Despite what you may think, going on a road trip with kids is not a frightful deed that only brave parents can handle. Fear not the “Are we there yet?” song on repeat coming from the back seat! With the right planning and these tips, your next family road trip can be less stressful and much funnier.
As with any other trip (especially with children), planning is key. Having as many things as possible under control reduces stress and makes it easier for you to handle any unexpected issue that may arise.
Is a Road Trip Right For Your Family?
No matter how much you and your partner love driving or for how long you’ve wanted to go on that road trip, if your children can’t tolerate short car drives, don’t expect them to enjoy the idea of being stuck to the car seat with a fastened seat belt for hours on end. If in doubt, go on short car rides first to test the waters.
Prepare Your Children And Their Space For The Road Trip
Share your travel plans with your children a couple of days before the departure day. Avoid informing them far too long before that in order to avoid making them feel over anxious about it. Make sure your children have comfortable car seats, adapted for their age. It is very important that they are safe, have a good head support and that they can comfortably spend long hours in the car. It’s a good idea to invest in at least one car seat organizer. They can hold all the stuff in one place, will save you lots of frustrations and makes it easier for children to reach out to their iPad, coloring books and markers, snacks, comic books… you mention!
Don’t forget to arrange sensible seating so that everybody can have a peaceful trip. If you’re travelling with more than one child and two of them don’t get along that well, try to keep them on separated rows or with another sibling in between..
Remember the basics
Consider your route and the driving conditions under which you will driving and make sure your vehicle is ready for them. Check the spare tire and take your vehicle for a thorough check up at a trusty mechanic’s and fix any issue that it may have. Sign up for a roadside assistance plan and make sure that your insurance policy is valid.
If you’re travelling across states or crossing borders, don’t start your road trip without checking the current driving regulations in place.
If you’ll be renting a vehicle, do some thorough research regarding car rental damage insurance and make sure you invest in a policy that provides you with ample coverage without costing you a fortune.
Pack Like A Rockstar!
With long days on the road, late nights and early mornings, nail packaging so that changing everyone into fresh clothes is hassle-free. Know the weather of the destination you’re visiting and of the locations you’ll be driving through to avoid over packing. It is important as well to know the activities you will be doing to make sure that you bring the right clothes and apparel if needed.
Depending on the type of accommodation you’ll be staying at, you may need to consider packing more clothes, bed linens and apparel. In other words, if you’ll be camping, you’ll probably need to include more luggage than if you’ll be making stops at hotels since there you can take advantage of the laundry facilities.
Experienced roadtrippers suggest those spending the night at hotels or roadside motels to pack a single small suitcase that will serve as an overnight bag for the whole family. Include there pajamas, a change of underwear, a clean set of clothes, toiletry items, etc and make sure it is easy to reach each night.
Needless to say, avoid bringing too much stuff as nobody wants to be cluttered in a small space! Not only it makes being in the car terribly uncomfortable but it’s also much messier and more stressing having to juggle between lots of luggage!
Avoid Driving Overnight
Despite how silly this piece of advice may sound, avoid driving overnight. We know that it can seem like a plan to drive as much as you can while the children are sleeping and quiet in the backseat. However, remember that early the next morning, your children will be well-rested and full of energy ready to hit on the new day while you…. Well, you wouldn’t have rested at all, your energy will not be at the highest level and even the least whining coming from the back seat will drive you nuts.
That said, park your car at night and get some rewarding good night sleep. You’ll feel much better in the morning!
Plan Your Stops Like A Champion
One of the keys to a successful road trip is planning your stops wisely. Make sure your stops are not just a few minutes long to refuel your car and buy some snacks but an important part of your road trip.
Grab a paper map and plan your route in a smart way. Try to strike the balance between highways that may allow you to cover distances faster and scenic roads that invite you and passengers to enjoy the view. Look out for interesting places to visit, attractions you can’t miss and nice places where you can get off the car to stretch your legs and your children can have fun. Bring a rope for skipping, a ball or a frisbee and spot parks where you can share a pic nic and enjoy yourself.
Active pitstops make it easier for children (and adults too) to cope with being confined in a car seat for hours. They are a nice way to instantly boost everybody’s mood!
Driving during summer time? Look out for lakes! What can be funnier than enjoying a swim when temperatures are warm? Or what can be more relaxing than splashing here and there or floating for a while?
Snack The Right Way!
Fast food chains can be found everywhere, they are relatively affordable and everybody loves burgers and fries or chicken wings with a bowl of Caesar’s salad, but the truth is that their menu is not the healthiest.
As part of your planning process, look out for restaurants and supermarkets where you can purchase and enjoy healthier options.
Bring enough snacks for everybody especially for your children! Needless to say, avoid sticky and messy food and sugary beverages but include plenty of sliced fruit, dried fruit such as nuts and almonds, cheese sandwiches, popcorn and breakfast cereals. If you have a cooler, pack it with ice and you can include yoghurt as well!
Don’t forget to take some basic tools for food prep: a set of travel cutlery, a peeler and a knife are definitely great ideas.
Keep Your Children Entertained
Bring a portable DVD player, iPads and their corresponding batteries as well as any other mobile device that your children have to keep them entertained. Remember to download any movie before hand as the Internet connection on the road can be sloppy or inexistent. However, don’t rely only on electronics and offer your children other unplugged options that can keep them far from boredom.
Traditional classic car games are always an interesting resource. From “I Spy” to alphabet games or the state license plate game, there are many games you can play in the car and no connection needed! Books for coloring, beaming, small toys and books can also be helpful!
Make sure that you have tons of music! Sing out your way to your destination! Audiobooks are great aids as well!