Category Archives: Family

What I Read in 2021

A stack of books I read in 2021 sitting on my swing.

Before we get started, I will say reading is something that I do to relax. I find it lifegiving – it’s not a chore. I also see it as a way to continue learning and exploring.

Since reading is something I want my kids to grow up loving, I invest time in reading chapter books aloud to them as well as picture books. (And audiobooks are great for roads trips with the kiddos. We utilized several on our 5400 mile trip this fall!)

Last year I read 68 books on my own and then read aloud/listened to the audio book of 38 books to/with the kids.

2 books on CD and other books I read in a pile on a front porch

Most of the books I read I either already own, where given to me, or I check our from the library or find used. Very few I purchase new to read.

I straight up like books so it can be hard for me to pick favorites. I most always learn something or see the world from another culture or perspective. Sometimes books are comfort reads too. Different books also speak to us more in different seasons of life. (So let me know what you like or are looking for in a book, and I can make a recommendations for you from this list!)

That said, I will try and narrow down my top picks in each category. I will have them all asterisked in my main book list so you can check them out!

Pile of books on a swing

Favorite Non Fiction Reads:
(Keep reading for links and the entire list!)

  • Experiencing God
  • How to Really Love Your Child
  • Prayer
  • Weep With Me
  • Delighting in the Trinity
  • Raising Worry-Free Girls
  • A Gospel Primer for Christians
  • In His Image
    (If you are struggling with tech boundaries in your house, I would highly recommend The Tech-Wise Family as well.)

11 of the books I read in 2021

Favorite Biography/Memoir/History Reads:
(Keep reading for links and the entire list!)

  • All Creatures Great and Small (I love reading his books!)
  • The Story of Christianity Volume 1 and 2 (on my list to re-read and take notes/dig into more to help with retaining the material)
  • Until We Meet Again
  • Reading Promise
  • Carved in Ebony
    (If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, be sure to read Talking as Fast as I Can. It’s a fast, fun read – perfect for taking on your summer vacation. I’m not even a fan girl of Gilmore Girls, but still enjoyed it!)

A small stack of books I read in 2021

Favorite Fiction Reads:
I’m trying to branch out and read modern fiction as well as classics (which is my go to).

  • The Chronicles of Narnia (still love these books)
  • We Were the Lucky Ones (fiction but based on a true story)
  • Sweep
  • The Girl With the Louding Voice
  • Orphan Train
  • Scottish Chiefs
    (I am also always a fan of anything George MacDonald, so those books rank high as well. And in high school I read all of Thomas Hardy’s books so it was fun to go back to Far from the Madding Crowd)

7 books I read stacked on a swing

Favorite Reads with the Kids:

  • All of a Kind Family
  • The Hundred Dresses
  • Twenty and Ten
    These first 3 were all books I loved as a kid and it was fun to read them with the kids.
  • The Rats of NIHM
  • The Warden and the Wolf King
  • The Summer of the Monkeys

You can keep reading for links to these books and to see everything I read last year!

A stack of books and audio books to read

What were some of your favorites?

Affiliate links are used in our posts. See disclosure page for more details.

Non Fiction:
All That’s Good *
Lies Women Believe
Experiencing God *
The Great Divorce
The Tech-Wise Family
How to Really Love Your Child *
The Explosive Child
Prayer *
None Like Him
How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth
Gentle and Lowly
Weep with Me *
Flirtation Experiment
Delighting in the Trinity *
Raising Worry-Free Girls *
The Millionaire Next Door
A Gospel Primer for Christians *
Mama Bear Apologetics
The Creative Habit
Calm My Anxious Heart
You Can’t Make Me
In His Image *
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

All Creatures Great and Small *
The Story of Christianity Volume 1 *
The Story of Christianity Volume 2 *
This is Chance!
Autobiography of a People
Home Work
Talking as Fast as I Can
Until We Meet Again *
The Kidnap Years
The Reading Promise *
The Last Lecture
Carved in Ebony *
Flag of Our Fathers

2 stacks of books I read on a swing.

