A cross country road trip is pretty much an inevitable thing when it comes to military life. And having a great list of cross country road trip tips is a must. You often don’t live close to family and sometimes even when you fly home it is still a drive to get where you need to be.
And let’s not forget to mention that the only way to get from one assignment to another is to drive or jump through a lot of loop holes and eventually be out some money because the government does not cover everything.
Currently, we live about four to five hours from family with minimal traffic. We will just pretend LA traffic isn’t a thing. We also like to travel a lot so we have done several road trips these last few years and have collected some road trip tips to help you on your next road trip adventure.
It does not matter if you consider a road trip an hour drive or a drive across the country. These road trip tips can help you as you prepare for any adventure your family has planned. You might have two cars or one. You might be driving alone with an infant to meet up with your husband at training. These road trip tips can help you be better prepared and help make your adventure go a little bit smoother.
My Best 15 Cross Country Road Trip Tips
1. Do Short Trips First
- Help your kids get used to being in the car for longer than 15 minutes by doing road trips that are 30 min to an hour and continue to build as much as possible.
- I recommend no electronic devices be used. It is amazing what kids see while driving around and often will tell you funny stories about the silliest things
2. Take Your Time
- Plan to take lots of breaks
- Plan short driving distances each day with multiple-day trips.
- Set a minimum distance or time you want to travel between stops. When we started road trips it was 30-40 minutes. By the time we traveled cross country I felt comfortable with 100 miles between each stop, but even with that goal sometimes we didn’t make it and sometimes we were able to go longer.
3. Get the Wiggles Out
- Let your kids run, jump and dance to get energy out at rest stops. It is great when you can stop for lunch/dinner at a place that has a play area for kids to run around in.
4. Wait for Your Kids to Get Bored
- One mistake we made when we first starting traveling with kids was thinking our kids wouldn’t survive five minutes without entertainment. We learned to hold off on technology and toys until they ask for them.
- You may be surprised how long they can be entertained without your help and sometimes they even pass out
5. Use Toys to Entertain Kids in the Car
- Eventually, especially on long road trips your kids will be bored so be prepared.
- New Toys Wrapped make exciting gifts to entertain kids
- Interactive Books
- Magnets in Lunch Box/Magnets on Sheet Pans
- Stickers (just be prepared for them to be everywhere)
- Laminated Do A Dot Pages
- Empty Water Bottles for some reason entertaining
- Small toys
- IPAD for when all else fails
6. New Movie
- Buy a new movie for the kids to watch after at least the first stop and as close to your final destination as you can.
- The new movie is also a gift for you. My son likes to watch the same movie over and over. And although we are doing way better on screen time, if I ever have to listen to Cars 2 again…
7. Bring Snacks and Water
- Bring snacks that have to be eaten one at a time and are dry
- gold fish, cereal, raisins, etc.
- Bring seal-able water bottles that your kids can use and fill them with water. Save juice or other drinks for meal time. Water dries, juice just makes a mess
8. Bring Wipes
- Even if your kids are Potty Trained wipes will be your friend on any road trip
9. Bring Toilet Paper and a Little Potty
- It is never bad to have a roll of Toilet Paper in case you need it
- There are apps that tell you where the next bathroom is on your route
- Bring a small toilet that your kids can use in an emergency. This was a life saver when we were potty training, but even used on a trip after we had mastered use of the potty, but the next rest stop wasn’t for at least 20 minutes.
- If you are driving two cars have walkie-talkies. It is a great way to talk back and forth and you don’t have to worry about laws against using cell phone or dead zones.
11. Have a Relative Drive with You
- If you think you need extra help ask to see if any of your family wants to join you on your vacation
12. Have one parent sit in the back
- If you can have one parent in the back it makes it easier to get stuff to kids instead of reaching over.
- Take turns driving and sitting in the back
13. Map out Interesting Stops Along the Way
- You can either watch for interesting tourist stops or have a plan. On our trip we did a little of both.
- Do not be afraid to stop at a random historic site, we went to one of the original Pony Express sites in Tennessee and it was one of the most interesting stops we had.
14. Be prepared for Blow Outs/Accidents
- Have a cloth diaper cover over a normal diaper to help keep in potential blowouts
- Buy pull ups to help kids who are potty training or just completed potty training to avoid accidents, especially during nap time
15. Have Fun
- Your road trip across the country is what you make it. Make it an adventure. Take advantage of getting to see so much of this amazing country.