Radke Report: Road tripping with kids and cattle

Amanda Radke
The Radke Report

“On the road again…I can’t wait to get on the road again!”

Willie Nelson’s song seems to be the theme of 2023 as I’ve logged quite a few miles traveling to speak at agricultural events this year.

I have had stops in North Carolina, North Dakota, Arizona, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa, and the second half of the year looks to be just as busy.

It’s always an honor to be asked to speak on agricultural issues, but I must say, I have found a new joy and purpose in bringing along my kids for the ride whenever I can.

They’ve had the chance to experience so much just by tagging along with their mom. My daughter, Scarlett, has loved introducing her mom on stage. My son, Thorne, loves selling books and making change. And my two little boys, Alex and Croix — well, let’s just be honest, they are mostly interested in what snacks they can get when we make pitstops along the way.

That’s what I love about the agricultural community though. We are all one big family, and kids always seem to be welcomed into the mix wherever we go.

Last week, my husband, Tyler, and I loaded up our entire crew of rowdy cowkids, and drove 800 miles to New Mexico to visit friends and look at some cattle. I knew the drive would be tough with kids ages eight, six, five, and four, so I asked my social media friends for their top advice on traveling with little ones.

If you are a farming and ranching family, chances are your vacations, like mine, revolve around an auction, picking up livestock or equipment, or attending an educational seminar or meeting on agriculture. No, our trips do not ever include a fancy resort on a beach, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

If you’re like my family and find yourselves loading your kids up for long drives, this column is for you! I asked my friends on social media for their best advice, and here is what they had to say:

Limit screen time, and engage the kids along the drive. Count cattle, windmills, different colored vehicles, horses, and make it a scavenger hunt.

Pack along a book about states, and as you cross into each new state, read some fun facts about where you are traveling.

Go to the Dollar Store and pick up small items to be wrapped up and divvied out as boredom busters.

Stop and let the little ones run! There’s no better way to burn off energy.

Bring marker boards and quiz them on spelling words or math facts.

Listen to Audiobooks. “Hank the Cowdog” seemed to be an overwhelming favorite! My kids loved the series!

Make sure you’re getting in enough protein. It’s easy to overdo it on sugary snacks while traveling.

Strategically time your drive through the night or during nap time, so they will sleep along the way. Don’t forget neck pillows and blankets!

Pack baby wipes to clean up messes in the pickup.

Buy cheap tackle boxes, and fill each compartment with a different snack.

This is just a small sampling of the hundreds of responses I received. I hope this helps as you begin to plan summer road trips with your kids.

Safe travels wherever you’re headed, and remember, the miles and moments we share with our loved ones will be what we’ll cherish forever!

Amanda Radke is a fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in agricultural communications, education and leadership, Radke is a blogger for BEEF Daily blog.