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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

My #1 Tip for Surviving a Road Trip with Kids

A few years back, I was planning my first big road trip with my kids. The trip involved driving through 11 different states, 3 hotel room stays and visits with 3 different sets of friends and family members, all over the course of 21 days in the summer. My dear husband couldn’t take the time off of work, so that meant I was going to be the sole parent and driver for the entire trip. I’ll be honest, I was slightly terrified at the idea of doing this on my own and I wasn’t sure how my kids would do with so much traveling.

So I did what any sane mom would do, I scoured Pinterest for tips and tricks for road tripping with kids, and I found some winning ideas. I bought fun snacks that they saw for the first time when they got in the car the morning of the road trip. I bought these Road Trip bingo cards. I charged up all the devices and bought headsets. I fed them Dramamine. I positioned gallon size Ziploc bags in key locations in the car for - AHEM - unexpected illness.

But, my best idea, the one that saved the trip, didn’t come from Pinterest. No friends, this one came straight from the recesses of my own mind. Up until this moment, I’ve only shared this tip with my closest mom friends. But today, I’m going to share it with you. Come closer so I can whisper it to you…

I paid my kids off with cold. hard. cash.

That’s right. Here’s the way I set it up with my kids. They could earn $1 for every driving hour of the road trip if they were well-behaved and didn’t fight with each other. To me, this created a win/win situation. They could earn some spending money for the trip, and I wouldn’t lose my mind trying to referee fights at 65 mph. I went to the bank and got a whole stack of $1 bills, and every hour, I passed out another dollar to the kids.

How did it work? Wonderfully. Marvelously. Stupendously. Like a charm. They only lost $1 the ENTIRE trip. They loved the idea that they could earn money as the time passed. When we got stuck in traffick, they cheered because it meant they could earn more money.

This became a standing agreement for future road trips too. I think it was impactful to actually have money to hand to them on that first trip, because they could see the money adding up. Now, we just credit the money to their accounts on Bankaroo.

Judge me if you want. Report me to the Mommy Police. I don’t care! I’m telling you this tip SAVED MY TRIP and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Here’s to you and your future road trips, may your trips be memorable and your back seats be quiet.


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