The Art of Traveling in Two Cars

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The Lord has been gracious in providing opportunities to present our ministry to Missionary Acres to several churches in the past few months. That’s given us plenty of time to practice the art of traveling in two cars.

We have learned a few things that make this form of travel easier, and wanted to share them.

Why Are We Traveling in Two Cars?

But first, the answer to one of the most common questions our family gets: why are you traveling on deputation in two cars?

The short answer is because the vehicles we currently own do not hold 11 people. One is a 2002 Suburban, and the other a 2005 Buick LeSabre. Neither is large enough to hold the whole family.

We are saving up for a 15 passenger van, but progress on the van fund has been slow. We felt led to change our financial focus at the start of 2019, and threw all of our extra money on our final remaining debt (student loans.)

Praise the Lord, as of mid-May 2019, we are now debt free!

So now we are back to working on saving for our van fund. And we trust that the Lord will provide the funds when the time is right.

Until then, we have two cars that run and we are thankful for the opportunity to use them on deputation.

How to  Travel in Two Cars

Now it’s time to dive into the logistics of how we make traveling in two cars work.

Make a Seating Chart

The kids travel so much better when they know what to expect. We have avoided many arguments about who gets to ride in Dad’s car or with Mom simply by making a seating chart.

Typically, we make one for each day of traveling. That way we switch things up a bit and everyone gets the opportunity to ride in each car.

Our disabled son, Owen does have a designated seat. He doesn’t do well respecting personal space, so he gets the entire back bench of the Suburban on every trip. We have a special harness that helps him not slide down in his seat.

Our seating charts aren’t fancy. Before each trip, we get a piece of white printer paper and draw two car shapes. We put small squares for each seat.

Then we start filling in names. Once we have a solid plan for the trip to someplace, we flip the paper over and draw two new cars. Then we mix things up a bit and write in names for the way home.

Have a Communication Plan

When you’re trying to stick together on the road, communication is key. This communication starts before the cars pull out of the driveway.

It’s essential that BOTH cars know where we are headed, have an address, and know the location of scheduled stops. As we hit the road, we try to stay together. But, we know that things happen and that we can easily get separated along the way.

By having some designated “meet-up” zones, along with the final destination, we can ensure the whole family gets to where we are going.

It’s also nice to have some communication along the way. This is great for “Hey, we need to get into the left lane” or “We really need to find a rest stop” type of messages. But, it’s not safe to use cell phones to talk back and forth.

So, we bought a pair of walkie-talkies, and make sure there is an older kid in each car who can help facilitate communication.

These are the ones we currently use:


Around the farm where we live, they have a great range! On the road, they don’t work quite as far. But, they seem to work as long as we don’t get too far separated.

Prepare Both Cars

You never know when you’ll run into trouble along the road, so it’s important that both cars are prepared. We have emergency boxes for each car, and an emergency supply of shelf-stable food.

Additionally, we make sure each car has a stock of diapers, wipes, and spare clothes for the little guys. We learned the hard way that leaving all the diapers in one car is a bad idea…

Another aspect of preparing both cars is in getting gas. Since both cars have different fuel capacities, we plan on just filling them both up if one needs gas. That way we don’t have to worry about one car approaching empty on the road.

Be Aware of Handling Differences

Our cars handle differently. The Buick is a lot smaller and can switch lanes much more easily, especially when there’s traffic. Or bad weather.

The Suburban is rear wheel drive and does better in some weather driving conditions. The Buick does better in others.

So by taking into account parts of the trip that could be difficult for either vehicle, we can have a plan for those spots. It may mean one driver needs to slow down and drive slower than they typically would.

Be a Good Leader

When you’re caravanning with two cars, it’s important for the lead car to be a good leader. This will help you both arrive at the destination together.

Ways to be a good front driver include:

  • Paying attention to traffic signals and slowing down on yellow lights instead of going through
  • Keeping an eye on the other car and making sure they aren’t getting too far behind
  • Pulling over if you do get separated and waiting (with the goal of the rear car to let the front one in!)
  • Not changing the route without communicating the change

Be Content

Taking two cars is not ideal. We’d love to be altogether in one vehicle.

But, we know that we can be content in all things, even in driving two cars. By watching our attitudes and making it an adventure, we’re able to make deputation travels a fun event for the family.

We are eager to take our next trip and hit the road again!

If you’re interested in having the Tanner family into your church to share their burden for Missionary Acres, please contact Bryan at tanners2ma @




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