family fun Featured Travel With Kids

Scavenger Hunt Ideas – Road Trip

If you read my any of the posts in our Scavenger Hunt Series, you know that we are always racking our brain for some good scavenger hunt ideas.  When you mix our love for road trips and our affinity for a good ol’ treasure hunt together – what you get is perfection!

roadtrip scavenger hunt ideas

Treasure hunting or playing ISpy in one way or another is something we do every time we travel any distance and we usually like to attach a prize to it.  Good healthy competition baby!  It’s a nice way to pass the time cooped up in the car and keep the kids engaged in something other than eating, arguing or complaining for hours on end.

When I put this Road Trip Scavenger Hunt together, I wanted to make it pretty generic so it would work for you no matter where you live or travel.  Obviously it won’t suit every location perfectly, but if you know of things your kids are sure to see that aren’t listed on this scavenger hunt, just write them on the back and have them check them off as they spot them.

scavenger hunt ideas road trip


Bonus points for whomever can find a pay phone!  I included that one for an extra challenge! 🙂

I hope your family enjoys this fun little treasure hunt on your next long car ride or road trip. Hopefully it will reduce the “are we there yet” interrogation from the backseat. Fingers crossed!

I am currently putting together several other scavenger hunt ideas for you – specifically for when you are out and about.   A few of them you can keep an eye out for are:

  • AIRPORT Scavenger Hunt
  • BEACH Scavenger Hunt
  • CAMPING Scavenger Hunt
  • CITY Scavenger Hunt
  • ZOO Scavenger Hunt

These are the ones I’ve published so far:

I know they are a little silly, but the kids (and me!) think they are super FUN!  If you think scavenger hunts as cool as we do make sure to check out our “scavenger hunt ideas” board on Pinterest for more great ideas!

And don’t forget about the other post I wrote about games and other ways to keep the kids entertained when you are on the road!!!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Travel Tips Travel With Kids

Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained on a Long Drive SO YOU DON’T LOSE IT!

road trip games

This list of road trip games and activities is designed to keep the party goin’ and the peace flowin’ long after the excitement of leaving town has worn off.

It’s true that if you are traveling any real distance, it takes a while longer to get to your destination.  And with kids it can take A LOT longer!  Nursing breaks, potty stops, etc.  I mean, it can make your head spin!  But, man, there is just NOTHING like the open road!

road trip with kids

It’s exciting to jump out of your regular routine and into the car on your way to a new and exciting destination.  Jamming out to your favorite tunes, singing along with the kids and making fun pit-stops at random places.  However, after a few hours go by you get slapped in the face with the reality of the situation.  All that excitement turns into “Are we there yet?”  “When are we getting there?” “Mom, I have to pee again.” “I want to get out of the caaarrr, I’m booored.” And you might just think of turning around and giving up on the trip….

Don’t do it!  Stay in the game.  YOU GOT THIS!  Take some of these game ideas on your next road-trip so you don’t think about running the car off the road – on purpose.

