Ultimate List of Road Trip Essentials

When we moved to Tennessee 6 years ago, road trips to visit family in Michigan became a regular occurrence. If you add in the occasional trip to Pennsylvania to visit my sister’s family and various day trips around East Tennesse and the Carolinas, I think you could consider us experts. That’s why today I’m sharing my Ultimate List of Road Trip Essentials.

Ultimate List of Road Trip Essentials Tired Mommy Tales

Road Trip Essentials – Food

Food is always a priority and what’s a road trip without snacks! Our trips to Michigan are typically at least 10 hours of just driving so we have to be strategic with our stops. We also try to avoid breaking the bank with expensive items at gas stations or lots of fast food drive-thru.

We stick to water in the car. It easy to find along the way, is less of a mess if it gets spilled. We use the Thermos Funtainers that the girls take to school every day. I have a weird thing about putting anything but water in them so that’s another reason we stick to water.

These Munchkin snack cups were great when the girls were little and more spill-prone. They can reach their pudgy fingers in and pull the snack out but it won’t spill when tipped. That’s a huge plus in car rides.

Whenever we take our long road trips, I like to try to have lunches packed ahead of time. That doesn’t always work out but it’s such a huge help when it does. I’ll make some sandwiches or homemade “Lunchables” and fill up our EasyLunchboxes. Throw them in a cooler and we have the flexibility to stop wherever we want without worrying about what fast food restaurant will be at what exit. There are the cost savings too which always a huge benefit!

For snacks to eat while we’re driving, we try to keep them simple, not messy and not terribly unhealthy. Some favorites include trail mix, Goldfish, granola or breakfast bars, and fruit pouches.


Road Trip Essentials – Activities

Food and snacks can only hold them off for so long and in our experience, rarely does anyone nap. (Ugh!!!) So we’ve come up with an arsenal of activities that can keep them from the Kindle & iPod Touch & iPad as long as possible.

A family favorite is the license plate game. We’ve even brought this out on trips to Brooke’s Girl Scout camp and the girls who are riding with us love it! Keith & I play a hyper-competitive version even when we don’t have kids in the car with us. Plus, it’s fairly educational with the learning of state names and where they are located geographically.

Brooke has lost interest a little but Keith & I are totally into the license plate game on this trip.

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I’m excited that as Leah gets older she can start to play the next games with Brooke – Bingo & Hangman. More classic games that have been packaged to be perfect for car rides!! We have a magnetic set of each that is compact and fun. We’ve done a pretty good job losing pieces here and there so we also like the Melissa & Doug version that flip. I will tell you though – sometimes the “thwap” of flipping the pieces drives me bonkers!!

Ever since Brooke was a toddler and we took short road trips in Texas, Crayola Color Wonder markers have been a road trip staple. These markers only write on the special paper so I don’t have to worry about writing on car seats, clothes & skin. As the years have gone on, they’ve introduced fancy paper and even stamps which Leah has really enjoyed. My sister’s family does the drive from Pennsylvania to Michigan several times a year too so I got this Art Desk for my youngest niece to use in the car. It has everything all in one place.

Our family is a big fan of audiobooks & podcasts. It can be tricky to find something the whole family wants to listen to but the Disney Read-Along Storybooks with CD are usually a safe bet. Leah typically gets at least one for each birthday and Christmas so we’ve amassed a pretty good collection. They are typically about 10 minutes long so I get them all loaed up in the disc changer and we can go from story to story without skipping a beat.

We’re also fortunate that our library offers audiobook & eBook loans through OverDrive. I’ll browse through those collections before a trip as well to get some longer audiobooks to listen too. Amelia Bedelia books tend to be a hit. I can download them to my phone and push play whenever we’re ready.

We try to keep the electronics to a minimum in the car but they will come out eventually. Leah usually takes the Kindle Fire and plays her games on there & we have Frozen on there somehow. Brooke has her iPod Touch and now her school iPad to tinker with. No matter what they’re playing or watching, however, I can tell you that I don’t want to hear it. So headphones are absolutely necessary. We have these adorable ones for Leah and she loves them and they work well so it’s a win-win.


Do you take many road trips? What are your best tips & tricks for keeping everyone happy in the car?

Ultimate List of Road Trip Essentials Tired Mommy Tales

Prepare for the Week Ahead | Working Mom Week Prep

repare for the Week Ahead Tired Mommy Tales blog resize I have this problem where even when I know that doing something is in my best interest, I resist it. I dig my heels in real deep and stomp my feet and have the most epic (figurative) adult temper tantrum.

Then time passes and I’m cursing my past self for not doing the thing that would make life so much easier for my current self. It happens in the morning when I’m mad at myself for not closing Instagram and going to sleep earlier (sometimes Insta-stories are better than TV, y’all!), when I don’t take my contacts out before bed, and on and on.

