Humor Journal Kids Motherhood

4 Sanity-Saving Tactics to Use When Traveling with Small Kids

4 Sanity-Saving Tactics to Use When Traveling with Small Kids
Written by Terryn Drieling

Picture for a moment, if you will – one parent, three kids (ages five, three, and a yearling who happens to be teething), making a six-hour across-the-state road trip… and then doing it again four days later. Sounds like fun, right? Fun. Or maybe complete and utter chaos.

This was recently my reality. Yes. I made the twelve-hour round trip to visit my family in my hometown. I made it solo parent style with my two crazed-with-excitement-to-see their-grandparents big kids and my twelve point five month old who on top of teething was sporting a mysterious rash and had a pretty good grouch on.  

Believe me, I was beginning to question my own sanity about making this trip. But the doctor’s office cleared to travel despite the rash, so there was really no good reason for us to not go. And you know what? We all survived. I even made it with my sanity, thanks to the following sanity-saving tactics.

Mental preparedness.

This is what gets me through. Seriously. Mental preparedness – it is my go-to tactic. It has seen me through 3 epidural free childbirths. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with getting an epidural. It’s just that the thought of a needle of that length going into my spine makes me a little a lot edgy queasy.  It has been my saving grace through several previous solo trips across the state hearing, “Are we there yet?” for at least the last five hours and fifty-nine minutes of the six-hour trip.  And it has not failed me yet.

You know that phrase, “you can do anything you set your mind to”? Well, I wholeheartedly believe that. Ahead of whatever it is I am facing, I get a little intel on what I can expect, pray a lot, and employ my power phrase – yes, you can. I put my power phrase on repeat in my head, or out loud if it gets really bad, until the task is complete.

A sense of humor. And snacks. But maybe not gum…

4 Sanity-Saving Tactics to Use When Traveling with Small Kids

And this is why gum may be a bad choice.

A sense of humor also comes in handy during group potty breaks (see below) when your five year old loudly questions, “Mom, are ya poopin’?”


This refers to both mental and physical flexibility. Veering from the plan to make several unexpected potty stops – that takes mental flexibility. Taking three kids into the restroom, peeing, and getting yourself put back together all while holding one of them – that takes physical flexibility.

Mad MacGyver skills.

Because when the DVD player decides to breakdown three hours in just before the longest stretch of road between towns where there are no radio stations to speak of, you’re going to want to bust these out. No worries, folks. I fixed the DVD player and the crisis was averted. But in the words of MacGyver himself, “You may not believe this, but there have been times when I’ve had a lot more fun in the back seat of a car.” Seriously, what did we do before portable DVD players?

I am always looking for new sanity-savers, Lord knows I need them. So, I want to know – what are your go-to tactics for traveling with your kiddos?

About the author

Terryn Drieling

Hi, I’m Terryn. I grew up on a northeast Nebraska feed yard with pens of cattle as my backyard. That is where I fell in love with raising beef. So when I went off to college in the big city of Lincoln, NE, I focused my studies on animal science with the goal of one day becoming a feed yard manager. While at UNL, I met my never-boring, always-entertaining husband, Tom.

After earning my degree in 2006, we moved out to the panhandle of Nebraska where I took a job on the animal health crew of a local feed yard. I loved my job, so-much-so that I would argue I never actually worked. Over the course of the next seven years Tom and I got married, welcomed a son and then a daughter, and I continued loving my life and career. I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

But then, God inserted a plot twist into our story…

And I am so thankful for His twist because I am happier than I have ever been doing things I never thought I’d do. I am now a stay-at-home-mom and ranch wife who has discovered new passions in photography and writing/blogging. Faith Family & Beef where I share my story as a wife, mother, lover of coffee, and dabbler in photography – living in the Nebraska Sandhills, bringing up a family while raising beef.

Follow along on my blog:


  • I Love this! We are heading on a trip to visit my family this weekend with our 2 1/2 year old and 7 mo old. It’s 10 hours round trip and I haven’t braved it by myself yet since our little guy came along. You are a rock star!

    • Thanks for reading, and for your kind words, Brittney! So, is this weekend your first solo trip? If it is, I know you will rock it! And I will say a little prayer for you too. 😉

  • This post is so timely, as we are preparing for a LONG road trip next month to Kentucky. We will have a 3-year-old, 1.5 year old, and a 3-month-old. I’m thinking of purchasing some ‘travel trays’ to go on the older kids’ carseats, to give them an area for toys or books or snacks.

    • The travel trays sound like a fabulous idea! I may have to check into those myself. My mom got the kids a book of 300-ish games for kids to do on the road, but this last trip was the first since we’ve had the book and I forgot it… I will hold a good thought for you guys and your up coming trip!