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Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Road Trip

Keep the kids amused and Mom and Dad sane while traveling this Thanksgiving

Heading out to see the relatives this Thanksgiving? Before you travel over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house, check out these sanity-saving tips to make your ROADTRIP stress-free and even fun. (If you are flying instead of driving, check out my tips on How to Have Fun at the Airport with Kids in Tow.)

Tip: Make a List

Make a list of everything you'll need on the trip for everyone in the family. If it's on the list, you won't forget it. To make it easier, download a free Family Vacation Packing List and then add your unique items. 

Tip: Plan the route ahead of time.

By taking a little time up front to plan the route including places to stop for bathroom breaks or energy stops, you might feel a little more in control before you ever set foot in the car. To find the cleanest restrooms, download the free Sit or Squat app for your phone. 

Tip: Plan Some Fun Stops 

 If you are driving more than 4 hours, plan some stops to reenergize the bored family. Check out RoadsideAmerica.com, a site dedicated to helping you find those amusing road side attractions. You know, like the World’s Largest Ball of Twine or Flipper the Dolphin's Grave. (I'm not making that up.)

Tip: Don't Leave Home without These

Snacks - No messy or crumbly snacks for the kids! Unless you want to start an all-you-can-eat snack bar under the back seats, little, individual size snack bags work perfect. Grapes are good, easy to eat and no peel to worry about. Skip the juice boxes, too. Put drinks in drip-proof sippy cups or sports bottles so they don’t leak or get squirted everywhere.

Water Bottles
 – Always have at least one bottle of water in the car. Even if you don’t drink it, it’s nice to be able to rinse off your hands or that binky that fell in the back seat and is now covered in dog hair.

Garbage Bag – Always have a bag in the car to throw out trash. Trust us, you don’t want to hold a snotty Kleenex or ketchup covered wrapper or banana peel for 4 hours. (Been there. Done that. Not fun.)

Pillows, Snuggle Buddies, or Neck Wraps – If the stars are aligned and Holiday fortune is smiling on you, your young kids will fall asleep for awhile. (When they are older, they put their iPod headphones on and they may as well be asleep.) While most kids are resilient and flexible, they shouldn’t have to kiss their navel while they are napping. Give them some support.

Antibacterial Wipes/Hand Sanitizer – Buy it in bulk.

Boredom Bag – You’ll need plenty of entertainment to keep the kids (and adults) amused for the long haul. Read my post on How to Keep Kids Amused on Car Trips

For more, check out all of my family travel tips and fun ideas

What items do you take on your Holiday Road Trips that you can’t live without? How do you keep everyone in the family from getting bored in the car?

Hey Brian, congratulations on your bundle of Joy. Every day keeps getting better and better. Just wanted to say that if you buy one of those portable dvd players that hang off the back of the seat, It's the best way to occupy the little ones.I Just play continuous loops of barney, wiggles, or baby Einstein and that should curb restlessness. That's what my wife would do and you wouldn't hear a peep out of me or my kid in the back seat. Next thing you know, your rolling into Eagle River. Say hi to my friends up at "Kirks of the North"
Brian L. November 16, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Other side of the state...we're headed to Eau Claire. And thanks for the tips. We're not a big T.V. family, but if this trip goes the way of a five hour scream, we may fold for these long drives.
Voici l'eau Claire which means "Here (is) clear water" It will also be a treat to see real wild turkeys over the thanksgiving holiday. On your way up, watch in the open fields for what looks like black garbage bags. Those are flocks of wild turkeys. It's pretty cool. Have a safe trip and a great holiday. Moe.
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