This is How We Do it: Car Travel

The blog has taken a back seat recently as we moved from Denver back to Kentucky. It’s kind of crazy to live in two places because we are *always* needing something that is at our other home. Jacob is a minimalist (except for his golf gear) and I over pack. Always. I must bring all the things everywhere we go! Hah! I’m the anti-hoarder, but I like to have options, so I cart most of my clothes back and forth depending on where we are living. Jacob on the other hand, has half his wardrobe in each place and just makes do with what he’s got. Opposites attract, I guess!  So when it came time to pack up for the off-season, I took the reins. We ended up with a 5’x8′ U-haul trailer packed to the gills and a loaded down SUV for our 22 hour (counting stops) car ride back to Kentucky. Thankfully, after I packed everything we could still fit our children in the car – but barely!

I know what you’re probably thinking – 22 hours in a car with two small children is crazy! And, you’re right, it is! We’ve all heard it said that “It’s not the destination, but the journey that counts.” Well, friends, that is all a LIE! At least it is when it comes to traveling in a car with a preschooler and an infant! Let me be the first to tell you the destination is what counts! Sure, the trip along the way can be enjoyable, but getting home is what really matters!

We’ve done our fair share of car travel and after making the 22 hour trip between Danville and Denver eight times, I have learned a thing or two about what makes for a great long distance drive. Here are my top 5 tips and tricks for making a long car ride enjoyable (or at least tolerable)!

1. Bring snacks! – The only thing worse than a tired three year old is a hungry three year old. This adage can usually be applied to husbands as well! We like to bring most of our snacks with us because they are healthier and much cheaper than the usual gas station cuisine. Some of our favorites are carrot sticks, mixed nuts, raisins, string cheese and apples. Of course, near the end of the trip we all need a pick-me-up so we usually treat Luke (and ourselves) to ice cream.


Luke’s 1st Blizzard – August 2013! This was near the Kansas/Colorado border, also known as: the middle of no where! Thankfully, there was a Dairy Queen, because we all needed a treat!

2. One word – iPad. Honestly, I’m not sure how people survived long car rides with out them. While we discourage excessive screen time at home, we encourage it on the road. We let Luke watch movies and play games as much as he wants and we just pray that the screen doesn’t burn a hole through his retina. We even let Lyla, our 5 month old, watch a few episodes of Mickey when she got restless. Please don’t call CPS on us… everyone can use a little Disney magic to get them through a long trip.

3. Plan your stops. This one can get tricky. Infants can have unexpected diaper blow outs and newly potty trained toddlers can demand sudden stops for potty breaks. We once had to take an exit in Kansas to make a pit stop for a freshly potty trained Luke. It was not a planned stop and the only thing on this exit was a dirt road, corn fields and an abandoned gas station. Needless to say, it was not our most productive stop. The photo below is of another unplanned stop on our first drive to Colorado. Yes, that is Jacob changing Luke’s diaper at the entrance to someone’s cattle ranch. On a long drive, you just gotta make do with what you have and sometimes that includes a make-shift changing table on the side of the road. Also, notice how blue the sky is – Kentucky has blue grass, but Colorado has *the* bluest skies you’ve ever seen!


Roadside diaper change – expect the unexpected on car rides with children!

4. Let the kids play. This one seems frustrating at times because it feels like you are wasting time, but allowing the kids to move and stretch is well worth it. When pulling the u-haul we often stop at a truck stop and Jacob and Luke have foot races to burn off some energy (somewhere far away from the 18 wheelers, of course).  We usually try to eat at a Chick-fil-A with an indoor playground. We eat while Luke plays and then we order his food to go. He can then be occupied with his food in the car. On our last trip, I purchased a lap desk at Hobby Lobby for him. It worked great as a meal tray and even had spots for a drink and extra snacks. I would highly recommend getting one, but be sure to check and make sure that it will fit over your child’s car seat. You can see it in action in the photo below.


This was our first trip with TWO children! Lyla was only three weeks old!

5. Bring nap time items. The ideal situation for car travel is for your kids to sleep as much as possible. To make this happen, we like to make their car seats as much like their crib/bed as possible. We always bring Luke’s stuffed horse named Boss Cat and his blanket and we usually start the trip off with him wearing pajamas. I would also highly recommend getting a sun shade, but a blanket stuffed in the car window will work in a pinch to block the light for ideal napping conditions.

I hope these tips help you as much as they help us. What tips and tricks do you have for your long drives?


  1. Karen Sather Hoskins says:

    I am really enjoying reading your blogs, Allison! Can’t wait to actually meet you one day!

  2. Ashley Beiriger says:

    We do the same things when we travel! We live in Kansas City but have all our family in Denver so I know the I-70 travel very well! I have an 8 year old and a 5 year old boy and we always do our bathroom breaks and kid breaks at rest areas on the highway. That way we aren’t tempted with gas station stuff we don’t need and the boys get to get out and run, run, run even if it’s too cold to do so!! I also go to dollar tree and stock up on about 5 new things each whether its new coloring books, etc.. Something cheap enough where it’s ok if they break it or use it all! My boys always look forward to having their buckets full of goodies, that also cuts down on a little screen time! I’m new to following your blog but our whole family is die hard Broncos fans so I can’t wait to catch up through you!

    • I-70 is VERY long, flat and boring! Love the coloring book idea! We’ve gotten sticker books at the Dollar Tree in the past and they were a hit too! Of course, we ended up with most of the stickers on the window and not in the book! Hah!

  3. Well, I am of an “older” generation, and on long car trips, my husband and I listen to XM’s 60’s, 70’s, 80’s channels and try to guess the artists’ names. Not too exciting, but it does make the drive seem shorter!
    Annapolis, MD

    • Gail, that sounds like fun! Maybe we will try that if we ever have a “kid free” road trip!

  4. I loved your post!!! (I’m usually commenting on your instagram as Pretty Pink Cosmos Boutique, lol) when I saw the part about the ice cream in the car near the Kansas Colorado border, I got excited and wondered if that was at The Oasis!! Haha, probably not, but I remember coming from Texas back home to Co and we stopped there for our “last meal in the car” and it was the best!!! Hahaha!! I also love how you take care of your kids, there are a lot of kids out there who aren’t taken care of and hearing of parents who treat theirs right makes me happy!!!! I don’t have kids, but I store away all the advice and info for “someday”!!! Blessings!!!!

    • You are too sweet! And, yes, I remember you from insta! This was not at the Oasis, but I know exactly where that is! There is a Starbucks and a playground there, so we stop there often! Blessings to you as well!

  5. G said he laughed out loud at least 4 times reading this one. Good advice! ❤️