The Printed Letter Bookshop
We Were the Lucky Ones *
The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe *
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Magician’s Nephew
The Last Battle
Thirteen at Dinner
The Westing Game
Sweep *
The Kite Runner
The Girl with the Louding Voice *
Orphan Train *
The Scottish Chiefs *
Wuthering Heights
Listening for Lions
Pilgrim’s Inn
The Farthest Away Mountain
The Giver
Gathering Blue
The Maiden’s Bequest
The Baron’s Apprenticeship
Far From the Madding Crowd

Read with the Kids:
The Cabin Faced West
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
The Warden and the Wolf King* (8)
The Hundred Dresses * (5)
All of a Kind Family  * (8,10)
The Golden Goblet
Sarah Whitcher’s Story (5)
The Littles (5)
The Long Winter (10)
Twenty and Ten* (10)
Treasure of the Snow (10)
Sled Dog School  (8)
Number the Stars* (10)
Magic Treehouse 1-4 (8)
Flora & Ulysses
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM * (8)
The True Gift (8)
The Sign of the Beaver (8)
Mary Poppins
Farmer Boy
Hatchet (8)
Peter and the Starcatchers  (8)
Mara Daughter of the Nile (10)
Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg
My Father’s Dragon (5)
Choice Stories for Children
Puppy Lost in Lapland (8)
Pick of the Litter (8)
Meet Felicity (5)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
The Tanglewood’s Secret
Fridays with the Wizard (5,8)
The Dog Who Thought He Was Santa (8)
Summer of the Monkeys *(5,8)
The Green Ember (8) (We listened to this on our road trip, and when it was done my husband said “that was a good story”)

I asked my kids their favorites from this list. They are marked above with their ages and also listed below:

My 5 year daughter’s favorites were: The Littles, Meet Felicity, Sarah Whitcher’s Story, Summer of the Monkeys, Fridays with the Wizard, My Father’s Dragon, and The Hundred Dresses.

My 8 year old son’s favorites were: Sled Dog School, Summer of the Monkeys, Dog Who Thought He Was Santa, Warden and the Wolf King, Hatchet, Magic Treehouse, Pick of the Litter, Puppy Lost in Lapland, Green Ember, Fridays with the Wizard, Sign of the Beaver, The True Gift, Sign of the Beaver

My 10 year old daughter’s favorites were: Warden and the Wolf King, Green Ember, All of a Kind Family, Mara Daughter of the Nile, Twenty and Ten, The Long Winter, Treasures of the Snow

If you need even more ideas, check out these posts from previous years:

a graphic that says list of 106 books I read in 2021

Planning a Trip to the Badlands and Black Hills

Picture of the presidents carved at Mount Rushmore

Are you planning a trip to the Badlands and Black Hills area? We went the summer of 2020 and had an amazing time! This post has what we did, tips, and information to help you plan your visit!

When To Go to the Badlands

There are no trees of any kind in the Badlands. Even though South Dakota is in the norther part of the US, it still gets hot during the summer. We went in June and some days were pleasant and others quite warm. I’d recommend May and June or waiting until mid to late September.

Custer State Park has many trees and lakes to enjoy. If you want to enjoy the water, wait until the weather warms up some, but not too much. (Or just know your day or 2 in the Badlands will be warm but enjoy the water and shade in Custer State Park the other days) 🙂

What Age Is Best for Kids

We went with my husband’s parents and his brother’s family. The ages ranged from 4 all the way to late 70s. All of my kids loved the trip (ages 4, 7, and 9) and so did the adults. When we left, everyone wanted to go back to the area again. My 4 year old was able to do all of the short hikes in the Badlands and was even a trooper and did a 4 mile one (rated difficult on All Trails) in Custer State Park.

What To Do in the Black Hills Area:

The following is what we did on our trip to South Dakota. This is a huge tourist area, so there are countless other things you can find to do as well. You can research to find things to fit your children’s interests and your family’s budget. I would have been more than happy just getting to explore the Badlands and Custer State Park on this trip, so if you are on a budget – you will still be able to make great memories.

