How to Entertain Children of All Ages on a Road Trip

We do a lot of road trips with our kids. Over the years, we have learned many ways to cope with spending hours in the car with children. It’s all about preparation before you leave. Our kids are often excited to start a road trip because they know that there are fun things ahead. Currently, our children are 17, 8, and 2 years old. This summer I took a trip with our kids and a family member who is 13 years old so I hit every age range. It was because of that trip that I decided I needed to write this post. I had so many questions and crazy looks when people found out that I was going on a road trip with four kids by myself.

Disclaimer: I am not a crafty person. I make most of the games and projects that we use while on the road. These are not beautiful games with perfect pictures. I don’t sweat the small stuff. If a line isn’t perfect, I don’t care. The point of these projects is to keep kids occupied and parents sane.

Project 1 

What You Need:

  • A Basic Clipboard for Each Kid (I bought ours at the Dollar Tree for $1 each)
  • Stickers (Dollar Tree & Leftovers from other projects)

The first project during our trip is to decorate our clipboards. Each kid gets their clipboard. If I have packs of stickers with multiple sheets, then each kid gets a sheet. (Side note: A parent or older child should hold onto a toddler’s stickers and only give them one sheet at a time.) They take a few minutes to look these over so that they can plan their overall design for their board. Then we pass around the books or single sheets of stickers that don’t have duplicates. I randomly pick a person to start each book or sheet with. They pick one sticker to add to their board and pass it on. The stickers travel around our car counter-clockwise until they are gone or everybody (or everybody except one) passes. If one person still wants that book or sheet, then they can keep it in their stack with their other sticker sheets. If nobody wants them anymore then they go into the box/bag in the front of activities for later. (Usually, these go to the toddler with plain paper or a coloring page to pass the time when she started getting bored.) We only have one going around the car at a time and I always pick another person to start each time. The kids work on putting their stickers from their personal stack on their board while they wait for the stickers to come around. When everybody is done with their boards, they pass them around one by one so we can all admire their work.

Est. time: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the children and the stickers (Smaller stickers take more time to decorate with than large ones. My kids wanted them to be really pretty and spent an hour and a half.)

Project 2 

What You Need:

  • Window Clings

On our last trip, we used one pack of Hello Kitty window clings I bought at the Dollar Tree. The big kids all had a window seat. They passed the clings around and each picked out one to put on their window. They kept passing them until they were gone. Each kid ended up with 3 clings. Octavia, 2 years old, enjoyed watching them put them on the windows.

Est. time: 20 minutes

Project 3

What You Need:

  • Plain Printer Paper
  • Black Marker/Pen
  • Ruler or Something with a Straight Edge

Use a ruler or flat edge to make 6 lines vertically and horizontally to create 25 boxes. Label the center with a free space and all the rest of the squares with license plates that you may see on your trip. On our trip to Florida, I chose places that we were likely to see and ones that were going to be harder to find to keep things interesting. Each board should be different but have some in common. They should have the same mix of easy and hard spaces. We have a rule that you have to shout out every new plate you see to keep things fair. They won a small prize for getting Bingo first and another prize for finding them all. My kids are competitive so they all really wanted to win.

Est. time: Side Game until somebody wins

Project 4

What You Need:

  • Plain Printer Paper
  • Black Marker/Pen
  • Ruler or Something with a Straight Edge

Use the ruler or flat edge to make 6 lines vertically and horizontally to make 25 boxes. Label each box with something you may see from the window of the car. The kids cross off the box when they find the item. The first person to find all of them wins a small prize. You could draw pictures for smaller children or write a list to cross off if you prefer. We have done all three.

Est. time: Until somebody wins, Depends on how hard the items are to find

Project 5

What You Need:

  • Plain White printer paper or Lined paper
  • A Black Pen or Marker

I prefer to do this on plain paper because I think it looks more like a game and less like school work. I made 26 lines and put a letter of the alphabet at the beginning of each of them. The kids have to find a sign that has a word that begins with each letter. They can be street signs, billboards, restaurants, or anything else as long as they read it on a sign. This is a lot of fun and it’s amusing to see the words they come up with. There is a small prize for whoever gets them all first.

