Updated: Jul 16, 2020
We think traditions are so important. Nothing is better than creating beautiful memories with your family that you and your children will talk about for years and years. We think traditions are what hold families together, give your kids something to look forward to, and make each family have their own special stories.
We are major road trip people. We live in the Brazos Valley of Texas and have driven to all kinds of wonderful American landmarks such as Yellowstone National Park and Niagara Falls. Let us tell you...our cars have lots of miles on them. Road trips to us are the fabric of American culture. You get to practice patience while driving to your destination, talk as a family, visit fun spots along the way, see different climates and cultures, and visit places that you wouldn't necessarily want to fly to see. Our country is so beautiful, and road trips give our families a way to see all that America has to offer.
So now that we have gone on and on about how much we love road trips, we thought we would share some of our favorite family traditions when going on a road trip. We hope these will inspire you to do a few with your family.
Road Trip Family Traditions
To keep the kids interested and excited along the way, we create surprise bags for the kids when we hit certain milestones on our trip. An example is when we drive out of Texas. If you have ever driven Texas you know it takes a long time to finally get out of the state. Well, our very first road trip we drove through Orange, TX which is right on the border. So the kids' first surprise bag said..."Orange you glad we are out of Texas." In the bag we had a few candy orange slices for the kids to enjoy.
This stuck and now any time we drive out of Texas the kids know that they are going to get an "Orange you glad we are out of Texas" bag. We usually do about 5 to 8 bags for the trip on the way there. These bags are a fun way to get the kids excited and gives everyone something to look forward to when driving long distances. We usually try to have fun saying written on a bag with a small gift inside like a sweet treat, word find, toys, etc..
These are a few bags from past trips:
We used the water bottles to collect stickers from our trip. An inexpensive souvenir!
We have a green bag from Custer National Park we got a few years ago, and we only use this bag to put snacks in when we travel. The kids know the meaning of that bag, and it is always as important to pack as our luggage. We put all kinds of snacks in the bag...and we let the kids go wild. Usually, there are not too many healthy snacks, but hey...we are on vacation. Filling up on snacks and having a small cooler with water bottles helps so much to not have to always stop if the kids are hungry or thirsty. Some of our favorite snacks are goldfish, cheez-its, Little Debbie snacks, cheese and peanut butter crackers, and of course, sour candy. Having a snack bag and cooler saves us a ton of time and money when we are on the road!
Cracker Barrel Breakfast
If you are a Texan then you know what Buc-ee's is! If you are not from Texas...Buc-ee's is the absolute best and BIGGEST convenience store that has the cleanest restrooms you have ever seen. They have all kinds of goodies too from BBQ sandwiches, salads, homemade fudge, sweet tea, cake balls, home decor, and the list goes on and on. We never pass a Buc-ee's without stopping. The restrooms are just too clean to pass up!!!
Zip-loc Bag Packing
If you have taken a long trip, you know packing and having space is a big deal. You can't pack for 15 days and still keep everything organized. We are a little OCD so we came up with a system that works perfectly to keep your suitcases nice and tidy. We use Ziploc bags! Each day the kids have everything they need in a 2 gallon Ziploc bag. We label the bags by day. Everything from a shirt, shorts, underpants, socks, whatever they are wearing is in the bag. This makes it so much easier to get dressed. All you have to do is grab the bag, toss it to your kiddo, and everything is there for them to get dressed. This makes getting dress 100% easier and wastes no time trying to find socks at the bottom of your suitcase.
A quick picture from one of our trips while we were trying to pack and get things together.
Speaking of suitcases, we usually don't use suitcases when we take long road trips. We take trunks. We found these plastic trunks at Academy that were very inexpensive and make the perfect luggage to stack in the car or on a travel rack. They also make packing our Ziploc bag system super easy because we can order the bags by days like a filing system. Finally, trunks are easy to get in and out of the hotels when you making a quick stop to get some sleep. We usually only use the trunks and use one duffle bag to put toiletries in so we have the bare essential easy to find.
Nothing is worse than having dirty clothes and not knowing what to do with them. Do you put them back in your suitcase, do you collect a million small hotel bags with dirty clothes? It's hard sometimes to keep it all organized. A few years ago, We bought a big laundry bags on Etsy with our initials monogrammed on them. We love having these bags because it's the perfect place to put all the dirty clothes, and honestly, they still look more stylish than the plastic hotel bag. On long road trips, most likely you are going to have to do laundry. We usually, pack a small bag with laundry detergent bottles and dryer sheets. You save money, time, and space by not having to purchase detergent at the hotel or carrying a large detergent bottle with you in your luggage.
Long road trips require lots of entertainment for the kiddos. A few ways we like to pass the time is to listen to books on tape and have the kiddos watch old 80s movies like Field of Dreams or The Great Outdoors. We also let the kids build tents in the back of the car. This is one of the kids' favorite traditions. They usually have a pretty cool set up with the snack bag and cooler right in the middle, of course!
Boy...when you are driving 17 plus hours it can feel like an eternity! We started making an hour countdown to make us feel like we make major progress throughout the trip. Every hour we scratch off a number. It doesn't seem like a big deal but when you are driving for a long time....you live for those hour scratch-offs. It's just a fun way to give you something to look forward to!
Finally, this one is a bit cheesy, but hey we are cheesy so no worries here! Any time we take a trip before we leave, we make everyone in the car say "Go Family!" We know...it's kind of silly, but we have done it so much we don't think we could begin a trip without it. It's just who we are! Also, even though our kids think it is silly, we guarantee when they have their own families and they are going on trips...it's going to always start with a "Go Family!"
We hope you like our family road trip traditions, and hopefully, use a few for your next family trip. Please share with us some of your family traditions when traveling on Instagram @theoldrivernest. We don't think there are ever too many traditions!
Amber & Brooke :)
A few pictures from our favorite trips:
Devils Tower National Monument
Fly fishing in Montana
Skiing in Breckenridge
College World Series
Horseback Riding in Montana
Yellowstone National Park
Sea World, San Antonio, TX
Amish Country, PA
Niagara Falls, Canada
Grand Ole Opry