The Mammoth SiteWe did this on our first day in the area. If your kids are into fossils and such, they will love getting to see an active dig site! The grandparents also paid for all of the kids to do the Paleontologist Excavation Program. (My 9 year old did the advanced program and the 4 and 7 year old the junior one.)

Reptile Garden: This is the place for reptile lovers. Lots of snakes and lizards. We happened to be there shortly after they fed they snakes and got to see several snakes in the process of swallowing mice. There is also a fun playground outside for younger kids. The huge tortoises were also outside and my 3 enjoyed that and a bird presentation was also going on as well. (We did this and Bear Country USA on the same day.)

Dinosaur Park: This is free and nothing fancy, but young dinosaur loving kids would probably enjoy a short stop. You walk up a hill and pass large dinosaur statues on the way.

A bear swimming at Bear Country USA in Rapid City

Bear Country USA: My kids thought it was a lot of fun getting to see so many bears and then other animals around the car as you are driving. There is also an area you can walk around that has animals once you complete the drive through. If our trip to South Dakota had been a year later, after we explored Glacier National Park and Yellowstone area and saw a dozen bears and numerous other animals in the wild, we could have done without Bear Country. But last summer the kids loved this.

Wall DrugThis is one of those places I would say is a tourist trap. It is free to walk around and the kids would say they liked it but I would say it’s okay to skip if you are short on time. Lots of souvenir shopping, if that’s your thing. There’s also a restaurant if you need to grab a bite to eat. Wall Drug is also known for free ice water and 5 cent coffee. We ate there, the kids shopped for souvenirs and enjoyed taking pictures on some of the structures in the Backyard.

Minuteman Missile Site and Visitor Center:  We stopped by this visitor center and one of the missile silos on our last day. It was free and worth a quick stop. I didn’t know much about this part of history, so it was interesting.

At one of the lookouts at the Badlands!

Badlands National ParkMy family loved the Badlands! This was such a fun place to explore. Parts of it felt like we were on the moon. This and Custer State Park were my 2 favorite parts of the trip. As I said earlier, there is no shade here, so if you do go in the hottest summer months plan to go early in the day. We went late June and spent the day here and were fine. We didn’t do any of the long trails, but I would recommend going on all of the short trails we did. Also, plan on driving all of the way through the park and stopping at the overlooks on each end!

Trails We Did:

  • Door Trail (short, easy hike that the kids actually did twice)
  • Window Trail
  • Notch Trail (A lot of fun! The hardest part is climbing the rope ladder)
  • Cliff Shelf
  • Saddle Pass (This hike is only .7 miles but was our favorite! You definitely want hiking shoes and maybe even your hiking poles because it is slippery on the way down and easy to lose your footing. We saw a rattlesnake on this hike)
  • There is also a .4 mile Fossil Exhibit Trail that was closed when we were there.

You can easily do all the above trails in 1 day and enjoy both lookout areas. There are also longer trails (4 mile and 11 mile and more) that you can look into. Notch and Saddle Pass were our 2 favorites. Watching a sunrise or sunset would also be gorgeous!

See this AllTrails link for information on the hikes!

Another view at Badlands National Park

Mount RushmoreThis was a pretty fast stop and I thought it was underwhelming. Maybe part of that had to do with the fact that the Avenue of Flags and Presidential Trail were both closed when we went. We walked around a little bit and went to the ranger talk at the Sculptor’s Studio. You probably want to go just because it’s an iconic landmark, but don’t overestimate it.

The faces carved at Mount Rushmore

Wind Cave National Park: This was closed when we went, but had it been open we definitely would have gone!

Custer State Park: loved Custer State Park (the kids did as well)! It was such a beautiful and relaxing area and a complete contrast to the Badlands. Highly recommend. If we were on this trip ourselves, I would have spent more time here.

Places to drive: Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, and the Wildlife Loop Road (similar to driving something like Lamar Valley at Yellowstone).

