5 Crucial Tips For Roadtripping With Kids

Well I don’t want to jinx anything by saying it out loud, but I do believe things are finally quieting down around here. Our schedules have been so busy for the last two months that I’ve landed in July and I’m not even sure how I got here.

I’m entirely disoriented but I only have 5 days to get my bearings, because the most important week of summer (as far as the kids are concerned) is almost upon us.

It’s here, you guys.

It’s time for The Annual Ambers Road-trip.

Yes, that “s” is meant to be plural, not possessive. As most of you know, my best friend of 30 years happens to share my name. Maybe it’s kitschy to share a name, maybe it’s just a happy coincidence, but I like to think it was all part of God’s clever plan. Either way, it’s convenient because we do tend to come as a package deal. There isn’t a time in my life that I don’t recall identifying as one half of “The Ambers.”

We do hope that we’re raising the bar with our name, because I’m not sure if you’ve noticed on your own, (or if you read my very serious and hard-hitting piece on the misfortune of being named Amber), but it’s true; there is a definite THING with Ambers in TV or film.

As in, they’re the worst.

They’re always either ill-fated, ill-mannered, or both, like a mean-spirited stripper in a neck brace, or Amy Poehler’s SNL character who was one-legged, flatulent, and proud of it. If you don’t believe me, click here, and I’ll prove it.


I’m getting a little off-point here, but just watch. You’ll see. Ambers are nuts, man.

In fact, maybe Amber and I are nuts too, because for the 3rd year in a row we’re hitting the road with our 4 collective children (usually it’s 5, but Amber’s oldest is 12 this year and opted for middle school summer camp instead of being crammed into a car with 4 littles for an indefinite number of hours).

It’s a tradition we were inspired to attempt by Melanie Shankle and her best friend, Gulley, who happen to be the brave, fun-loving souls come up with the idea in the first place. Related: If you haven’t read any of Melanie’s books, stop what you’re doing, order The Antelope In The Living Room first, (it’s my personal fave), and then carry on ruling at life (because you certainly will, if you read this book).


As you can imagine, these road-trips are not for the faint of heart. There are no husbands, no babysitters, no plane rides to exotic locations, and no fancy Pinterest car-activity-bags to fill the time. No, we go about it the old-fashioned way: Just 2 Ambers, a bunch of kids, and the open road. We do use Siri and make good playlists because we are not total savages, and because we have learned that music, among other things (such as flatulence and a dependable map), can make or break a road-trip.

Some might think we’ve suffered a lapse in judgement to take on such a journey, but I just like to think we are fun and brave.


The truth is, aside from my husband, Amber is the only other person that I could be trapped in a car with for 16 hours along with a whole gaggle of children (that really did happen one year) and not want to club myself over the head.


It’s been two years since our first attempt at road-tripping. You’ll recall there were some wins and some fails, and the next year there were more wins and fails, but there is always laughter and bonding and memories made, which is exactly why we do it. Also, I’d strongly argue that we’re getting better at this each time. The first year we didn’t do quite enough, the second year we did way too much, and this year I think we may have struck have perfect balance. I can’t really be sure yet- ask me after I’ve had my coffee on the first morning back home. 

To be totally honest, we just nailed down our final plans yesterday, which is good because we leave in a few days. Although we’re still ahead of the game this year, because usually we only have a vague idea of where we’re going and what we’re doing until the very last minute. But here’s the thing with Amber and I- we don’t really care! As long as we’re together, odds are we’ll be having fun.

We know we’ll find our way to a beach somewhere on the California coast. We’ll see some sights. We’ll do some random tourist-y things. We’ll buy the kids some overpriced junky memorabilia and we’ll buy ourselves an overpriced bottle of wine, and unless everything we know to be true suddenly changes, I imagine some form of tragedy and hilarity will befall us along the way.

We’ve got a couple of big surprises planned for the kids this year, and I am so excited about it.

We decided to be extra fun and extra brave this year, and it’s either have best or worst idea we’ve ever had. Stay tuned. 


In the meantime I thought I’d leave this here, in case you happen to be a fellow traveler hitting the road this summer with tinies in tow. Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years (the hard way) :

  1. Whatever number of water bottles you think you’ll need for a long car ride- double it. This will also double the number of potty stops but by God, we can’t let them go thirsty. 
  2.  Crossing the street with five children is the equivalent of crossing the street with five drunks.
  3. Never underestimate the power of candy. Also, never underestimate the power of promising a “surprise” even when you have no clue what that surprise is yet.
  4. If you are wearing flip-flops in the vicinity of five littles your toes will be stepped on multiple times a day. You will be expected not to mind this.
  5. Anytime after hour 7 in the car with small children, expect psychotic bursts of hysteria. Laughing and gleefully shrieking one minute, crying and wailing the next. (The kids may do this also.)


One thought on “5 Crucial Tips For Roadtripping With Kids

  1. Beth

    You are both my heroes, because road tripping with two children was hard enough. Also, this, ” Crossing the street with five children is the equivalent of crossing the street with five drunks.” (ROFL)

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