Games & Activities for the Road

  • Give the Kids a Pep-Talk before your big adventure.  Whaaaat?  Where’s the fun in that?  The Man and I have found that this one thing can make or break a getaway for our family.  If you are unlike us and have a super chill, laid back crew, you may not need to give details and set expectations, but for some it can be a real life saver.    Make sure to have a few goodies stashed away so you can reward their good behavior.
  • Travel with a Mascot.  Have the kids pick out a stuffed toy from their collection and put them in charge of coming up with unique places to photograph it along the way.  Then post pics on Facebook or send them to close family and friends.  You could even make a game of it and have people guess where you are.  The kids will love it!
  • Give the Kids the Camera to play with in the beginning of your trip to take photos of whatever they want.  You can tell them to play ‘photographer’ and later they will help make an awesome scrapbook with all their cool photos! This might be exciting for them(depending on the kiddo)  but at the very least it will entertain them for a bit.
  • Bring some NEW Toys!  Make sure it’s something they can actually play with in the car.  Legos, for example, could be a horrible idea for the car – they are tough to build in a small space while you are strapped down- not to mention their proclivity to fall through the cracks and end up in the floorboards.  Our boys, however, love them so much that it’s worth the extra effort.  If the payoff for your family isn’t quite the same stick to practical games or toys that won’t wreak havoc on your interior!
  • Games in Travel Size can be purchased at most convenience stores.  You can find mini-magnetic chess, shoots and ladders… all the classics without the huge game board and 1000 pieces.
  • Bring the Electronics.  They will get used!  Items like the iPod, portable DVD player, and any other handheld game devices can serve as incentives for good behavior or just a break when you get tired and want some quiet time to yourself.
  • Worksheets, Crossword Puzzles, Word Finds, & Funny Fill-in-the-Blank Stories can keep them distracted from the hours of being stationary.  Print them out or buy them at the dollar store.   Make sure to include coloring books and blank pieces of paper in your arsenal so they can color pictures for someone special back home and make their own ‘postcard!’   
  • Load up on Snacks.  Everyone is bound to get the munchies on the long drive, and it’s a pain to stop every few hours.  Give them treats when they answer trivia questions right, or win a family game.  Tell them they can eat the healthy snacks now, and after dinner dig into the good stuff!

healthy snacks road trip
healthy snacks road trip

  • Have Podcasts or Audio Books downloaded so the whole family can enjoy a story on the way to your destination.  Our personal favorite is Adventures in Odyssey which can be found at  This can keep the kids interested for a quite a while!
  • Play iSpy and Other Classic Car Games.  Since you are driving, there will be a time limit which can add to the fun.  They must guess quick! Also, you can make fun sentences with license plates.  If a license plate says FFG 2MS you could say, “Funny frogs go 2 Miami Sunday.”

road trip games

  • Reward them for Resting!!!  The kids might fall asleep naturally but a bit of encouragement won’t hurt! Tell them they should be rested up for the day of fun! So nap now…A LOT…like the whole drive if you want to.
  • Don’t Skip the Pit-Stops.  Resist the urge to jump right back in the car but take time to stretch out and let the kids burn some of their energy.  Kick the ball around or play tag and get them running.  It does add a few minutes to the trip but the payoff is worth it.

road trip games

  • Avoid Chains if possible, and if the kids are old enough have them help you pick out what unusual or award-winning restaurant to eat at along the way.  A local hole in the wall is way more memorable than a quick drive-thru.

I hope this list of Road Trip Games & Activities is useful for your family and helps you stay relaxed and have more fun on your next long drive!  From our personal hours logged on the road, my best advice is to make every positive thing they do a BIG deal.  Obviously, if you do that the kids will be more engaged and want to spend more time doing whatever it is they are being reinforced to do.

Is there something I missed?  What are your favorite games and activities for the road?  I’d love to hear from you, so make sure to add them to the comment section so other traveling tribes can benefit from your wisdom!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Travel Tips Travel With Kids

Air Travel with Kids – 10 Tips For a Stress-Free Flight

Air travel with kidsAir Travel with kids can be a downright frightening proposition, but with careful planning, I assure you, there is nothing to be afraid of!  My hope is that this article will take you from trepidation to hopeful anticipation!

To help you maximize the FUN and minimize the frustration next time you travel by air here are 10 tips to a stress-free flight:

