Being a military family means that we don’t live close to our families. At all. We travel at least every other month. Traveling can be stressful enough, but when you add three children? You have yourself one fun filled day of driving, crying children, bathroom stops and stress out the roof for the last hour or two of your trip.

Within the past few years I have learned what works for my family–and what doesn’t. Here are five tips you can hopefully use as you travel for the Thanksgiving or winter holidays.

1. Buy your child new activities for the car trip.

You can find many great travel toys, games and activities for the car. You’ll want to choose something new and a product that your child doesn’t play with every day. Pick one that isn’t frustrating for your child, and try to avoid messy items such as crayons that can melt, stickers that will be stuck all over the windows, etc. Don’t want to break the bank? Check out your local dollar shops.

2. Healthy snacks are a must.

I admit that it can be very tempting to stock up on candy, cookies and processed food at the gas station, but think about what all of those foods contain–zero nutritional value. Pack fresh fruit, bring water to refill sippy cups, whole wheat crackers, peanut butter, and even some sliced vegetables. If the food is a choking hazard don’t pack it. Stick with foods that can be cut up or sliced if necessary.

3. Pack your own meal instead of hitting up the fast food restaurant.

This typically means having a cooler stocked with the essentials such as mustard, sliced meat, peanut butter, bread, fruits and vegetables. Find a nice place to stop, allowing your child to run around and get some fresh air. Not only are you packing healthier alternatives you also saved yourself at least $20!

4. Still have scheduled nap times.

I know how easy it can be to let the DVD player run movie after movie, but turn it off to ensure your child naps. This will give you some quiet time and ensure that your child will be their happy self once you arrive at your destination.

5. Don’t forget to have something for you to do.

It can often be difficult to have any sort of quiet time, but on the rare occasion that all three of my daughters are asleep it is nice to have a new book or magazine. This allows me to have some me time in spite of being cooped up in our minivan with four other people.