Four business rules to use when you travel with kids

In the past four years, we’ve driven over 6500 miles with our kids. Sound like a living nightmare? Strangely, it’s not. My kids are good travelers. But I’ve also put some rules in place that make things go a lot more smoothly.

  • Have an agenda. Kids don’t like ambiguity. Actually, neither do most adults. I always map our route and make our hotel reservations in advance. Even though it takes some time upfront it’s a great relief to have a plan when we get in the car and I’ve found it contributes greatly to marital harmony. (Of course you don’t want to talk to me in those days I’m making arrangements. Crabby.)
  • Use a repeatable process. Years ago I decided I couldn’t pack for five people.  I made a list (yes, it’s in Excel) that we use every year when we pack. I hand the kids the list, they gather their stuff and I give it a quick check before they put it in their suitcases. During the trip, I keep note of things we could’ve used and things we forgot and add them to the spreadsheet when we get home. That way I’m ready for the next trip.
  • Give them a budget. I don’t know about you, but my least favorite part of the trip is the begging. You know, for every piece of junk or trinket they see along the route. I no longer want to police their purchases. Nor do I want to feel like a human ATM machine. I put aside an envelope with cash in it for each child. Once we’re on the road, they’re free to spend it on whatever they like – but once it’s gone, it’s gone. It usually takes one episode of buyer’s remorse for them to get the hang of it, but once you get through that it’s a great system.
  • Make a two-year plan. This is my best tip of all. If you can, have your next year’s trip in mind while you’re on the road. We typically travel the same way (west) which makes it easy. Along the way, I pick up maps and information on interesting site and activities. When we get home I have a folder full of stuff for my next year’s planning.

We’re gearing up for another trip in August. And I’m planning to enjoy it.

Have any tips for travel? Send them to – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.

3 thoughts on “Four business rules to use when you travel with kids

  1. Not bad guidelines.

    You have to be careful, though, with no. 1: have an agenda. It’s true that most people (especially kids) aren’t huge on ambiguity, but it’s also true than many travel for the expressed purpose of experiencing it, within the limited confines of their vacation time. So following an agenda on holiday can end up being antithetical to the business’s whole mission statement (is that the right corporate speak?).

    I prefer to sub “documented processes” for a strict agenda. So we might not always plan what’s going to happen, but hopefully we all know how to deal with it when it does.


    1. A good point! I usually plan stops with the express purpose of breaking up the drive but we do make unplanned stops along the way. My husband is a big fan of “roadside attractions”. In my family it works well to have a steady stream of activity – they’re busy – but not everyone is up for that much structure.


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