How to Survive Road Trips with Kids

It's time to travel with your kids. So, what do you need to know before you hop in your minivan and head for your destination? What tips and tricks make travel a little easier, whether you're bringing babies, infants or toddlers? How can you beat the boredom and the dreaded question “Are we there yet?”

View Episode Transcript

Featured Segments

  • The Best Apps for New Parents

    We explore the best apps to help you organize your life and entertain your little ones. Would you like to recommend an app for us to review? Leave a message through our website voicemail, or email us through our website.

  • What Up With That?

    Kids say (and do) the darnest things. Sometimes their strange behavior leaves parents completely puzzled and wondering “what up with that”? We want to hear those crazy stories! Email us or record them through the voicemail button on our website!

Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
How to Survive Road Trip with Kids?


Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Today we are talking about something that touches every family. Something that’s a key-part of childhood, but they can strike fear into parents. But yet it’s the first step towards creating many lasting life-long memories. And we all got to do one sometime. I’m your host, Johner Riehl, and today on Parent Savers we are talking about road trips with your kids.

[Intro/Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome once again, everybody, to Parent Savers, your online on-the-go support group for parent of infants and toddlers. And we are super-online! We used to record in studios, but now we are totally online. You can join us. We’ve got a listener joining us today. And you’ve got me of course, you host, Johner Riehl, along with Sunny, our producer. Hi, Sunny!

SUNNY GAULT: Hi! We are super-online now, we are just doubling in online field before, but we are all in!

JOHNER RIEHL: Super-online! So thank you for listening with us through this transition! We are excited for this new era of New Mommy Media. And especially thanks to those of you who continue the conversations with us on social media, Facebook and Twitter. You guys help make the show great, and thanks for listening and participating! And as you know, we have an app, Parent Savers app, where you can listen all the episodes wherever you go. And you can also listen to podcast when you go on iTunes and all sorts of other places. So Sunny, why don’t you tell them even more, our super-parents, listeners, about how they can follow up with the show.

SUNNY GAULT: So Johner mentioned our Parent Savers app, and we are very app-friendly on this show. We love apps, and you know, as you guys know, we talk about apps on the show. And we actually are going to do that in a little bit. I also want to tag to that, that in addition to our Parent Savers app, we have a network app for New Mommy Media. What’s really cool about this is that it contains all of the shows that we produce for New Mommy Media. And we are starting to do some really cool things with New Mommy Media. We have what I call out home grown shows.

Parent Savers is one of those shows that we started from scratch, but we are also starting to add other shows into the mix to create more of a network of shows, again, that are aimed towards new and expecting parents. And all of those shows go on the New Mommy Media Network app. Again, it’s a free app. It’s available wherever you download apps, so we got lots of different versions and stuff out there.

But if you want a one-stop-shop for all of the shows that we do and all of our kind of affiliated shows that we are bringing on, that is a great place for you to get all content in one sport. So I encourage you guys to check that out. And the other thing that you can do! So, if you are listening to us through iTunes, or if you’ve downloaded one of the apps through iTunes, or something like that, we love to get reviews in iTunes!

This is probably the best way that you can help us out, is by leaving a review. Because still, most of the people that find out about our shows, are listening through iTunes, or some sort of other podcast kind of device, right? Because we are available on a bunch of different platforms. But wherever you are listening to us, if you have the option to rate and review us, please do. With most of these, in fact probably all of them, that is how people find out about your shows, right?

So a lot of times you see that: hey, if you listen to this, you might like this. And the way that they kind of organize all of that is pretty much by rating and reviews. So tell us what do you think about the shows. Hopefully, it is good. If not, let me know how we can improve it, and I am all ears with that as well. But that would definitely help us out and let more parents find out about Parent Savers. As well as our other shows.

JOHNER RIEHL: Nice! Thanks in advance then! I am the worst at that! I never really…

SUNNY GAULT: Everybody is!

JOHNER RIEHL: But then now you end up looking at them, right?

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah! You totally do! You know, it’s the same thing actually sidebar with Amazon. Like everybody is on Amazon and no one ever leaves reviews, so… It’s a good thing to do, because, I mean, that’s really how, you know, other people know what products to buy or whatever. So do your part, leave a review!

JOHNER RIEHL: And so joining us today in the conversation, we have Angie. Angie, why don’t you tell a little bit about yourself and about your kid situation, so everyone kind of has good perspective on who we are talking to?

ANGIE: Yeah, so like you said my name is Angie. I had a baby a little over a year ago. She is 14months now. And when she was 2months we decided to move from DC all the way over to Los Angelis. And the only way to get over there was to drive. So we packed up the car, we got the baby, two cats, a lizard, and us in small little sedan.

SUNNY GAULT: I love that you had a lizard!

