Posted by: Cathi Brese Doebler | January 30, 2009

Travelling tips

We have done a lot of long trips with our children, most of the time by car.  Our kids travel really well, because they are used to it, but also because of the way we manage it. For a typical 8 hour drive we usually do the following:

  1. No toys, books, or any form of entertainment for the first hour. Instead, we talk about our trip ahead, and point out our favorite parts of the city and countryside that we are driving through.
  2. Throughout the drive, we take turns pointing out items of interest, such as tractors and cranes, boats, cool cars, animals, farms, neat looking clouds, etc.
  3. After the first hour, I give them a bag filled with books from the library. The kids spend time looking through each of the books, and sometimes even reading a few out loud to us.
  4. After they have looked at the books for a while, I let them look at their first “toy travel bag”. We have two duffle bags that hold toys. These two bags are never brought out except for long drives. The rest of the time I have them put away. We put small toys in these bags that are good for holding and playing with in the car. I also include a headset with several books on tape that they take turns listening too. By the time they’ve played with everything in the bag, it is usually time for a stop for a meal.
  5. After we eat, we get back in the car and we replace the first “toy travel bag” with the second one. They can play with the items in each of the bags for a long time.
  6. I always pack snacks and drinks for the drive, which also keep them busy.
  7. Sometimes we let the kids watch a movie, but not always. And if they do get a movie, it doesn’t happen until the last hour and a half of the trip.
  8. The game “I spy” is great to do as a family. 
  9. An idea of a game we sometimes play at our dinner table could also be used in the car. I take about 20 pieces of paper and write the beginning of sentences on them. Some examples are: “My favorite food to eat is…” or “My favorite game to play is…” or “If I could do anything, it would be…” or “I know that Dad loves me because…” Then each person takes a turn picking a piece of paper, reading it to the rest of us, and giving their end to the sentence. W each give our answers, and it becomes a great opportunity for sharing and learning about each other.

And a final suggestion is on the night before a trip, or even moments before you leave, say a prayer together for safety. I can clearly remember a time when my sister returned from a trip with her family. They had to travel home over a two day time span. Before they got into their minivan for the beginning of the drive, my brother-in-law pulled my sister and their two children together and they prayed for a safe drive home. At about the halfway point they witnessed a multiple car accident occur directly in front of them. They had been moments away from being hit, and came through the dangerous situation safely. We felt that they’re prayers had been answered in a very concrete way that day. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.” Philippians 4:6.


  1. I actually like travelling with my kids. We listen to the Jonathan Park creation science drama series, which they love, and I love that they are forming a Christian worldview about the world we live in. We also enjoy listening to the Chronicles of Narnia series by Focus on the Family. Each of these are kind of expensive, but we have listened to them quite a bit, and they make great gifts from grandparents, who are often the ones you are going to see.

    We do not yet have a DVD player for the car, but if we get one, it will only be used on these kinds of long trips.

    I also make the boys responsible for packing their own packs of stuff they would like to do in the car, whether it is art supplies (LOTS of contained and not messy stuff out there these days) or books to read or small toys. My guys are great at amusing themselves with all these things.

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