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Keep Your Sanity Holiday Travel

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It IS Important To Keep Your Sanity During Holiday Travel – Someone Has To Drive, Right?!?

It’s that time to go see family during the holidays, which usually means travel.  With 5 kids, and back in the day of old fashioned entertainment (not a bad thing really) while riding together, I said a lot of:

Do NOT breathe on each other

Do NOT touch him/her

Do NOT bother him/her

Do NOT throw anything, including your sister/brother out the window

Do NOT look at your brother/sister

And of course no road trip would be considered worth any consequence, or even packing the first bag, if it didn’t include the obligatory Kijillion times of me hearing a voice whining/moaning/complaining:   ‘Are We There Yet’

Yeah…sometimes the joys of parenthood….

However, we have AMAZING memories we wouldn’t trade as a family of road trips and that made it ALL worth it – and I’m sure you do too! 

Actually road trips give time for families to bond, talk, visit and learn about each other with this time together.  Putting away technology and talking, playing games and listening to books will provide experiences that will be cherished and bring a closeness that cannot be purchased or planned; I promise.  Give it a try for just a portion of the drive at least.  We still talk and laugh about the times in the cars or trucks on road trips we had as a family.  GOOD TIMES!!!

I have  put together some ideas for you to keep everyone busy and HAPPY, no matter the age, while traveling.  Also some car safety tips before beginning your drive. But first a story about a cassette tape.

On one particular longer road trip we were listening to a book series on cassette tapes (do you know what those even are? Google it) which ALL my kids were enthralled and captivated in the narrative.  The story was actually holding the attention of all ages!  Then, the unspeakable happened – – – – –

Our cassette tape player in the old suburban broke right when we were about three-fourths through the book! Not only that, I had timed it so the book would end about the time we would be close to our home….oh the awfulness of our situation was almost too much to bear.  Especially for me.  Mom’s always seem to ‘get’ or ‘take on’ the responsibility of making it fun, and dang it we were going to have F.U.N! I wasn’t sure how now….

This was downright tragic on many levels and I’ll tell you why:

First of all, it was as though we had achieved Shambala.  Now, for those of you who are younger I will explain.  I listened to ‘Three Dog Night” growing up and they sang a song about Shambala, which is a mythical place where there is always kindness, cooperation and where joy abounds.  When you are traveling long distances in a vehicle with five kids ranging in ages from child to teenager; that fact alone was enough to give anyone stomach acid of large proportions. I’m sure you can understand why Shambala was a delightful fantasy for which I longed as we drove in the heat, with the windows down (the air conditioner usually didn’t work at this point), the tape player blaring. All five kids insisting on quiet so they could hear the story with anticipated excitement to see how the adventure would unfold.

In addition to that, I had talked my husband into this trip.  You have to understand that we often took the family on camping trips and outings where they could all get out and run, have space and ‘be free’!  Stan traveled quite extensively for a living; sometimes he was home only a few days a month at that point.  So trapping him in a vehicle with FIVE noisy, sometimes fighting and arguing kids for h-o-u-r-s and d-a-y-s was a test on many levels.  I didn’t have to nag them, nor bribe (not too much anyway) to be good because they were wrapped into the story so I could snuggle next to Stan as we drove.

Once the tape player broke we drove a while, then decided to check into the hotel early so Stan and our middle son, who was maybe twelve at the time, could try to fix it. This son was always mechanically inclined (like the time he was two or three years old and undid the bent wood rocking chair with a toy screw driver as his grandfather sat in it!).  As the rest of us went in to get dinner fixed and settled in the room, Stan and our son actually took apart the dashboard with the few basic tools Stan had in the truck buried under all our ‘stuff’ right there in the parking lot of the hotel.  They did all they could to fix the cassette player, working late into the night under the light of the street lamp and the few flashlights they fished out of the camping gear.  Unfortunately, no luck.

So, the next best thing.  Walmart.  We bought a cheap cassette player and the kids took then turns holding in it the middle section of the old suburban, turning it up as loud as the thing would play so everyone could hear – the ‘rest of the story’.

***I occasionally go on business trips with Stan when he drives long distances and we will listen to audio books and currently we are listening to the FULL Les Mis. Did you know it’s 26 hours!  I am loving it.  What are you listening to?


I have links for games and fabulous resources and ideas to help make your road trip easier and SAFER too.