  1. Pack Intentionally and Effectively:  Your stress- free flight starts long before you set foot on the airplane.  Packing well is the ticket to an enjoyable flight.  Pack a few items in your bag that you can use to coax your child into behaving when things aren’t looking so well.  Also, let each child carry their own backpack full of items to keep them busy while on the plane or during a layover.  Make sure to pack light enough so that you have a hand free to attend to your children throughout the day
  2. Curbside Check in:  It does cost a few bucks- but trust me- if you have to navigate long lines in a busy airport with little ones it’s worth every penny!  Usually located on the departure level of the airport near the entrance the “Porter” will help you get checked in and on your way.  Don’t forget to tip the Porter for his service.  Standard rule is $1 per bag. Ship other items. If you have to bring more things, you can choose to ship them to your destination earlier as this eliminates the need to carry them with you, especially when you are traveling with kids that also demands more attention.
  3. Set Expectations:  Talk to your kids about how you want them to behave and what is expected of them while they are on the airplane.  I have found that even from a young age my kids did better when I set a couple minutes aside to do this.
  4. Secure Documents and Valuables: Be sure to keep all important documents like passports, credit cards, IDs, tickets, and vouchers in a safe place.  The last thing you need while you are trying to wrangle Johnny is to have to worry about whether these essential items are protected.
  5. Bring cash: Expect additional expenses, especially when traveling with kids. Needs and wants may be uncontrollable at times and you surely don’t want to encounter money problems during emergency cases.
  6. Plan for Pressure: If you are traveling with an infant, make sure to have a bottle or pacifier in your personal bag for take-off and landing- even if it’s a short flight.  Sucking can help babies deal with changes in air pressure. If the child is being breastfed, be ready to nurse on board. If you are worried that someone might be upset, bring a nursing cover.   A screaming baby is far more difficult to manage than an annoying glance by an insensitive person- so smile and carry on!
  7. Bring Earplugs: Not for you- but those nearby!  A bit of humor can go a long way when you are closely confined!
  8. Keep ‘Um Eating:  With the crazy amount of money the airlines are charging for snacks these days its easy to grit your teeth and wait until the flight ends to satisfy the rumbling tummies of your family.  This is a HUGE mistake.  Make sure to plan ahead by bringing enough food with you to keep your kids bellies full.  Low blood sugar is the last thing you need to be dealing with at altitude!
  9. The Art of Distraction: Toys and other entertainment materials are important. Kids love to play. By keeping them busy, you reduce the chance of them acting out.
  10. Don’t Panic:  Kids pick up on our stress and anxiety so regardless of how stressful an event may get, take a deep breath and try to relax. Remember- You Got This!  Accept the fact that mishaps can happen, people can be insensitive, and you can’t always control your kids behavior.  Just do your best and then sit back and enjoy the ride!

air travel with kids

I hope these tips help you next time you fly with your kids!  If you know of other helpful tips, we’d love to hear them and maybe even add them to future posts:)

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Our Travels Reviews Travel With Kids

Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise, Washington

Mt. Rainier National Park EntranceMount Rainier National Park – Drive to Paradise
What does a mother do who is traveling with kids when her patience is running thin and her husband is out-of-town?  She packs up the kids, grabs her mother and drives to Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park!

Mount Rainier National Park is shockingly beautiful!  The drive to Paradise from the Seattle area is absolutely stunning.  I could feel the tension leaving my body the longer we were driving along the winding road toward the Mountain.

Although I was raised in the Seattle area and had visited Mount Rainier two or three times in my life I was once again in awe of its majesty.  It is something to behold far off but up close its beauty and strength is so much more pronounced.   We drove there via Enumclaw, WA.  Along this route to the park you will find the White River, periodic canopies of trees over the roadway, and charming cabins that tempt you to stay.  Be careful to watch for signs.

Both mom and I were so engrossed in the scenery we missed the turn altogether!  We didn’t realize until MUCH later when we were headed down the other side of the mountain.  Whoops!  The entrance fee to get into Paradise is $15 per vehicle.  The pass/receipt is good for 7 days so you can really stay and explore as long as your schedule allows.

From the Seattle area it is faster to visit Mount Rainier National Park via Sunrise so I had actually never been to Paradise.  Have I missed out!  There is so much to see on the way up.

Once you arrive at the top the new Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise welcomes you.  If you don’t pack a lunch you can buy a snack or full meal at the café.  The gift shop has some great gear and souvenirs you can pick up.  My mom bought some lovely hammered earrings to remember the day.  Isn’t jewelry such a great thing to buy for a souvenir?  One way to make sure you enjoy what you bought instead of it finding its way to the trash can soon after you leave.

Mom has arthritis so it wasn’t going to work to take a long hike but we did enjoy a 20 minute walk up.  She took Girlr down to enjoy ice cream on the terrace so the boys and I could spend more time hiking.