JOHNER RIEHL: And the cats are right in the outside! We’ll hear all about this while we kind of dig into the topic. So thank you for joining us! I am the host, Johner. As you know, you are probably sick of me hearing, but I’ve three boys, a 9year old, a 7year old and an almost 5year old. And we’ve taken our fair share of road trips. So in addition I think to look at it from a very young baby perspective. We’ve done some cool things that my wife has sort of initiated that hopefully be helpful as your kids get older. We’ve done some road trips. We had some big ones, even when Xyler when as younger as like two years old. So definitely have some cool ideas.

SUNNY GAULT: And I am the student in today’s conversation, because I’m going to learn from you, guys, really. I mean I’m kind of in hunker down mode, just stay in your home mode, contain everybody and try not to let anyone escape. So, I’m Sunny, I have four kids. My oldest is 5, and we do have to let him out of the house, because there is this little thing called kinder-garden he has to go to. And then I have a 4year old son, who goes to pre-school. And I have twin girls who are two and a half, and they just started pre-school, although I’m not sure they are going to stay in pre-school. But for the time being everybody is kind of out of the house for part of the day and that’s what I call my road trip! That is me making the stops…

JOHNER RIEHL: Your road trip is going to get coffee!

SUNNY GAULT: I know! Starbucks, on my way! But yeah, we haven’t done anything really. We’ve taken all the kids to Vegas, so what is that? That’s four and a half hour trip. But nothing… You know, I’m really impressed, with you guys going across the country and stuff, and that just scares the begibas out of me!

JOHNER RIEHL: Hopefully, after today you are going to be empower, and our listeners are going to be a little empowered too maybe if there are in the same position.

SUNNY GAULT: To be able to do it, right. So I have lots of questions basically.


[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Before we jump in today’s topic, we are going to look at another app today. And this one was one that I actually am pretty excited to talk to you guys about. I discovered it about a month ago and… This is a paid app. It’s $2.99 and you know, if we are bringing along paid apps, I really believe in it. I think this is totally worth the $3! So this app is called CHOMP, capital letters, C-H-O-M-P by Christoff Niemann. And the total app title, it has his name in it. We’ll have a link on the website. It’s N-i-e-m-a-n-n, this is his last name. CHOMP by Christoff Niemann.

So this app, it uses the camera on your iPhone and it places the image from the camera into a funny, little pretty simplistic cartoon line-drawing. And it is something that my 4year old figured out. Just like that! And it totally captivated him for like an hour. He just loved playing with it. So as an example, as I’m looking at it right now, my face… You got to line up the camera a little bit, it takes a little bit of coordination, so it’s probably like 3 and up. 2year olds can probably do it too.

My 4year old had no problem. So I am a monkey’s face and if I push the button I’m a monkey and I’m doing chin-ups. And then it keeps your face as the animation muse in the same spot. I’m a pingpong ball right now bouncing up and down, and my face is spinning around, and I can make funny faces as it goes. And you could record little videos or take screen shots.

There’s probably I think forty different animations. And each one is interactive. So if you touch it once the screen goes, it starts doing things. It’s colorful, simple drawings. To me, this is the kind of app that I really like to recommend to people and that we love checking out as a family where it’s not just pushing buttons to just… It’s saying it’s educational because there’s ABCs involved. There’s actually some interaction with the real world that’s happening here when you are putting your face in it. And so it’s a really cute app. Have you got the chance to look at it a little bit, Sunny?

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, so I went on… I haven’t had the chance to download it yet, so I can’t really talk about the functionality overall of it. But it looked really cute. It reminded me of something that you know my kids and I… And really my husband. My husband’s likes to do this with my kids. The jib-jab kind of videos that you do. That’s what reminds me of. But I think these are just still images, there is no video?

JOHNER RIEHL: No, no, what it is, is like if you push, if you hit screen while it goes, it will do a sample. It won’t be like as elaborate as doing the Macarena or something. But it would be like: oh, I’m in a lion's face, so if I push it, it might do something a little bit funny with its pause, or do a little spin on a table, or if the pingpong ball is going up and down and it’s rotating and your face is rotating with it. So yeah, there is some animation.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, a simple animation…

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, simple jib-jab.

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, and I love that, because honestly I’m not going to pay all the money for jib-jab. I’ve contemplated it, but I think it’s $15 a month or something. And then it’s unlimited. Anyway, not an app promotion for jib-jab. But I would definitely… This is $3! And like you said, if my child can take the pictures themselves, and it’s all right there, and it’s just… We have an iPad that they can play with. We call it the family computer. So is this available on iPad too? Do you know?

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, it's perfect for iPad! And that’s great because part of the fun is I think seeing this silly pictures, looking over your shoulder, recording videos and then sharing it with your brothers and sisters.