Hikes: Again, I didn’t get to spend as much time doing this as I liked but the one hike we made time for was at Sylvan Lake. Sylvan Lake was a beautiful area (and quite busy). We did the Sunday Gulch Trail (and you can easily include Sylvan Lake Shore Trail like we did) which is 4 miles and AllTrails rates it as challenging. My 4 year old was able to walk the entire way with some handholding and hosting to get her across the boulders. I highly recommend this trail!

Check out AllTrails for Custer State Park for more info on this and other hiking options! We want to go back and explore more. This Trail Pocket Book from Custer State Park also has good information.

Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway and D.C. Booth Historic Fish HatcheryThis was an easy and pretty drive! We stopped at the Bridal Veil Falls to take pictures and also did the short hike to Spearfish Falls.

My kids love fish hatcheries, so this was a fun and free excursion for them. We went June of 2020, so the museum and house were still closed to visitors. We did do the short hikes they have on the property.

Mt. Moriah Cemetery: We drove through the city of Deadwood and stopped at Mt. Moriah Cemetery because my father in law wanted us to see Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane’s graves. There is a $2 entrance fee and we spend some time walking throughout the cemetery.

Broken Boot Gold Mine: The kids all wanted to tour a gold mine, so their grandparents took everyone here and the 4 kids did the panning for gold as well. It was a fairly short tour and was fine, but I don’t know that I would do it again.

Picture of Broken Boot Gold Mine

Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf: We did this one evening because my kids and nephew really wanted to. It’s a nice course that you can find at several locations around the USA.

Other Options On Our List: These were other ideas my mother-in-law had that we did not make it to:

  • Air & Space Museum
  • Storybook Island
  • Rush Mountain Adventure Park
  • Main Street Square Splash Park

View looking into the Badlands

Where to Stay When Visiting the Black Hills

Anything in the Rapid City area would work. Also, look in the surrounding cities. We rented a house in Summerset and it worked fine. It was about 10-25 minutes to the different attractions in Rapid City and an hour to Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Custer State Park and less than 45 minutes to the hatchery.


Everyone in our group had a great trip! Our family has talked about going again, especially to explore Custer State Park more and see Wind Cave. We’d definitely go back to Badlands for a day as well.

This is a great possibility for a family vacation! Kids as young as 4 will be able to participate and hike most everything. But it would still be fun with younger kids, you just might end up carrying them a bit depending on the trails you do. It’s also fun for older kids and adults! So many interesting places to explore.

Again, you can do this on any budget. Stick to the state and national parks to keep things frugal and you will still have a great trip. Add in a tourist attraction or two if your budget and time allows. Either way, you will love exploring and creating memories.

Fun Children’s Books About Dinosaurs

a tall stack of kids books about dinosaurs

A few weeks ago I shared a list of great books for kids that love trains. Trains weren’t the only thing my son loved to read about. We also checked out mountains of books about dinosaurs and construction vehicles! Today’s post is a list of children’s books about dinosaurs.

Having fiction books organized alphabetically by author makes it easy to find books you know you want, but if your child just wants dinosaur books if takes some work to find them!

That’s where this compilation will come in handy.

If your toddler to first grader is as obsessed with dinos as my son was (and actually still is) hopefully this list will help you on your library runs and as you add to your home book collection. It might even save you from having to read the same 5 books over and over again.

I recommend checking books out from the library before buying them if possible- every kids seems to gravitate towards different favorites.

Don’t forget to check out the non-fiction dinosaur section. Even for little kids! From a young age my son would gravitate towards non-fiction books and just pour over the pictures. When he asked us to read them to him, we’d read an abbreviated version of each page according to his comprehension level and attention span.

If you are a young earth creationist, know that most of dinosaur themed books reference old earth in some way. If that bothers you, be sure to preview the books (or edit as your read them aloud) or just have a discussion with your child of the different viewpoints people have. (Keep reading to the end of the list for some books suggestions from a young earth, Christian perspective.)