Clearly, adulting isn’t my strong suit.

The past few weeks, maybe months, I’ve kinda slacked over the weekend. We’ve had plenty of activities keeping up busy but when at home, I spent a little too much time doing lots of nothing. Doing a little bit of nothing is no big deal but I was doing too much nothing.

At first, I was blaming on football season and all the solo parenting that happens this time of year. But the truth is I was just being stubborn.

Then Monday would come and I’d be overwhelmed and stressed when doing a few things to prepare for the week could have alleviated so much of my strife.

So this past Sunday, I put my big girl pants on and made an effort to get ahead before the week started. In the below video you’ll see me do a brain dump to get all my to-dos out of my head and onto paper, get my meal plan set for the week, tackle one thing at a time and lots of meal prep. Lots and lots of meal prep!

What kind of things do you like to accomplish over the weekend so that you can start the week on a good foot?

Dollywood Harvest Festival Preview plus Dollywood Discount Code

Read to the end to find out how to get discounted 1-day tickets to Dollywood!

Last week Dollywood invited Season Passholders to preview the 2017 Harvest Festival. So Brooke and I had ourselves a Mommy/Daughter Date Night and headed down to get our first glimpses of the Great Pumpkin LumiNights. It is the inaugural season for the Great Pumpkin LumiNights and Dollywood always puts on a good show so we were really excited to check it out and be among the first to see it.

Dollywood Great Pumpkin LumiNights Sign TiredMommyTales

Timber Canyon is one of our favorite areas of the park so getting to see it decorated with sculpted pumpkins, lighted arches, owls hanging from the trees and a graveyard scene filled with smoky fog was a real treat.

Dollywood Great Pumpkin LumiNights Arch TiredMommyTales

Dollywood Great Pumpkin LumiNights Big Pumpkin Structure TiredMommyTales

We only had 3 hours to experience as much as possible so we looked around a bit and then made time for a few rounds on Thunderhead. It was super fun, as always, and I got a kick out of the blinking, light-up suspenders the ride hosts were wearing. Dollywood is so great at those little details!!

Dollywood Pumpkin Sculpture TiredMommyTales

We did some more wandering and decided to head toward Wild Eagle. We passed an incredible wall of pumpkins with flowers carved on them. It was amazing. We also took a minute to watch the Master Carver at work. He had done an amazing Eagle and was getting to work on a bat while we watched. I’m looking forward to talking to him for a post I’ll be doing to the Dollywood Insider’s Blog later this month.

Dollywood Pumpkin Master Carver TiredMommyTales

Drop Line Jack O Lantern Faces TiredMommyTales

Mystery Mine TiredMommyTales

Y’all there is just something about riding Wild Eagle at night. Unlike the rest of the park, it wasn’t lit and it took the ride to a whole other level. It added an extra degree of fear and enhanced the peaceful element of the ride at the same time. It’s really the best ride I’ve ever been on. I don’t know how they managed to create a ride that is thrilling & exciting and peaceful at the same time but I love it.

Our next mission was to explore the special Harvest Festival treats. We saw signs for Pumpkin Pie Funnel Cakes, Warm Spiced Apple Cider, Pumpkin Apple Tarts and as we were making our way back toward Timber Canyon, we made a pit stop at the Glow Maze. The pathway to the Glow Maze showcased pumpkins painted with neon colors that popped in the black lights. A little note: the Glow Maze is definitely geared toward the younger set. It’s more of a path than a maze.

Black Light Pumpkins TiredMommyTales

After the maze, we rededicated ourselves to finding a Featured Treat. Again, we to sidetracked but something fun! Around 8:45, Harvey the Pumpkin, Vine Vinny & the rest of the Harvest Festival characters got together in front of Drop Line for a super fun Boogie Woogie Dance Party! Brooke and I had a blast singing and dancing along and so did rest of the crowd around us.

Unfortunately, when the dance party was over, that meant our night was over too. It was 9:00 and time to head toward the exit. We still hadn’t found our treats so we popped into the Spotlight Bakery. The selection of Harvest Festival-themed treats was amazing. Ultimately, we decided on a pumpkin shaped sugar cookie and a candy corn Rice Krispie Treat. They were so good!!

A quick tram ride back our parking lot and we were headed back home. We are looking forward to being back next weekend to get a whole day (and night) of rides, shows, food & festival fun!!

Discount Code for 1-Day Tickets

Now for the deal on 1-day tickets – head to the Dollywood ticket sales page and enter the code DWINSIDERS7 to get $5 off the purchase of a 1-Day ticket. This discount code is effective starting today. These tickets are eligible to be upgraded to season passes and are also valid for Arrive After 3, Next Day Free.

Will you be headed to Dollywood this fall?

Dollywood Harvest Festival Preview TiredMommyTales

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