Est. time: Until somebody wins

Project 6

What You Need:

  • Small Paper Bags (I used a pack of brown paper lunch sacks)
  • Small Toys, Non-messy Crafts, Snacks, Games, etc.

I started by raiding our craft/toy closet. I picked out some toys for Octavia to play with that were fun but not her favorite toys. I took out any non-messy crafts that I had available. I picked out a couple books that Isabella hadn’t read yet because she is a big reader and doesn’t get carsick. Next, I went to the Dollar Tree to pick out goodies. Small art kits, crossword puzzles, snacks, and toys are perfect. These were the bulk of the items used. I bought a large dot-to-dot book at Michael’s and two Imagine Ink books from Amazon/Target.

Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of these. I laid out all the items I had and then separated them out into bags that made sense. I labeled the bags with numbers and a quick note about when to open them. Our oldest daughter was in charge of getting the bags out at the right times. This made the whole thing more exciting. They were like little gifts every hour or two. The first one was just labeled #1 and was to be opened after they decorated their clipboards and put up their window clings. The notes on the bags would be things like “Can be opened after lunch but not too close to dinner” because this bag contained a snack. One bag held a small toy for Octavia, a handheld pinball game, a dress-up doll, and a paddle board with a ball attached. The big girls took ten minute turns with the items. One bag had only a bag of Buggles in it. The girls had a blast playing with/eating them. The items in those bags would not have been near as exciting if I had just given them all to them in a bag at the beginning of the trip. They would have been bored by lunch on day 1. Instead, those items kept them occupied for the entire trip & the bags they didn’t finish were used on the way home.

A little advance preparation got us through this last road trip with minimal whining. These don’t cost a fortune and your kids will enjoy the trip more. They will spend more time having fun together and making memories which is what family travel is all about.

Happy Travels!

Our Long Term Travel Goal

I wanted to take a few minutes to update all of you amazing readers on our goals so that everyone will understand our future plans. We always knew we wanted to travel more. We would like to see the world and experience it with our children. We dreamed of traveling the world, climbing mountains, swimming oceans, eating exotic foods, epic road trips, cultural experiences, living out of suitcases, and meeting people around the world. We crave that sense of awe and wonder that one feels when experiencing something for the first time.

Sounds like a great daydream, doesn’t it? The problem with this desire is that we are working stiffs with three kids, a mortgage, debt, and a crapload of stuff. People like us don’t do things like that. It felt like money was the main problem standing between us and our dream. After we decided that we were going to make our dream a reality, we had to break it down into steps. I am now dividing those big steps into small, very doable steps. That is why we started the monthly goals. What we figured out over the course of doing those monthly goals is priceless. We figured out that it was not money stopping us from living our dreams. It was us. We weren’t living in a way to ever make our dream a reality. When we sat down to see if there were any changes we could make that would allow us to travel with our kids, we were shocked to find that we could be living our dream in a few short years.

Our goal is to begin long-term travel as a family of five by the end of 2020. If everything goes as planned we hope to leave in fall. We plan to do a combo of traveling around the United States while I work as a travel nurse and world travel between contracts. We plan to continue the blog while we are preparing and during our travels. We are also flirting with the idea of vlogging but it’s not definite yet. We do plan to try making a couple vlogs before we leave so we can try to learn how to edit video. We have never attempted to edit video before but we are curious to try it. Short vlogs would be a great way to share our experiences with our friends and family at home. We plan to bring Jack with us in the US and only go overseas if we have somebody to take care of him. If it looks like housing is going to be too big of an issue while in the US because of the dog and kids, we may consider a camper/RV. There are still many unknowns but we are working on it one thing at a time.

I never in a million years thought that we would be planning to live our dreams of travel with our kids but here we are. I will write a post about the details of our plan soon so that you can understand everything we need to do over the next two years in order to be prepared for our adventure. Do you have any tips for us on planning travel with kids? Please leave them in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

August Goals

August Goals:

  • Spend Time with my Kids, Husband, & Dad
  • Update Family/Personal Schedules
  • Oil Change & Clean/Wash my Car
  • Back-To-School Shopping & School Fees
  • Repairs to my Husband’s Truck
  • $500 towards Debt
  • Cash Staycation/Vacation
  • New Vacuum Cleaner
  • Work on this Site

I have some awesome news! I got a new job! I’m excited about this for a number of reasons but it has a serious downside. I have to work every weekend. Normally, I spend Saturday with my husband and I visit my Dad for Sunday night dinner. I’m attempting to see them as much as possible before I start this new position in September. I will write more about the perks of this job change soon.