Children’s Books About Dinosaurs

4 board books about dinosaurs

Dinosaur Board Books:

That’s Not My Dinosaur

Dinosaurs A-Z (Poke a Dot)

Dinosaurs Dinosaurs

My First Dinosaur Touch and Feel (This was my son’s favorite when he was little)

Roar! Roar! I’m a Dinosaur!

Rex Wrecks It

I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur

Little Dinos Don’t Bite
Also in the series: Little Dinos Don’t Hit, Little Dinos Don’t Push, Little Dinos Don’t Yell

1-2-3 Dinosaurs Bite


a pile of dinosaur easy pictures books

Dinosaur Easy Picture Story Books:

These children’s books about dinosaurs are all very fictional stories! Even though my dinosaur loving kids have non fiction books as their favorites, they still enjoyed many of these.

Dinos in the Snow

Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp


The Dinosaur Who Lost His Roar

Dinosaur Farm

Bang! Boom! Roar!

The Itchy Book

Dino Pets

Dini Dinosaur

10 Little Dinosaurs

Ten Little Dinosaurs

The Lost Dinosaur Bone (Little Critter book)

Dino-Sports Series

Curious George’s Dinosaur Discovery

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything

Lizard from the Park

How do Dinosaurs series

A stack of dinosaur easy picture books

Dinosaur Easy Picture Books:

This group of children’s books about dinosaurs are still in the easy picture section at my library, but include some dino facts and aren’t exclusively stories!

I Am A Tyrannosaurus

Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones

The Field Mouse and the Dinosaur Name Sue

Dinosaur Bones

Roar: A Dinosaur Tour

Kids non fiction dinosaur books

Dinosaur Non Fiction Books:

My kids have loved reading these. Most we simply check out of the library (and have done so over and over). Some are quite easy and other a little longer. I’ll include a picture below of all the options in our library’s non-fiction section.

Digging Up Dinosaurs

My Visit to the Dinosaurs

Here We Go Digging For Dinosaur Bones

Dinosaur Lady

A Dinosaur Named Sue: The Find of the Century

Lizard Tooth

Double Bones

Long Arm

It’s Tyrannosaurus Rex!

Inside Out T-Rex

Dinosaurs at the End of the Earth

How Tall Was a T-Rex

What Has a Pointed Head and Eats Lizards?
What Has Armor and a Tail Club?

A-Z of Dinosaurs by Kieron Connolly

the non fiction book section at the library

This is a picture of the dinosaur books in the children’s non-fiction section. I think it’s safe to say, my kids have checked out all of them before!

If you believe in a literal 7 day creation, Answers in Genesis also has some kid themed dinosaur books from a Christian perspective you might want to check out:

Phew, that is quite the list of children’s books about dinosaurs! What have I missed? And I know I sound like a broken record, but check these out from your library (or at minimum look at the preview pages on Amazon) before you buy! With so many great dinosaur book options, you will want to only own your child’s very favorites!
a stack of dino books with a graphic overlay

Easy May Day Basket Ideas

A homemade pink paper May Day Basket

Spring is just around the corner and we all know that March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. Once spring arrives, one of the fun things to look forward to with your kids is May Day and May Day baskets! Today, I have several great May Day basket ideas for you!

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What are May Day Baskets?

May Day baskets are small baskets (purchased or homemade) that you fill with flowers and even little treats or gifts! You can make them as simple or as elaborate as you want. If you are struggling with coming up with what to put in your May Day basket, I have some ideas coming up below.

Once you have your baskets compiled comes the fun part.

Make a list of people you want to deliver the baskets to, and then you go and hang them on doors or place them on the front porch ring the doorbell and run back to the car and go to your next stop.

Of course you could also ring the door bell and hand deliver the basket or leave it on the porch and send a text after you leave!

What kid wouldn’t love that? And as a parent it’s always great to find ways to have our kids think of others.

[Check out this post on other service project ideas you can do with your kids!]

A purple May Day basket

May Day Basket Ideas


If your kids like crafts like mine do, they will love the DIY baskets! I love that most of these options don’t take long to make. That’s especially important if you are planning on making a lot!

