Mid-July must be the beginning of summer travel season because I’ve noticed a conversational trend. It first came up at a birthday party two weeks ago and now it seems the go-to topic in any group of moms. It’s that consistent, worrisome stress, what in the world do you do with the kids while traveling?

Most people will head out somewhere beyond their norm during this season. This means moms will be dealing with their children outside their norm as well. Even an hour drive can be a nightmare when they’re grumpy. And what about those long trips … the ones that take all day but feel like a lifetime?

I started asking moms what they do when the topic came up and compiled a list of travel tips from real moms. Here’s their advice:

Snacks

Any kid from 1-18 can be entertained by food. We keep things pretty healthy and simple at home. When we’re on the road, we pull out all of the occasional foods and lots of them! You just have to look out for too much sugar (that will make them crazy) and too many drinks (that will make you have to stop a million times).

Audio Books

Last year, I accidentally discovered the magic of audio books. My child found a series of narrated Kevin Henkes books on my iPod and listened to them over and over. Even my older kids got in on the action when we played the stories for everyone. Since then, I’ve found some really great recordings at the library that tell the story better than I ever could.

Presents

I had to take my very active seven month old on a cross-country flight. I was dreading it, so I went to the dollar store and found all sorts of entertaining things to give her. Every time she got bored, I had a new surprise for her. When she got older, I started wrapping them for more drama. Plus, it kills extra time.

Activity Books

We stock up on Sudoku, word searches, and coloring books along with a new box of crayons. Once we even printed our own coloring books from the web so that it was exactly what the kids like. A great trick we learned along the way is to get the triangular crayons because they won’t roll away!

Books

We bring new books for each kid. This works from a touch and feel or a lift the flap for the baby to a novel for the big kids. When they were too young still for a chapter book on their own but too old for a simple picture book, we provided comics like Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes.

Electronics

Honestly, I’m the one that gets stressed out on road trips. I hate them. I just make sure my kids’ tech is fully charged and let them at it. They don’t usually get so much time on their screens, so they stay quiet, which means I stay sane.

A quote from one of the moms I spoke with, “For me, travel is about survival. Let some of the normal restrictions relax a bit and you’ll all be happier when you get there.” She’s right! My next trip, which is coming up, will be a lot less hectic. I hope whatever your summer plans may be, you stay sane and arrive happy!