating a beautiful account of the trip. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This hub certainly brought back memories of my younger days of moving across country and traveling with my children in the car. You listed many good tips that will keep the whole family happier and let the time pass more quickly. Well done.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great tips and all those necessary things, yes. You always end up with something you forgot, you know? A list and check it twice for all these things. Well done!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Bill! Maybe the next road trip will be to your neck of the woods!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Carol! I was thinking the very same thing! Only 1.5 hours! Well I switch jobs in a week and hopefully I will have a regular schedule. Thank you for your votes, shares and pinning!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Although we loved road trips, we never tried anything , by car, beyond approx. 500 miles.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Good luck with your new job..I knew you were thinking about it. Hope it turns out great...ANd I will hold you to the promise..

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      btrbell, this is a most useful hub. I love all your ideas for games and going to play them all.

      Voted up and excellent!

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 4 years ago from USA

      Very useful tips and I plan on going on a roadtrip even for the day so it is helful. Good info!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Colin, I thank you very, very much. I consider your words a great compliment from an esteemed writer such as yourself! Love to you all!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      INFJay, thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing a great idea!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Martin, to be honest, the longer troops were cross country moves! Thanks for stopping by!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Carol! It's a promise I'm happy to be held to!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you Pamela! Your visit and comments are much appreciated!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Jackie! Isn't that the truth? I am always forgetting something, no matter how well planned out I am!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Martie! So nice to see you here. Enjoy the games! Sometimes we play them when we are not traveling!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, schoolgirl! Nice to see you here! If you go, have a great trip!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Though it's been quite a long time since I've taken a road trip by car, I did my share. I even recall (and this is decades ago) traveling long distances by car with children. Ah! Did this call for patience! Your ideas are great. Wish I'd had them back then....

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Jaye! I appreciate your comments and votes! I am also glad my kids are grown. It was s lot of work!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant read Randi and I vote up plus share. Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Eddy, you are way too kind! Thank you sooo much! You have a great day, too!

    • livelifeworryfree profile image

      Princess Clark 4 years ago from The DMV

      Love! Love this hub! Like you I'm a roadster. I traveled cross country by car so many times I could make my head spin. When you have four kids that's the only way to travel and still have cash to spend. Love the idea of bringing the table cloth for an impromptu picnic. These are really fun ideas. Can't wait until it warms up to try them. Thanks so much!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, thank you, Princess! We have fun! Hope you do, too! Enjoy!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Yes, I remember the, "Are we there yet?" question, over and over. hahaha

      Thanks for this useful hub here for long road trips, especially with children!!!

      Excellent write.

      Voted up +++ and sharing

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Faith! Your comments and votes are much appreciated! xo

    • ryanjhoe profile image

      ryanjhoe 4 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      Great hub! I used to listening some music during long trip and snacking also good for me. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Abby Campbell 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Great tips, Randi! :-)

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, ryanjhoe! The snacks are probably my favorite part of the trip!

    • everymom profile image

      Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Voted up, useful, funny, awesome and interesting! It brought back memories of my childhood road trips (we would travel in a huge station wagon - yes, I'm _that_ old, LOL! - and my dad would put the back seat down and an oversize twin bed mattress in the back of the car. It seems like way too much work to me, but it _was_ lots of fun as kids...like having a magic bedroom that took you everywhere!). Thanks, Randi!

    • everymom profile image

      Anahi Pari-di-Monriva 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Oh, yeah...and of course I shared! :)

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Abby!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Anahi! Did you guys have the staion wagon with the backwards bck seat? Or is that dating me even more?! Thank you so much for your encouraging comments! And shares! I am so. so behind....didn't think I'd make it this month. Bow I will need to spend some time catching up!

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      This article makes me want to go on a road trip! I haven't in a long time but can't for a while either. :( Oh well, I'll live vicariously through your hubs.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Looks like we will both be living vicariously for a while , Carolyn. Like you, I am somewhat grounded for a while. My biggest trip will probably be about an hour and a half to visit fellow hubber, Carol7777! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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