SUNNY GAULT: Exactly! I like it! I think it’s a cool idea.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, so definitely check this one out! It’s CHOMP by Christoff Niemann. That’s the whole title. You need to put that in. And then check it out. $2.99 on the AppStore.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Today on Parent Savers we are talking about how to survive road trips with your kids. Welcome everybody to the conversation!

SUNNY GAULT: Yey! Road Trip!

JOHNER RIEHL: Iuhuu! I love road trips!

SUNNY GAULT: Christoff family style!

JOHNER RIEHL: Yes, totally! Road trips are something I remember growing up and it’s something we’ve been able to do with our boys as well. But I think it can be different things to different people. And Sunny, you are even kind of touching on that. You are saying your trip to Vegas that was four and a half hours, you didn’t think it was a road trip? I totally think that’s a road trip!

SUNNY GAULT: You do? Oh, really?

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, what are you thinking about when we say road trips?

SUNNY GAULT: I don’t know! Like something that would take the better part of a day.

JOHNER RIEHL: God! I think really… I think that there’s scale. I think that you need to do some preparations for even something like a two-hour drive, or a four-hour drive. And there’s also for sure, definitely larger scale coordination and planning that needs to go into the larger trip. But I wouldn’t sell yourself short! It sounds like you guys have done a small road trip to me.

SUNNY GAULT: Well, we shall see throughout the course of the conversation.

JOHNER RIEHL: Did they ask you to go pee during it?

SUNNY GAULT: No, and you know, that’s why we usually time it out where we go in the middle of the night, because we don’t want to deal with pee breaks and stuff. So that’s why I feel like… that it wasn’t. Not necessarily because of the distance, but because maybe we are just really smart in the way we turned it out.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, I think that’s sort of a tip.


JOHNER RIEHL: And you didn’t even know, but you did an expert road trip. And Angie is joining us too. And Angie, you recently moved across the country, right?

ANGIE: Yes, and it was challenging.

JOHNER RIEHL: And so was the car loaded with stuff too? Or it was all about just moving you guys?

ANGIE: So we tried to pack as much as we could into… I guess we got like one of those pots reserve. We filled that up, and then we filled our car up the gilt, it was exploding. So my husband has the most amount of space, he was in the driving seat in the entire time. And I was in the back, just kind of like Indian style, my legs all cramped up right next to the baby car seat, so…

JOHNER RIEHL: But even before you left, did you guys do some like extra car seat safety or precautions, or go and check her, anything like that?

ANGIE: No, I mean, we had her checked out at the hospital when we brought her home, so we knew it was right. But I guess you have the choice when you are putting the car seat in, you can either use the car seat , the base or use the seatbelt. And so we just used both. We used the base and the seatbelt to make sure it was really secure.

JOHNER RIEHL: Nice! And I think that even when we are talking about road trips that’s the first thing with the young kids. It’s really taking a look at your car seat situation, and we’ve got episodes on that topic, and there’s a tons of stuff you can do, but really just make sure that you nice, safe and secure. It sounds like doing the double thing on car seat was a really good idea. That’s like before you even take off, right?

ANGIE: Yeah, especially if you are going to be in the car for so long. We were really paranoid. We wanted to make sure she is extra safe.

JOHNER RIEHL: Totally! But then I can totally picture you craned in with a bunch of stuff in the back seat. Tell us about your experience, like taking her across the country. And like, what some things that you either did, or you sort of figured out along the way that you think other people might benefit from knowing?

ANGIE: Well, we knew it was going to be a long trip. We had planned for five days and it ended taking six. So we got a little adaptor to go in the car, so that I can breastfeed, and I breast-pump, so that I can breast-pump on the way. And in that way, if she was hungry, I didn’t have to take her out of the car, I could just give her a bottle. I wish that I had known then what I know now and now I just kind of have the ability to lean over and nurse her, while we are both still buckled in. But I didn’t have that talent yet.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, totally! I feel like that thing is for a Boob Group episode, Sunny, but…

SUNNY GAULT: Actually, we’ve done an episode about travelling with a breastfed baby, and I’m pretty sure that that was mentioned, so absolutely.

JOHNER RIEHL: But you totally do learn, right? I mean… And you guys kind of get better at it, both the mom and the baby sort of figure out how to make that work. But at 2months you weren’t able to really do that?