After visiting I have to say I would LOVE to stay a night or two at the lodge.  You can pay a little less to share a bathroom with other visitors or splurge for your own!  I’m not sure I’m quite ready yet to share a toilet with strangers.  Since our kids aren’t old enough to enjoy two full days of hiking I see it better suited for a romantic getaway.   Perhaps David and I will add that to the bucket list!

Travel with Kids travel tips when heading to Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise

  • Be ready to dress warm by bringing a jacket or sweatshirt or layer your clothing so you are comfortable no matter what the weather.
  • Check for road closures/conditions at Mount Rainier National Park Road Status Web Page
  • Leave early in the morning so you have lots of time to explore.
  • Pack a lunch so you can enjoy a picnic.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.  At this elevation you will need it! You and your kiddos can easily get nauseated and feel sick if you don’t drink enough water at high elevations.
  • Binoculars are fun to have.

Pros:  Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise

  • Stunning scenery, pictures just don’t do it justice.  It is breathtaking.
  • Makes for a great day trip.
  • Relaxing drive and walk around Paradise.
  • There are plenty of places to get out and explore along the way.
  • The standard park pass lasts 7 days from when you buy it so you can go back for more!
  • Great hiking trails.
  • Family friendly.
  • Great way to connect with your loved ones and nature!
  • Hot food, lodging, and nice gift shop at Paradise.

Cons: Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise

  • There could be stop and go traffic depending on road work.
  • Must be super vigilant if you travel with kids because at certain parts of the hike there may a steep drop just off the trail.

If you can’t decide between visiting Paradise or Sunrise on your trip to Mount Rainier National Park, make sure to check out the post I published about our family hike at Sunrise.

Hope you feel inspired.  I can’t wait to go back!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road


Our Travels Reviews Travel With Kids

Review of Mount St Helens Washington

Review of Mount St Helens, Washington

We were all excited to make the trip and also write a review of Mount St Helens for those who travel with kids.  Since we both grew up in the Pacific Northwest The Man and I were looking forward to taking the kids to see the “mountain that blew up”.  The day started with stellar roadschooling by watching old videos of Mount St Helens from filmmaker Michael Lienau whom we met a few years back in Kansas City of all places.  When St. Helens exploded Michael and two other men were dropped in via helicopter to document the historic event.  He quickly landed in a life threatening situation.  Thankfully he survived and was able to get the rare up close footage of Mount St Helens we are privileged to watch decades later.

Despite missing the correct exit on the way to Mount St Helens, which extended our trip a bit, the drive was beautiful.  We stopped at a few educational centers on the way to Johnston Ridge Observatory, the most popular point of interest.  Unfortunately, at no point did we meet a single friendly park ranger.  We were VERY disappointed with this park.  If you want to visit a place that is kid friendly you may want to avoid the Mount St Helens visitor centers.  Biggie and E set to climbing a mound next to the Johnston Ridge Observatory when an authoritative ranger promptly ran over and gave us the what for.  Something about being fined 100 bucks for each stick they touch.  The only highlight was the oral history of the mountain given by an enthusiastic ranger to a large group of visitors.

Having just visited Mount Rainier National Park a few days before and being absolutely raptured by its beauty I was taken aback by how different the two mountains are.  Mount St Helens has an eerie, ominous feeling to it.  I suppose it is what one would expect from a volcano but not having given it much thought I was unprepared for it.  Just as St Helens displays the unforgiving groanings of nature with a massive crater, I couldn’t help but feel a similar emptiness.  Looking upon the destruction that hollowed out mountain and the barren landscape beneath left me longing for LIFE.