I need to update my personal and our family schedules. School starting, my job change, things we want to accomplish before we leave in 2020, and family/friend time all need to be evaluated while updating our schedules for the remainder of the year. I work out our schedules about three times a year unless more is required. This includes our budget/bills, work/school/extracurricular for each family member, doctor/dentist appointments, zone cleaning updates, chore schedule updates, and house/car maintenance.

We need to do some work on our vehicles this month. My oil change is due this month. My car is filthy from all those summer road trips, both long and short. It needs the normal wash but the inside needs more attention. There is sand everywhere, seashells in the doors, junk under the seats, and the windows all need to be cleaned. My husband’s truck needs some upkeep too. One of the headlights just went out and he is replacing that tomorrow. The paint is peeling on the hood and without repainting, it will rust. Michael is attempting to do it himself. This may not be the best idea but paying somebody a small fortune to do it while we are working to pay off our debt is definitely not a good idea. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

School fees are $200 for our two girls. I’m not sure how much supplies are going to cost. We are trying to seriously limit the amount of stuff we are buying these days. This includes back-to-school shopping. The girls have tons of clothing. Ivy needs a couple pairs of black leggings, a backpack, socks, and a pair of shoes. Isabella needs a few basic tanks for layering, a pair of tennis shoes, and a pair of comfortable everyday shoes. She also wants a silver headband to replace her favorite one that broke at the end of last school year. Octavia is in need of a pair of tennis shoes and socks for the fall. We hope to get all of this done this month.

We want to pay $500 towards debt this month. We would love to be able to pay more but I don’t think it’s logical with everything else we have going out. We plan to get back on track with killing it in September. We are both taking a vacation this month so we will both have a short paycheck too. I am also starting that new position next month which will make a huge difference in our budget. There will be more details about this in an upcoming post.

We are planning for a staycation/budget vacation this time. Michael didn’t want to drive too far and we didn’t want to spend the money to rent a hotel for a week. We decided to play our entire vacation by ear. We are going to decide by vote each day what we are going to do. We are just looking forward to spending time together regardless of what we end up doing. We would all love a trip to Disney World or to spend a week in a nice hotel on the beach but we want to save the money toward our goals more. This is one of the many sacrifices that we will have to make over the next two years in order to live our dreams.

We are in need of a new vacuum. Ours is about 5 years old and is not working as well as it once did. We have a large dog and three family members with long hair. We also have a toddler and kids who enjoy crafts. We take a toll on vacuums. Our budget is $200. I don’t want to spend too much because we will likely either get rid of it when we leave or take it on the road with us for upkeep in short-term housing for jobs.

I really need to spend some time on this site. I need to get caught up on posting all of our fun adventures from this summer. I have a list of posts I want to write. I also want to learn how to do a few things. I have always focused on the writing side and I want to learn more of the tech side in the next couple months. We intend to continue with this site even after we leave so we can use it for memories, keep our friends and family informed about what we are up to, and hopefully inspire other families that would like to do the same. That is another reason that I think these monthly goal/review posts are so important that I take the time to do these no matter what. I love reading the planning stages of long-term travels. I know it is because that is where we are at right now. It is nice to see where others started at and to see if there is anything that will help us to achieve our goals. I hope that readers are getting something from this or will in the future. If nothing else, it keeps us on target.

Any goals you want to share? Are you working on paying off debt? Any tips on vacuums?

June/July Review

June/July Goals

  • Maintain
  • Save for Dental Work
  • Schedule Appointments
  • Finish the Pantry Challenge
  • Plan/Have Octavia’s Birthday Party
  • Work on House/Continue Decluttering
  • Work on Breaking Down our Long-term Plan

We have done well at maintaining our financial standing over the past two months. We do have dental appointments coming up in a couple days which we have savings for. Ivy was unable to get an appointment to have her wisdom teeth taken out because of a referral issue that is now fixed so she will be doing that soon. Michael needed to get glasses this summer. This was his first time having any issues with his vision. I have decent insurance through my work and his eye exam and basic glasses were not horrible. His sunglasses nailed us. In total, it ended up costing us almost $500. That was a big hit but we had a feeling it was coming and budgeted accordingly.