Travel Ideas 2

 It’s a really good idea to make sure your car is ready for a road trip. Sometimes we forget to check the basics.  I have a list that you might find helpful.  Click HERE

I found TWO amazing posts with TONS of ideas to help entertain and keep kiddos busy and H.A.P.P.Y.  Can you ask more than that? I say NO!!!

20 best ideas, activities, and resources for road trips with kids by It’s Always Autumn.  You’ve GOT to check this out HERE.

50+ Ideas for Car Trip FUN! Don’t pass this up, click HERE

Playing games with the kids while riding together is a fabulous way to interact, get to know each other and make great memories.  I found some on Amazon that look really fun

Click HERE to go to this game

Ever go on long trips and wish you had a way to keep your kids occupied without relying on the DVD player and video games? “Are we there yet?” solves this problem by providing over 140 Games, Riddles and Tongue Twisters that require no more than a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Many games require nothing more than your imagination and the objects around you.

The games are appropriate for all ages and many can be played with children as young as three years old. All that is required is the ability to have fun! Pretty soon, instead of asking “are we there yet?” your kids will be saying, “Are we there already?”

You’ll never want to take another trip without taking along “Are We There Yet?” and enjoying hours of family fun.

Click HERE to go to this game

Pack your bags and get ready to hit the road with this latest installment of family fun! You can help create car songs, spot some historical sights, even stop at a roadside diner–with a Mad Libs? twist, of course!

Many have tried to imitate the world’s most popular word game, but they just can’t ___VERB___ the mustard! With Mad Libs? on the Road, traveling has never been so wacky!



 Spot it! Vacation/Travel Set: Spot it! Splash, Spot it! On the Road, Spot it! Gone Camping

  • Award-winning game of visual perception for the whole family
  • There is always one and only one matching symbol between two cards. Spot it fast to win!
  • Five challenging ways to play for hours of frenzied fun for 2 to 8 players
  • Develops focus, visual perception skills, speech-language skills, and fine motor skills
  • Splash is WATERPROOF!

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

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Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For More Posts On This Topic:

A Mother’s Shadow’ a novel by Carrie Groneman

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Family Time Ideas

Family Time Ideas

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  1. Melinda says:

    Thanks for the great story! And allt the resources you’ve gathered for us.

  2. Aw, your story totally made me smile as the ending truly was perfect and I do hear a lot of, “Are We There Yets?” from both my girls, so appreciate and all help we can get for traveling and keeping a bit of sanity in check at the same time. Thanks so much, Carrie! 🙂

  3. Diane Roark says:


    I get asked all the time “Why are you driving?” We drive everywhere we go on vacation with maybe two exceptions over the past 30 years. It is a 16 hour drive to Disney World and we have been several time. We pass a lot of time by listening to Adventures in Odyssee by Focus on the Family. It gets so exciting that we have often had to stop to go to the bathroom but everyone wanted to just hold it. LOVE LOVE adventures in Odyssee. We had most of the old cassettes and now CD’s. They have been worth every penny we paid for them. Now that my kids are older teens and adults, we still listen to Adventures in Odyssee.
    Thanks for sharing all these great ideas.

    • I agree Diane, that driving gives time for families to bond and talk IF the opportunity is taken that is. I have not heard of ‘Adventures in Odyssee by Focus on the Family’ and will definitely have to look into that one. THANK you for suggesting that for all of us to have. I really appreciate your insight and advice, it really is great!

  4. Tasha says:

    You were in quite the predicament, weren’t you? lol YouTube is a great resource for travel busy bags as well! When we went on our last road trip last Christmas, I made busy bags for the two year old while the 7 & 9 year old played with legos the entire trip. It’s a lot more easier to travel with kids nowadays than it was before all this technology. You’ve provided a great list of resources that will keep lil ones engaged and busy as well! Great job!

    • That is a GREAT idea Tasha! Thank you so much for giving us the tip of YouTube and the travel busy bags and other resources there. I sure appreciate your compliment and always your visit!!!

  5. Delsi says:

    Haha I remember our car rides 🙂 great memories!

  6. You’re a life saver Carrie! We decided to take our 3 boys (leaving our daughter home) on a family vacation road trip from MN to GA next month for their Christmas present! I love the links you shared for games etc. I need to check them out so we can actually enjoy this trip and it wont be a headache!! Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday!

    • Thank you Alli:) You are so welcome and I’m thrilled the timing is right to help you. Make sure to read the comments from AMS readers, they had terrific suggestions too. Have a safe and fun trip this holiday!

  7. Jess says:

    Wow…what a great idea!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

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