Travel with kids travel tips:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • Be ready to dress warm by bringing a jacket or sweatshirt.
  • Many of the attractions were closed when we went.  The best time to visit is between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • When you reach Johnston Ridge be sure to keep your kids on the trail.  The park rangers don’t have much patience those how disturb the landscape.
Pros:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • An active piece of history
  • Has its own beauty which is unusual to experience first hand
  • Very educational and great for roadschooling
  • The gift shop has beautiful things made from volcanic ash from St. Helens.  How cool is that?!
Cons:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • Not very kid friendly
  • Many of the visitor/educational centers along the way cost extra money
  • Ominous, eerie and unsettling feeling to it


City Guide Our Travels Travel With Kids

Things To Do In Bozeman MT with Kids

A Few Fun Things to do in Bozeman MT with kids

Kirk Park

There’s lots of fun things to do in Bozeman with kids.  After enjoying frozen yogurt at U-Swirl in Bozeman we crossed the street to Kirk Park so we could let the kids run that sugar right out of them.  What a great park.  Between the show put on by a young skater girl (we were super impressed) and the impromptu medieval sword fight by what appeared to be local thespians we had a great time!

Just off the heals of the summer olympics the volleyball courts were at capacity with people getting their game on.  I’m pretty average at every sport so these days when I play I like to pretend (without the knowledge of anyone else of course) to be a famous athlete.  Its fun, you should try it.  things to do in Bozemankirk park bozeman Whether you are passing through and need to stretch your legs or you live in Bozeman its a great park to check out.  It’s perfect for kids because it’s so large you can let them run free without worrying about them running out in the street.  We could have stayed the entire day.

The Gallatin Speedway

It can be so fun to travel with kids because you just don’t know what the day will hold.  A really fun thing to do with kids in Bozeman on a warm summer Friday evening is to head to the Gallatin Speedway to watch the races.

David took the boys to the dirt track and had a phenomenal time.  The place was packed with adults and kids of all ages.  With the beautiful Bridger Range in the distance and the smell of high-octane fuel in the air the Boy Scouts performed The Color Guard (basic flag opening ceremony).

gallatin speedwaythings to do in bozeman montanaDuring each heat the cars roared by tossing dirt into the air as they drove sideways down the tight oval track.  In between heats people flocked to the concession stand to buy cheese fries covered with chili, nachos, soda and every other kind of junk food you can imagine.  Finally, after the races, you can go down to the pits to see the cars, talk to the drivers and marvel in all the goodness that a summertime friday night at the races in a small town has to offer.

TIP – Bring some earplugs with you!

The Springhill Barn Dance

One of the reasons we love to travel is the opportunity we get to visit family.  My niece, AKA Shroomy, almost convinced me to wear Daisy Dukes for this event.  I mean, what is more fitting than jean shorts and cowboy boots for a Barn Dance?  In the end my good sense won out and I decided that she is 17 and I am NOT!!!

We just happened to be passing through Bozeman the weekend that Springhill Presbyterian was holding their annual community outreach barn dance.  What a treat.   The food was surprisingly good for a church event (no casseroles here folks) and the activities were perfect.  Hay rides, pony rides, huge blow up slides, face painting by an adorable 10-year-old, animal petting “zoo”, homemade pie station, live music.  You name it they had it.

Smiles all around!

things to do in bozemen with kids

things to do in bozeman montana with kids

things to do in bozeman montana

There are many more fun things to do in Bozeman.  We look forward to exploring it more on our next visit!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Our Travels Travel With Kids Uncategorized

The Adventure Begins – Our First Stop

I love road trips

On Our Way to Bozeman, MT

We had originally arranged to drop our belongings off in Denver at the storage unit we rented and stay the night at our friends’ home to get a good night sleep after the grueling move.  You never know what’s going to happen when you travel with kids.

Those plans changed after Girlr threw up all over me.   Twice.

I was afraid she may have come down with the flu and didn’t want her getting our friends’ kids sick so we decided to forego sleep and hit the road.  Turns out it was food poisoning from McDonald’s.  No kidding!

Traveling with kids can be challenging but driving through the night works well for us since our kids can fall asleep and wake up many hours down the road.  It cuts down on the whining that is bound to happen on a long drive.

kids sleeping in the car

Neck Pillow Anyone?!!!

As mountain starved as we’ve been we reveled at the sight of Bozeman’s Bridger and Gallatin mountain ranges as we arrived in the early morning.  They aren’t particularly majestic but they are beautiful and we welcomed the sight of them.