This pantry challenge is legit never going to end. I have no idea where it all came from. I had no idea the number of odd things that were hiding in the kitchen. The initial wave of making meals was easy. We are now working our way through the odd bits such as frozen food, canned food, small amounts of pasta/rice, seasoning packets, and spices. It is difficult to plan meals around the odd items. We are very slowly clearing it all out. I wanted to completely clear everything out of our kitchen and also save some money in our monthly budget. We saved a ton of money over the last few months on groceries but that it no longer the case. We are now just planning meals around getting rid of things. It is no longer saving us much but it has made for more interesting meals.

We had Octavia’s second birthday party. We ended up doing Bubble Guppies. We had it in our backyard. It was loads of fun. I have photos and will be making a post soon.

I know that I am a little behind on posting because this summer has been so busy. I will be getting caught up on posts over the next couple months. We did some traveling. We worked on the house and continued our decluttering process.

I have spent a lot of time collecting information and putting together a list of everything we need to do before we leave in 2020. I know that we have two years but it is surprising how fast time goes. We both work full time and are busy raising three kids. We wanted to make sure we had enough time to prepare and research our options so we know that we have chosen the right ones. There is so much involved with prepping for long-term travel for a family of five that I will be dedicating multiple posts to it. I will share my list soon. I sectioned off a notebook and we added things to it as we thought of them or came across them on suggestions on blogs, vlogs, or word of mouth. It is so nice to have it all on paper and mapped out.

Anything you want to share with us? Please drop it in a comment below.

June/July Goals 2018

June/July Goals

  • Maintain
  • Save for Dental Work
  • Schedule Appointments
  • Finish the Pantry Challenge
  • Plan/Have Octavia’s Birthday Party
  • Work on House/Continue Decluttering
  • Work on Breaking Down our Long-term Plan

We are doing a lot this summer and we hope to just maintain our current financial standing. We are not planning to pay-off the next credit card at this time. I am taking the girls on a trip and I know that it’s going to cost us a lot of money. I am really looking forward to sitting on the beach with my daughters. Our oldest, Ivy, also needs her wisdom teeth removed before they come in so we are starting to save for that. I have to make the appointment but we are thinking July or August is likely. Oral surgery is expensive even with insurance. I need to schedule her appointment and they all need to see the doctor soon. We like to do check-ups before school starts if possible.

We hope to finally finish the pantry challenge this month since we can now cook easier. Ivy and Isabella are interested in learning to cook so they will be cooking more going forward. We are planning meals around what is already in our kitchen. This is good for them because they are learning to make new foods and learning to work with what is available. During the last few months, we have used up many of the easier ingredients and we are now working on the more unusual items. I am toying with the idea of playing a game of “Chopped” with the girls to get rid of some of the odd leftover items.

My sweet baby, Octavia, is two this month. I don’t know where the time goes. We are planning her birthday for the end of the month. I think we are going to have it outside and her theme will be Bubble Guppies or Moana.

We are planning to do a little more work around the house and continue the decluttering process. We are focusing on things that we can do for free or very cheap that will improve our home. Decluttering, cleaning, organizing, and doing projects that we already have the stuff to complete is what we are focusing on.

We will continue working on breaking down our long-term plans into small achievable goals. In order to travel in two years, we need to accomplish quite a few different things. These things became our first list of goals and they include many things from paying off our debt to minimizing our possessions to teaching the little girls to swim. There are so many moving pieces in a goal this large that it requires a lot of planning to make sure that no part of it is missed. Some things are time sensitive and need to be started by a certain date. We are hoping to have a full plan that is easy to follow by the end of summer that fully encompasses all of the different parts that are needed to undertake something so massive.

We are hoping this month is much less stressful than May was. I will update you soon with our progress. Are you working on anything this month? Any summer plans you want to share? Any huge goals you need to break into smaller chunks? Please share with us in the comments.