Paper Plate Basket
Construction Paper Woven Basket
Purchased Basket
Mason Jar (Add a wire handle or use a ribbon)
Flower Pot (You could even paint them like this)
Paper Cone
Paper Cup with pipe cleaner handle (something like this)

What to Put in May Day Baskets:

Now comes the fun part, figuring out what should go inside!

  • Fresh flowers
  • Plant
  • Homemade paper flowers. Here are some cute options.
  • Flower seeds and gardening gloves or tool.
  • Cupcakes
  • Cookies
  • Trail Mix
  • Candy
  • Other treat (Brownie Brittle would be yummy)
  • Tea bags or coffee
  • Pinwheels (Buy them or make them)
  • Bubbles or sidewalk chalk if there are kids

Pink paper May Day basket with tea, flowers and candy

As you can see from these May Day basket ideas, you can make your basket as elaborate or simple and has expensive or frugal as you’d like! Just pick something within your budget and go for it. Your friends will appreciate whatever you do.

Even the simplest option will bring smiles to their faces and make their day just a little brighter.

I promise that your kids will look forward to this each year. In fact, they probably won’t let you forget it. We dropped off cinnamon rolls at Christmas and heart sugar cookies at Valentine’s Day to a lot of friends and neighbors and the kids thought it was the greatest thing. It’s fun to see our kids get exciting about giving, even if it’s such a little thing.

For even more ways to celebrate May Day, keep on reading!

What is May Day?

It’s a celebration of spring and is always on May 1 which is about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. (Learning about the spring and autumn equinox and summer and winter solstice would make a great mini science lesson!)

This holiday is an ancient one and as such as pagan origins. When the Romans began celebrating it, it was for their goddess of flowers. In more modern times, it became a celebration of the return of spring!

May Day Traditions.

We already know about the tradition of May Day baskets, but there are even more things you can do to celebrate.

Other Ways to Celebrate May Day

I hope that you are inspired to start a fun tradition with your family this year! A great way to surprise and encourage those around you. May Day baskets are such a simple thing but will be so enjoyed.

Purple may Day Basket with bubbles and goodies


Tips for a Road Trip with Toddlers

Two little girls sitting in the back of a car

Does thinking about vacations and holidays have you a little stressed because you have young children? Here are some simple things you can do to help you have a successful road trip with toddlers!

For some background I have 3 kids. They are now 10, almost 8, and 5.

Neither my family nor my in-laws live near us so our kids have been taking road trips ever since they were born.

These are the trips we take on about a yearly basis. This is the actual driving time one way, stops not included.

  • 2 1/2 hours (one way) to my husband’s parents
  • 7 1/2 hours to my parents
  • 10 1/2 hours to a sister
  • 3 1/2 hours to another sister

We have also gone on a few vacations, some fairy lengthy.

  • 9 1/2 hours (one way) to Colorado with a newborn, just turned 3, and 5 year old
  • 4 1/2 hours (one way) with a 2 year old and newborn; 3 and 1 year old; 1, 4 & 6 year old
  • 19 hour drive (one way) to Orlando, FL with a 2, 5, and 7 year old
  • 15 hour drive (one way) to West Virginia with a 2, 5, and 7 year old

All of that to say, we have put a lot of miles on our van and are no strangers to taking road trips with toddlers and kids.

(However, when it comes to airplanes, I have no advice – we haven’t done that yet.)

We do not have DVD players, ipads, or any other movie/streaming devices that we use in the car. If you want to utilize them, that’s up to you but do know you can have fun, successful road trip with toddlers without electronics!

This means that this list does not including movies as one of my tips. If you choose to use them, I’d suggest spacing out when they are allowed. A show in the morning and one in the afternoon or whatever you decide rather than giving them to your child all day long.

an empty road with words road trips with toddlers

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Tips for a Road Trip With Toddlers

Naps and Bedtime

Work with naps and bedtime. Plan to be driving for nap time and make your stops when they should be awake.

