Traveling with little people in tow takes serious discipline and planning. Diapers? Check. Snacks? Check. Lovies and stuffies? Check! Enough toys and gear to ensure no melt downs for 14 hours straight? Ummmm… can we get back to you? Even if you are a traveling master-parent, skills can always use a little perfecting. We’ve gathered our favorite tips and tricks for keeping our own kids cool during an all day migration; keep reading to find your new favorite move to master.

kidsinbackofcar_jessicalucia_flickr_holidaytravel_national_redtricyclephoto: Jessica Lucia via flickr creative commons

On road trips, we avoid stopping at fast food joints and instead, tailgate our way across the Southeast. I either pack food or hit a drive through, then find the nearest stretch of open space to park and roam. I change diapers on the backseat, the older boys find a tree, the dog gets to roam, and we all get back in the car feeling halfway human.

We also are a big fan of cranking up the radio and rolling down the windows while we belt out our own version of whatever song is playing on the radio. That’s usually just in the last hour of an all day trek, when we’re all about to lose it.

— Shelley Massey, Atlanta City Editor

travelingwithkids_gabbycullen_national_Redtricyclephoto: Gabby Cullen

If you’ve got a toddler or preschooler, buy him his own wheelie bag. He’ll love being just like Mommy and Daddy at the airport, which means he’ll tote his bag himself and the act of wheeling it will slow him down (a major plus if you’ve got a runner!). Then fill the bag with all kinds of goodies to keep him busy on the airplane, iPad plus headphones, coloring books, something little to open like a mini Transformer or car, stickers, snacks, etc.

— Julie Seguss, Red Tricycle Bump + Baby Editor

toyincar_rik_flickr_holidaytravel_national_redtricyclephoto: Rik via flickr creative commons

To avoid the Micky D’s drive thru trap, we pack our own lunches. But to get our little man hyped about bagged lunch (vs happy meals) we slip a little toy in the brown bag (sometimes it’s a toy he already had hiding at the bottom of his toy bin). #sneaky

— Ayren Cannady-Jackson, Washington D.C. City Editor

roadtrip_saraolsher_holidaytravel_national_redtricyclephoto: Sara Olsher

I got Charlie some cute headphones. We use books on tape and I’ve heard there are kid-friendly podcasts worth checking out!

— Sara Olsher, Red Tricycle Marketing + Community

unwrappingonplane_suzieridgeway_travelingtips_national_redtricyclephoto: Suzie Ridgeway

When we take our annual, cross-country flight to see the grandparents, I always bring small, wrapped gifts for my daughter to open each hour we are in flight. The gifts all fit in my carry-on and are always some kind of activity that will keep her entertained and anticipating what the next hour will bring. They don’t need to be expensive. Some of the items have been silly putty, a pad of paper and colored pencils, a sticker activity book, a picture book and a small stuffed animal. We have been doing this since she was a toddler and she still loves it at 9 years old.

— Suzie Ridgway, Portland City Editor

kidstraveling_notebook_amybizzari_travel_national_redtricyclephoto: Amy Bizzari

I always encourage my kids to document their trip by providing them with a new spiral notebook and a new set of markers. It’s fun to see our family vacation from their perspective! We also always bring water bottles from home and save not only money but also the environment by refilling them while on the go.

— Amy Bizzari, Red Tricycle Chicago and National Writer

airtravelwithkids_gabbycullen_holidaytravel_national_redtricyclephoto: Seth Cullen

My family and I make the trek from Dallas to San Francisco at least twice a year, and have friends all over the country, so we fly frequently. We try to plan our flights around nap times because our kids can/will zonk out for most of the flight. We also book seats near the bathroom (but not too close!), because my kiddo has to hit it up more than once. Last, but not least, we always bring brand-spankin’ new markers and coloring books, fully charged tech gear (DVD player, iPad) and special snacks that are reserved for family trips, which mostly consists of stuff I won’t let them eat on the regular! Making travel it’s own little tradition with unique customs helps to offset the stress of getting from Point A to Point B.

— Gabby Cullen, Red Tricycle National Editor

kidssleepingincar_EmramKassim_flickr_holidaytravel_national_redtricycle

For long (or short!) drives, welcoming the night (or very early morning) is just the ticket to clocking serious miles on the speedometer. Traffic is less, and our little co-pilots are usually dozing at this time. I’ve found that once on the road, it’s key to limit stops to the bare minimum because the motion and sounds of the car invite sleep. Slow down or stop altogether— risk little heads popping up! It’s best to fuel up the day before and grab a cup of coffee before you head out the door.

— Nikki Walsh Red Tricycle SoCal and National Writer

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What’s your favorite travel tip? Share it with us in a Comment below!

— Gabby Cullen