There is beauty everywhere if you look for it.  Homesteads and farms scatter the landscape along I-90 east of town.   Pine trees and firs populate the ground while streams and ponds wait to refresh the animals nearby.   Secluded mountain top homes make me crave solace and quiet.  The kind of quiet we will have to wait a couple decades for most likely.

In the meantime, I guess we’ll keep the kids and settle for the occasional use of earplugs! 

Driveway Camping in the Trailer

In the past we have not been big into camping as a family.  Not that we haven’t wanted to, it just hasn’t EVER happened.  So when the opportunity to stay in The Man’s sisters’ camper presented itself we jumped at the opportunity.

We just couldn’t resist that sweet smile E gave us in petition.  The same one he flashes when he really wants something.  It wasn’t hard to say yes.  Let’s be honest, a huge temperature controlled trailer in the driveway is not exactly “roughing it” but it is a good way for our clan to ease into it nonetheless.

So yes, we camped in Montana and we liked it!

driveway camping

Not a bad start to our crazy adventure.  We don’t know where this road will take us, but we are excited for what’s ahead!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

City Guide Our Travels Reviews Travel With Kids

Things To Do In Branson MO With Kids

Branson City Guide

things to do in branson with kids

I wouldn’t recommend taking a trip to travel with kids two weeks before moving but recommendations are overrated, except for ours of course!  Branson, MO is one of those coveted places for those of us who live, …err, used to live in the Midwest and there is a ton of great things to do in Branson MO with kids. It is one of the few recognizable vacation spots smack dab in the middle of the country and I love it!  Branson is a great family vacation idea and a good place to travel with kids as there’s a lot of neat things to do in Branson.

Silver Dollar City

Powder keg silver dollar city with kids

things to do in branson mo with kids

Silver Dollar City is our very favorite thing to do in Branson MO with kids.  It is such a unique theme park which makes you feel like you just stepped back in the 1800’s.  The staff dress in old fashion garb, bluegrass music tickles your ears and the flavors of summer make your mouth water throughout the day.  Shrieks and squeals from the park’s rides add to the excitement.  One thing that makes it such a special place for thrill seekers like us is that they let you take your little ones in line with you and hand them to the other parent/caregiver without having to wait through the line separately.

silver dollar city water rides

silver dollar city with kids

Places to Stay in Branson, MO

We have visited Branson countless times over the past few years and a few resorts are worth mentioning.

Dewey Short Visitors Center on Table Rock Lake

The new Dewey Short Visitors Center on Table Rock Lake is a must thing to do in Branson MO with kids, especially if you are into roadschooling.  The top deck will make you want to go on a romantic date with your love and follow it up with a slow dance.  So serene and beautiful.  Girlr was sleeping in Ol’ Faithful so The Man and I took turns with the boys.

I literally stood outside and breathed in the beauty from that top balcony.  Inside is a rustic, modern masterpiece.  Absolute eye candy for a wanna be designer like me!   Perfect for roadschooling with all the educational exhibits and hands on learning tools.

Branson Belle Dinner Show Boat

On the other side of the parking lot is the beginning of a bike and walking trail. Along the lake you will pass by the Branson Belle, a dinner show boat.  Even if you decide not to take the popular dinner cruise the gift shop and docks are worth checking out if you have the time.

Branson Landing

Branson Landing is an outdoor waterfront mall is a great thing to do in Branson MO with kids and we never miss it when we’re in town.  The water, fire and light show is a new attraction.  It is a short presentation synchronized to music.  It was a bit of a letdown if I’m honest.  Then again, it was free and was a good excuse to get off my feet, sit on the grass, and let the kids run around.  The boys liked the flames.

White River Fish House

Bass Pro Shops’ White River Fish House Restaurant was excellent.  Fish is a hard thing to get right.  There are few things worse than poorly cooked fish.  They did it very well and the atmosphere was well thought out.  We fed the fish on the back dock after lunch, it kept us entertained for a good 15 minutes.  Nice!

Branson is certainly a great place for a family vacation.  We really just scratched the surface of all there is to do there.  The kids still beg us to go back!  Silver Dollar City is the favorite of coarse!  I hope you feel encouraged to go there yourself!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road