Road Trip with 5 Kids

Taking a road trip with 5 kids sounds crazy, right? Well, it wasn’t as bad as you might think!

People kept asking me if we were renting an RV or had a huge van to haul “all those kids.” Nope, just our Traverse, and a pull behind, pop-up camper. The Traverse comfortably seats all 7 of us. There’s not a ton of room behind the back seat, but we made it work. Each of us packed one backpack of clothes. Enough for 2-3 days. We stayed at a KOA just outside Custer, SD. They had laundry facilities, so I did laundry a couple times while we were there. No big deal!

Our vehicle also has a DVD player. We don’t have enough headphones for everyone, so we just put the volume to the back while they were watching movies, and we adults could chat up front. We had a very fair (and random) system for which order they got to watch movies in. Jason would pick a random letter of the alphabet, and we went around the car until one of the kids guessed right. Then, that kid didn’t get to pick in the next round. Each child got to choose one movie over the course of the trip.

Most of the children also had a Kindle, Kindle Fire, ipod, or phone with games with them. There was no shortage of electronics along, but we did limit the times they could use them. For example, on our two driving days, they had to put everything away after about 9 pm. When we went through the Badlands, and Custer State Park, they also had to have their electronics put away. We even “bribed” them to look for animals. If they saw an elk, we would pay them $50, a bear would earn $25. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t see either of these animals, but at least they were looking for them! We saw a lot of deer (whitetails and mule deer), burros, buffalo, a few mountain goats… details on all the cool stuff we saw and did will be in another blog post.

We also played a few “road trip games” along the way. The main one was the alphabet game. South Dakota is FULL of billboards along the way, making this a fun game for everyone. The rules were that you had to start at the beginning of the alphabet, and go in order. You could use multiple words on a sign, but couldn’t use one someone else used. The words on the signs had to START with the letter. Words for the game could be on any sign, but could not be found on a vehicle. It never failed that someone would be stuck on a letter, and then we would see it on a semi. When you have multiple people on the same letter, this game gets fairly competitive.

We also attempted to find out how many states’ license plates we could see. This was a fail on our part, because we started it on the way home, after stopping at Wall Drug. By this point, we were all tired, and everyone was vegging out. I was dozing in and out of sleep for most of the ride between SD, and MN.

A couple of other things that made road tripping with 5 kids bearable, we rotated seats every day. Some of our kids did better sitting next to each other than others. Rotating seating made it easier for everyone. We also had a headphones only rule. Anyone using an electronic device (ipod, kindle fire, etc) had to use headphones. Sometimes they shared their earbuds with the person next to them so they could both hear the show they were watching. Other times, it allowed them to “veg” without annoying everyone else in the car.

I admit, I was nervous about spending so many hours in the car with 5 kids ages 7-14, but it wasn’t bad at all… heck, we might even do it again some time!


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