ANGIE: Yeah, I didn’t even know that was an option, you know. I didn’t learn about that until she was 4 or 5. I’m like: man, this could have made a lot of car trips better that I know. Yes, so we had the breast pump and the adaptor, the charger for it. We also had one of those liners, like a puppy-pad, and we just put that on in the car seat, because we knew the chances of her having an explosion were pretty high.
SUNNY GAULT: That’s smart!
JOHNER RIEHL:That is a good idea!
SUNNY GAULT: Protect the car seat!
JOHNER RIEHL:So, it’s puppy-pad? Hold on, I’m not even… Where did you get a puppy-pad, just at a pet store?
ANGIE: So for that specific trip we went and got the puppy-pads, but since then… I guess they are called liners. And they are water-resisting. And I guess you put them on your changing table. They are like paper.
JOHNER RIEHL:Oh, like those things! Yeah! Nice! That’s a good idea to put these on. And you probably brought a bunch of them?
ANGIE: Oh, a whole bunch!
ANGIE: And then I guess the last thing we did was that I used an app to finds out where points of interests were, and as we were driving I said: ok, here’s the next point of interest, it’s about an hour, or two hour drive, we are going to stop there. In that way we can get out, stretch our legs, make sure my baby doesn’t get flat heat from sitting in the car seat too long. So that’s kind of I think the things we did.
JOHNER RIEHL:Nice! And that was like good times to maybe like time your stops when it was something that was sorts of interesting as opposed to just like on the side of a random exit in Kansas.
ANGIE: Yeah, exactly, we figured we only going to make this drive once, so make it fun. We didn’t want to just go the rest areas or anything like that.
JOHNER RIEHL:Yeah, and I’m thinking about these puppy liners… But there is a balance in a road trip between: you know what, we are going in places where there’s civilization and they have stores and like you can buy stuff along the way if you run out. But you also don’t want to plan extra stops, because you want to get to the right destination and you don’t want to spend your road trip at the grocery store shopping for things. So did try to just get enough for the whole trip or were you like planning to stock up along the way?
ANGIE: Being the new parents that we were, we just had everything to go. Now when we leave we can just relax, like you said, we just… Anything we need, we can stop on the way and get it. But at that point I was like: ok, we need this many diapers, we need this many…

JOHNER RIEHL:Yeah, and then you’ll multiply by two, just to be safe?
SUNNY GAULT: And then by the time you have four kids you’re like: oh, it doesn’t matter, whatever we do, they are going to need something else, there’s WalMart wherever we go!
JOHNER RIEHL:Right, but I remember with travelling with a baby: if the baby is in a good spot, you don’t want to jinx that, you don’t want do anything to possibly stop it. And so you want to keep thing moving and going in the right direction.
SUNNY GAULT: Literally! That would be bad if you weren’t!
JOHNER RIEHL: And so we found online on this site about some road trips with small children, so I kind of want to go through these real quick.
The first one point blank is snacks, but I think that qualifies as the breast-pump for when you are travelling with a young baby or being able to give it access to breastfeeding. But I think as your kids get a little older and on solid food you also just want to make sure you have a good supply of that.
Number 2 is allowing plenty of time to reach your destination. It sounds you were pretty flexible with your schedule if you were able to go from 5days to 6days?
ANGIE: Yeah!
JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, and I think that’s, on a big road trip, I think especially with young kids, you need be mindful that time frames need to be kind of loose. And if you need to either stop and see something cool you weren’t expecting, or just take a little extra-time out of the car, that you’ve got a little bit of extra time. There’s also talk about toys. Like did you… At two months were you just like putting your hand on and maybe just talking to be baby. Like what were you kind of doing to keep the baby entertained?
ANGIE: We had some books. She slept a lot. So the first two to three hours of our day, she could just sleep and we kind of wanted that, because she is the kind of a baby where if she wakes up and pees, she just… It is end of the World! You have to stop right then and there and change her diaper. So we wanted her asleep as much as possible, but when she did wake up I would try to read books to her. Or we had CD with kids songs in it and so we would sing that to the top of our lungs to get her to stay happy.
JOHNER RIEHL: Nice! And then where were you guys like sleeping? Did you have hotels? Did you have reservations or you were just kind of find a town and try to find a hotel room?