For long trips, after you stop for dinner put your kids in pajamas and a night diaper for the remainder of the drive. This will help them know night time is coming and hopefully they will fall asleep for you. When you arrive at a hotel or your destination, carry them in and put them straight into bed. No need to wake them for potty or pjs.

Some other ideas to consider:

  • Wake your kids up super early and carry them into the car still in pajamas (or have them go to bed already in their clothes for the next day). If you are lucky, they will go back to sleep and you can get a couple of hours of driving in before they are awake.
  • For some families it works to leave the house at bedtime and have the parents rotate driving shifts through the night. Again, the hope is that your kids will sleep all night for you. This is one option we have not done.
Don’t Stop When They Are Asleep

This one is huge for me and I try to avoid it if at all possible!

Wait on food and try to avoid a bathroom break for the grownups if the kids are asleep. As quiet as you try to be, I can almost guarantee your kids will wake up when you stop. And trust me, that is no fun.

Coordinate Stops

To help make the previous tip possible, coordinate your stops. Use the bathroom when eating your lunch. Fill up with gas even if you still have a half a tank left. You don’t want to have to make a separate stop just for gasoline – especially if your kids have fallen asleep or are traveling well. Don’t ruin the momentum.


Bring a bag of snacks along with you. Have them portioned out into toddler sized amounts and every hour or two pass the kids a little treat. It can be a few crackers, some berries, a sucker, or whatever your toddler favorite snacks are. The food helps break up the trip for them and gives the kids a little distraction.

You might find some new snack ideas on this list!


That’s right, you can find other forms of entertainment for your kids besides screens! We always pack a few car appropriate toys and activities. On a road trip with toddlers these are obviously pretty simple but still useful. Find things around your house or check garage sales and the dollar store to find things you won’t mind being ruined.

Do just what you do with the snacks and rotate through the available options every hour or two.

  • Small toys. A new car, toy animal, doll etc.
  • Stickers. Kids love stickers. Yes, their skin, car seat, and window might be covered with stickers but they will think it’s awesome.
  • Magnets. Bring a metal pan and magnets for the kids to play with.
  • Books. Board books tend to be sturdy and you might be surprised how much kids enjoy looking at the pictures when they are confined to a car seat.
  • Pen and paper. For toddlers that are a bit older, they love to doodle. Keep a few coloring items and a blank notebook or a coloring book in a bag.
  • Music. Yes, I know they are just toddlers but music can still be fun and soothing. Introduce them to some of your favorites and you can also bring along some classical music and kids cds. Yancy, Slugs & Bugs, Seeds Family Worship, and Hide ’em in Your Heart are fun Christian ones.
  • Audio Books. You can find children’s audio books and ones for adults that are appropriate for children. Don’t be too skeptical, well written kid’s books are great even for adults. My husband has been surprised several times by a book he thought would be stupid. Bring shorter picture book length options and even consider chapter books like Tale of Despaurex or Charlotte’s Web for little kids. Obviously 1 year old toddlers probably won’t pick up what’s going on, but for the 2 and 3 year olds you will be surprised what they comprehend. Check your library or library app for for audiobooks you can checkout for free!
Drive Length

One last thing that people have multiple perspectives on is whether you should spilt the drive up into multiple days. You may need to try both ways to see what works best for your family.

If our trip is under 12 hours of driving (one way) we drive it all in one day. Our vacations that were 19 and 15 hours away, we split into 2 days. (This summer we will be going on our longest trip yet and our first day will include a 16.5 hour drive so that the following day we will only have 7 hours left.)

Some people like breaking trips that are just 8 hours into two days. We much preferred knocking it out in one (long) day knowing that the following day we’d be able to enjoy our destination instead of being in the car again. Give both methods a try if you need to!

These suggestions have helped us on our many road trips with toddlers! Yes, we still had our fair share of tears and fighting but overall I never minded traveling with kids. It was (mostly) enjoyable and fun.

Don’t be scared to travel with your kids, short distances or long. You will make a lot of fun memories!

two kids sitting in the open back of a car with suitcases