The Stages of Taking a Road Trip with Kids


If you’re taking a road trip with kids this spring or summer, buckle up for the inevitable stages you’re about to face:

The Squeeze into the Jam-Packed Car

You will pack the car to the brim in the final minutes before leaving for your road trip. If you’re in the passenger seat (therefore appointed Snack Captain), your legroom is crammed with snack bags, a diaper bag, and activities for your kids.

The Hopeful Beginning

You’re just getting started. Everyone is excited. You still believe your kids will do all the activities you’ve packed.

The First Traffic Jam

In your first major city, you’ll experience your first traffic jam. Bonus points if it’s raining, if there’s also construction, or if someone has to pee while you’re in grid-lock traffic.

The Depletion of Snacks

This might happen before the halfway point of your road trip, I’m sorry to say, but your family will plow through the snacks you’ve packed as if they’ve never eaten before (This has actually led me to create multiple snack bags when we go on road trips, and I separate and leave aside snacks designated solely for the trip home).

The Bermuda Triangle Truck Stop

You’re making the first stop on your road trip with kids, and everyone is happy to be out of the car. You feel like you’re being efficient, but by the time you’re back in your vehicle with your fast food meal, it’s been 45 minutes that you’ve wasted going to the bathroom, wandering, eating/ordering food, and admiring truck stop fashion trends.

The Bathroom Break Right After a Stop

You drive for approximately twenty to thirty minutes after the stop, and someone will announce they have to pee. This will usually be the kid that insisted they didn’t have to go at the last stop, but not always. It might even be you.

The Second Traffic Jam

The next city, the next traffic jam. You handle this one with less grace.

The Kid Fight

If you’re lucky and your kids’ devices have held on to their battery, this might be delayed indefinitely. But more than likely, at some point, your kids will start fighting. Bonus points if this already happened in the first five minutes.

The Dead Battery

Someone’s device will die. Either the charger cable won’t stretch far enough, or the one specific cable you need will be buried somewhere inaccessible. Bonus points if a meltdown follows.

The Time Check

Usually, after a device has been disabled (but not always!), the time checks will start. Are you almost there? How much longer? No one escapes a road trip with kids without at least ten time checks.


You’ve been driving for your whole life, it seems. Why are you doing this again? What’s the point? Were plane tickets really out of the question? People warned you, but you didn’t listen. You are only a shell of a person now, clinging to the hope that you only have less than an hour to go.

The Arrival

You’ve finally made it! Congratulations! You pile out of the car stiff, hungry, and groggy. But at least you’re standing on solid ground! Now go enjoy your vacation and try not to think about repeating all of this at the end of the week when you drive back home.

I wish you all smooth, safe, and easy road trips! Are there any stages you’d add to the list?