ANGIE: Around 5 or 6 o’clock each night I would look and see what was on the way. It had to be pet friendly, because of the cats. So we just kind of look to see. We wanted a small town where we could experience what I call “Americana”. So if they had a nice little hotel and some place nice to eat, yeah, we stopped there in hotels.
JOHNER RIEHL: Nice! Here’s another tip from this article which I think is interesting. It’s entertain the kids with a puppet.
SUNNY GAULT: It’s so specific! Like…
JOHNER RIEHL: Specific, right? But I think it could make a lot of sense too. Like it’s just a good way to play peak-a-boo or kid of do something with just a different, just your face I guess.
SUNNY GAULT: Or if you had multiple puppets like they could probably entertain themselves a little bit too, you know, maybe. If you have multiple kids, you know. Because I’ve got like a couple toddlers, right. So they might be able to kind of have their own little show going in the backseat.
JOHNER RIEHL: Next time my kids have a temper tantrum, I think I would just throw a puppet back there and be like “make something happen, come on kids”.
SUNNY GAULT: Entertain me.
JOHNER RIEHL: Entertain them. And then yeah, a lot of it is about preventing leaks and spills too whether it is maybe through using special diapers the either overnight kind if you use the disposable or just being able to pay attention like to how quickly the diaper gets full. But also the car seat protector is a huge thing for traveling with babies and I am mad that we never did it.
SUNNY GAULT: And there are a lot of products out there now; I am seeing more and more pop up things that … even covers that you put on your car seat like regularly seat so it doesn’t get dirty you know so not just for a road trip. But there are a lot of stuff out there like that and I often wonder … I keep thinking I am going to get my kids one of those organizers that goes on the back on one of the main seats – the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat – something to collect all their toys.
I saw one the other day where it kind of slopes down and it tucks underneath the actual car seat so it creates a little canopy and if like anything drops, it is supposed to drop on the canopy as opposed to on your floor. And I am like “well, that’s kind of interesting” but I keep thinking I am going to get some of these extra things for my kids to self-entertain and I haven’t done anything yet but I am thinking about it.
JOHNER RIEHL: The other thing I can think of for traveling like on a long trip with a baby is just some way to shade, to offer shade because depending on which way you are going, you might get a lot of sun coming in like directly from one side of the car and so definitely a way to keep the baby shaded but not … you don’t want to cover up the baby too so like a shade for the window. This is probably a really good thing. Did you guys have anything like that or were you able to just kind of keep track of it? I guess you were driving straight west so maybe it didn’t matter.
ANGIE: I did bad in that area. I tried to avoid it. I was like we don’t need it because as soon as we get it, she is going to turn front facing, you know, it is two years; I feel like the two years are going to go by really fast so I kept saying we don’t need it and I would just put like a blanket over her car seat. And then just recently we caved in because it was getting really bad so we just got the shades. And it makes a difference, I should have gotten them way back when …
SUNNY GAULT: I have a tip on that one. So this was an issue for us. We recently got a new minivan and we got like the basic bottom of the line because we got a really good deal on it. Anyway, it didn’t come with any tinting and all my car previously since having kids had some sort of tinting on the back windows so I didn’t realize like how important it really is to have tinting like I am blinding my kids even going to the kindergarten every day.
So I got these … they are kind of static kind of things that stick to the windows and I am really glad I got the ones I did; there are multiple brands out there that do this but it literally it is kind of a filmy thing and it goes right on there and you kind of got to work out the bubbles and stuff. But those types work really well. If you ever talk to some sort of car seat technician or anything like that, they usually say they don’t want anything big and bulky because if there is a car accident, things could dislodge and they can hurt your baby.
But one other additional thing that I found with that is our new car which I think is really cool, those windows actually can roll down. And I never had … my first minivan didn’t have that option. So anyways, these protectors are really nice because they will roll all the way down and it won’t like lodge or kind of get stuck. So if you are thinking about getting something like that, keep those couple things in mind. Like I said, there is a lot to choose from out there but it can definitely help you.
JOHNER RIEHL: Couple of more tips about babies and then I think we would get into toddlers but these actually kind of apply I think to kids of all ages but like baby wipes and paper towels in the car, those come in so handy for so many different situations.
SUNNY GAULT: Yes, we buy them in bulk. We buy baby wipes in bulk and someone told us before we had kids “oh, you are going to end up doing this” and we were like “what, why would we do that?” We find uses for baby wipes in every situation so yeah, we keep it stocked in in our car, it is a staple and we really stock up when we are traveling.
JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, we are like squirrels with it like I am going to put one behind this seat just so it is there and then I am going to do it there so when you go looking for one like “yep, there it is”.
SUNNY GAULT: But you guys, when you need a wipe, you need a wipe.
JOHNER RIEHL: Urgently. And then also just bringing like some re-sealable bags, it is good if there are accidents or blowouts or if you need somewhere to stash it before you can get to a place to wash things; put them in a zipped sealed bag. Also, maybe it is good if trash is generated or anything. Again, you can find lots of different uses whether for babies or up to have like a box of like the gallon size sandwich re-sealable bags.
ANGIE: We tried that at first but it is a long trip and she had her first explosion the first day and I wanted to put it into a zip lock bag and my husband was like “yeah, we are not going to drive with that for the next week in our car” so you might also want to be prepared to part ways with some clothes.
JOHNER RIEHL: That’s right. So bring disposable clothes. Which isn’t a bad idea …
SUNNY GAULT: That’s a good point.
JOHNER RIEHL: But I mean, you could also … I mean, I feel like I could travel a day with that stuff and then when we got to where we are staying for the night could …
SUNNY GAULT: Rinse it out … like if you have a blowout kind of thing, is that what you guys are thinking?
ANGIE: Yeah.
JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, totally. But I can also understand the freedom and liberty of just saying Sayonara to that stuff too.
ANGIE: I think I cried a little bit but I lost that battle.
JOHNER RIEHL: Certainly not very green. Alright, so as with this transition, I am thinking to talk a little more about as kids get past the baby stage and are able to sort of interact more, maybe tell you what they want or toddlers and pre-schoolers. We will talk about that right after this break so we will be right back.
[Theme Music]
JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome back to Parent Savers. Today we are talking about surviving road trips with kids. Road trips! I just wanted to say that again with that cool … so I tried to do it again. So as kids get older, as they leave the baby stage, road trips kind of change a little bit and you are not as worried about blowouts necessarily but you are worried about keeping them entertained, keeping them engaged, making sure they don’t have meltdowns, that sort of thing. And so we open this up for some of our listeners about some of the tips that they had, so Sunny, this was on Facebook, right? That we put out the call for some advice?
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah and so first of all I just want to plug a little bit so if you are thinking about being involved in Parent Savers and you are not sure you actually want to be on the show, you should still join our Facebook group because we do more and more of this where we are posting questions that we use in the show so just because you are part of the group doesn’t mean you have to be on the show, you can just submit comments which is what a bunch of these parents did.
So definitely gave them you know some props as we go along here. So yeah, we just said “what is your biggest best idea or suggestion when doing road trips with young kids” and that is how we defined at young kids. So let me read some of these. So Courtney says “Electronics for the win!” and I know we have done some episodes in the past about the usage of electronics and where do you draw the line and stuff like that.
But you know, I asked my son before we started recording today who is five and I said “what do you like to do when we are in the car for longer periods of time” and he says “I like to play with my iPad”. And so I know this is kind of a touchy subject and screen time in general is but I think a lot of parents would actually say tablets or phones, Smartphone or something like that.
JOHNER RIEHL: It becomes a little bit of a balance for us and so living in southern California we have decided to sort of take advantage of some of the cool trips that we could take from out here. So a couple of years ago, we drove to northern Arizona which was like a 9 or 10 hour drive and then each day we were driving a lot to go to attractions and last year we went all the way up to northern California which is even longer than that believe it or not because the state is so huge.
Then even this year, we took another road trip up to Yosemite and so it is a balance with the electronics especially as your kids get older. I think when you are talking about maybe 3-year-olds or 4-year-olds, electronics might be able to help just to keep them occupied and it might not necessarily need to be looking out the windows at all times. But as your kids get older, you start to want to balance that with them also getting the experience of what you are going through and not just being so wrapped up in whatever device or DVD they are using.
So we found like the strategic timing of it … I mean and just in general, we bought these portable DVD players, it was like a hundred bucks and they are two that are linked together so they strap on like on the back of the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat and so it shows the same thing but we only bust those out for road trips. So when we take a road trip, our kids get super pumped up, they are like “I can’t wait to spend hours in the car because we get to watch DVDs in the car”, it is something that is like a treat to them.
But what we have figured out is that we need to at times be like “okay, at this time we are not going to watch a DVD because we are driving through some awesome scenery right now and you guys need to see this”.
SUNNY GAULT: Some other things so that parents reached out to us and said … so Nicky says “I go to the dollar store and I buy a bunch of small toys and I wrap each one individually in wrapping paper with a lot of tape” and she doesn’t continue on but I am assuming she spreads those out throughout the trip and they are like little presents, right? And like “oh, if we are good for the next hour, we get this little gift” or you know, something like that.
JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, it gives them something to look forward to and I think something to … if you make them like small attainable goals, it gives kids definitely a reason to stay quiet, pay attention, just not melt down.
ANGIE: And I wonder if all the tape so it takes them a while to get in there.
SUNNY GAULT: It is like gorilla taped. Alright, so Stacy says she brings a giant crate of library books, some with CDs so that they can listen to them in the car; she also says new toys, magna doodle – and I am not sure what a magna doodle is – snacks in the car so they can run around when they stopped. But I loved the idea and we have had a couple people say some sort of audios so CDs, someone mentioned audio books and like I subscribed to Audible because I like to listen to books on tape as opposed to read them. But they have kids’ books and stuff like that as well.
And I know, through our car, we can kind of set it up so everyone can hear it through the speaker so even listening, I don’t know if it has to be visual, I know a lot of people have DVDs and stuff like that in their cars; we don’t have anything like that, we are not all that fancy but just something like listening to a story might work, again, my kids really like ghost stories right now so maybe if I put them on some ghost stories, especially if we are driving at night, that could be kind of cool actually.
JOHNER RIEHL: No, and combining that with a library idea too … books on tape from the library is something you just need a library card, you can check them out, definitely for the length of your trip and I mean listening is great because you are using your imagination, the kids are maybe looking outside and if you think about it, sometimes like you hear certain things and it makes you think of where you were when you heard it or certain spots.
And so certain stories can just immediately kind of take you back to those spots on your road trip too. We listen to a magic tree-house book and the 4-year-old was totally into it, Tyler loved it. And we were driving through I think Napa and like wine country and stuff and now even just thinking about that book, makes us think about that part of the country.
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah. Whatever happened to iSpy? We are playing games, why can’t we go back … I mean are there any other games besides iSpy that you guys played in the car to kind of pass the time?
ANGIE: It is a license plate game where you have to collect license plates from different states.
SUNNY GAULT: Oh, yeah, yeah. And you kind of mark it off your list. Have you guys been ever able to get very far though? I am like “oh, another California plate” …
JOHNER RIEHL: I feel like I remember road tripping when I was a kid where we did pretty good. And when you see the Alaska or Hawaii ones, you get super excited.
SUNNY GAULT: That’s true. That is kind of cool.
JOHNER RIEHL: But a couple things that we have done with young kids and this is even for shorter car rides is just one the colors of the rainbow game. Let’s find something that is orange, let’s find something that is … green is usually pretty easy and blue but you can look for different colors. You can also if they are starting to be able … as they get a little bit older recognize the letters of the alphabet and numbers; it is just be on the lookout for letters and hey, we are on A, now we are on B and that can really pass a lot of time because you will get to a letter and then you need to start looking, it really gets you looking at the billboards that are maybe around and just all the other signs.
SUNNY GAULT: Oh and the advertisers will love you for that.
JOHNER RIEHL: That’s true.
SUNNY GAULT: No, actually this was a suggestion from one of our listeners – Alison actually said this. She said “The alphabet game with billboards, you can do that with animals” – she said – “different types of food” … all that kind of stuff. So yeah.
JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, just sort of come up with different things to be on the lookout for.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so one of our last submissions comes from Amber and I really think it ties into it … Angie was talking about earlier, she says “Google search for parks in the towns that you are going to be passing through so you already have them picked out before you decide that you need to stop” and I know … Angie, you were talking about just kind of finding places in general. Did you find any parks? Was that kind of part of the think? Like “hey, let’s find a playground and let the kids just kind of burn off some energy” … you have a baby so probably not so much, right?
ANGIE: Right.
SUNNY GAULT: So much with the parks … yet.
ANGIE: Yeah, it is more like “here is a fun place to eat” or “here is a point of interest” just like at one point we … I don’t remember which city was then but it was a Popeye statue so we went a little you know, 10 minutes off the highway and we got her out and took a picture of her in front of the Popeye statue.
SUNNY GAULT: Oh, that’s cute. Johner, have you stopped at any parks or anything like that on road trips?
JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, definitely. I mean just anything to get the kids to be able to take a break, get out around, and get out some energy. It could be a park, it could be just a nice area on the side of the road, it could be at a place where they might be able to take like a quick trail or something like that. When we were driving down PCH I think one time, and able to just get out, break it up, let them get out some of that energy that they have just from sitting in cars because kids want to be out and moving and playing and I know we are trying to survive the road trips but you also need to give them that time to just sort of let go and let loose. Alright, any other questions about road trips? What do you got?
SUNNY GAULT: Oh, when we got to talk about the “how much longer” or “are we there yet” kind of questions?
JOHNER RIEHL: Oh, yeah. So here is an idea. I am going to take credit for this one because I don’t think I read it anywhere, I think I came up with this one on my own. I have told a couple of people about this, they like it. So what we did before we left on our road trip is I got a couple rolls of quarters and I think I gave each kid like 5 dollars in quarters and said “alright, this is your money.
So you can ask us how much longer will it be till we get there, once every hour. But if you ask it any more than that in an hour, you have to give me a quarter. So if you are really, really dying to know an update, it is just going to cost you your money – a quarter.” And so they then have a reason to not ask and to remember what you said 10 minutes ago so they don’t have to ask again and it really worked for us and it has made road trips bearable that they end up getting these quarters which we then can use to make like squished pennies or whatever but that they are sort of in control and the on them like “hey, you are free to ask it but it is going to cost you a quarter”.
SUNNY GAULT: And it also teaches them some money management, you know, in the process.
SUNNY GAULT: I like that.
JOHNER RIEHL: Anything that is like “mine” so just give them something and let them ask every hour or so like you get one hour and so you will say “are you sure you want to ask, you can ask again at 1 o’clock and it is like 12:32 right now” and “okay, I will just wait, you can tell me at 1 o’clock how much longer it will be”.
SUNNY GAULT: And it seems to work which is the important thing, right?
JOHNER RIEHL: Totally. Well, thanks so much for the conversation everybody and thanks to everyone who listened to us today and I hope that you feel empowered to go take a road trip and if do, tell us about it, if you have some good tips, definitely let us know because that not only helps us, it will help the other listeners. We will be sure to pass it along. So for more information about road trips and some of the links we talked about with some of the other tips, you can visit our website at and check out the episode page. We are going to continue the conversation about road trips for members of our Parent Savers Club. For more information about how to be a part of that and what that even means, you have to go to our website for that too. So, check that out for Parent Savers Club info.
[Theme Music]
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so before we wrap up our conversation today, we are going to do a segment that I find very humorous, it is a fairly new segment here on Parent Savers called “What up with dat” so it is not “that”, it is “dat”, you know, we are very specific about this. And so it is where you guys basically tell us these crazy things that your toddlers do that you are just like “I don’t get this, this isn’t making sense to me and I don’t know” and it seems to be a toddler thing like it is not just a kid thing, it is like a toddler thing usually.
But this one … I guess the one from our listener today could be kind of viewed … I don’t know, kids do this throughout the childhood. And so … it is from Diane and Diane says “I don’t know if the flexible napping skills are weird exactly but they are definitely the most note-worthy. My father-in-law tells me that my oldest son reminds him a lot of my husband who used to crash out in the oddest places as a child.”
So basically, she is talking here about kids just crashing out wherever and probably in the weirdest positions, it doesn’t seem to bother them, in fact the host for our show Twin Talks – her name is Christine, if you guys haven’t heard the show yet. She posts on Facebook and I find it absolutely hysterical; she always posts on Facebook these crazy places that her child falls asleep. I mean … it is like, she would probably fall asleep in her food at the dinner table kind of thing if she could but it is … it looks so uncomfortable but the kids like you know, I mean, I guess they don’t need as much.
JOHNER RIEHL: When you are tired, you are tired.
SUNNY GAULT: When you are tired, you are tired, right? I guess it really doesn’t matter. Johner, do you remember your kids passing out at weird spots?
JOHNER RIEHL: This one just showed up in my Facebook memories feed. So we were at Lego Land one time and we got churros for the kids and I think they were probably like … we just had two at the time, I think it was before Tyler was born. And so each got like half their churro or whatever and so there is this … the older one is just licking his fingers because he has just eaten a churro, the second one got halfway through and passed out. So he just passed out holding the churro in his hand just mid-bite with just churro bliss.
I think it is a skill, I think Christina could fall asleep wherever and I think it carries on to adulthood and I find it adorable … the places she would fall asleep. We will be watching a movie and an exciting thing will happen and she will be falling asleep during it just because she has got some sort of queue to go to sleep.
SUNNY GAULT: It is her bedtime and her body just knows. You know, I have a very unique skill of being able to fall asleep super quickly like to the point where people would be like “oh, she has got to be kidding” … oh, I am just joking. No, no, I mean, seriously it could be like a couple seconds after my head hits the pillow and apparently my dad has the same thing going on and so it is hereditary.
Yeah, I would say, it amazes me when my 3-year-old can like silly stuff … like on the hard tile and he is completely fine without his blanket, without anything, he will just be on the hard tile. I am like “there is a couch over there, why don’t you just crash on the couch” but yeah, totally.
JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah, like when they are on the floor with no pillow and just passed out, I am like “what up with that”.
SUNNY GAULT: “What up with that”. So if you guys have a funny story that you want to share with us, something crazy that your kids did, let us know. You can go to our website at, send us an email, leave us a voice message and we will talk about it on a future show.

JOHNER RIEHL: That wraps up today’s episode of Parent Savers. We appreciate you listening!

Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
∞ Preggie Pals for expecting parents
∞ The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed
∞ This is Twin Talks for parents of multiples and
∞ Newbies for those going through it for the first time.
Plus, there are even more show on New Mommy Media Network, so make sure to check them out if you are a concerned parent who listens to podcast, which if you listen to this, you probably are.
This is Parent Savers empowering new parents!
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
SUNNY GAULT: How would you like to have you own show in the New Mommy Media Network? We are expanding our line-up and looking for great content! If you’re a business or an organisation interested in learning more about our co-branded podcasts, visit our website at
[End of Audio]

Love our shows? Join our community and continue the conversation! Mighty Moms is our online support group, with parenting resources and helpful new mom stories you won’t find anywhere else! You’ll also have a chance to be featured on our shows.

Become a Mighty Mom!