One of our favorite ways to travel is by taking a road trip. It is the perfect way for the whole family to spend quality time together while exploring different destinations. There’s no worry of public meltdowns on planes, trains or buses—that’s not to say, however, that meltdowns won’t happen though!
Road trips with kids can help families reduce costs on their vacations; you don’t need to fork out for expensive airfares for everyone and you can pack a cooler for picnics along the way. Although, I must admit, while some kids may be excited to sit in the car for hours at a time, others can get bored incredibly quickly. Below I have shared some handy tips o help you plan your next (relatively) hassle-free road trip whether it is just up I-5 or across the country.
1. Plan Your Route, Stops & Accommodation
Unlike road trips with only adults, road trips with kids need a bit more planning. It can be a lot more stressful “going with the flow” when little voices are constantly asking if they’re nearly there yet. Research all elements of your trip before even thinking about setting off. Know the route that you will take, where you will sleep each night, how long you plan to spend in each place and stops along the way. Even if you do not book accommodation in advance, have an idea of what places would be good stopping points so that you have a rough idea of options before the sun goes down! But don’t let this planning stop you from detours along the way. Some of our best days have been because of random detours we saw advertisements for on the highway.
2. Make Sure There’s Enough Space for Everyone
Being crammed into a small space is never fun, especially when it’s for a long period of time. Pack smartly to make sure only the things you actually need for during the journey are in the car with you. Everything else should fit into the trunk. Nobody wants to be holding bags for a long journey or having their feet squashed by luggage. If you need more space, consider using a roof rack, a trailer, or a hitch carrier. Considering packing coolers, snacks, entertainment and comfort items in the backseat with all the luggage stored elsewhere.
Tip: If you are driving with small children, considering saving a space for a grown up to occasionally ride in the backseat with them to keep them entertained.
The number one tip for our successful road trips has been to drive for only a few hours a day and/or at a time. Factor in plenty of breaks as you drive from location to location. Not only is this essential for toilet stops but it can also help kids from getting too bored. Plan fun excursions along the way that will ensure everyone gets out of the car, walks around and burns off some energy. These planned stops also provide new avenues of discussion among everyone. Take a Frisbee and / or a ball for some fun at otherwise boring rest stops.
4. Switch Cars En Route
If you are traveling with other people on a multi-family vacation, let the kids switch cars for a while. Simply being in a different vehicle, with different people can be a great distraction. This gives adults time to switch up cars as well to change up the conversation as well as providing built in entertainment for the kids.
5. Healthy Snacks and Drinks
Food and drinks in gas stations and other road-side facilities can be break-the-bank pricey and are often not very healthy. Taking your own snacks and drinks means that you have something good to hand over if your little ones start to complain. Avoid anything, though, that has a strong smell and can cause queasiness or gassiness!
6. Have A First-Aid Kit
While traveling from destination to destination, it is always important to have a first aid kit ready. Basic supplies like band-aids, antibiotic ointment, sunscreen, anti-sickness medication and insect repellent are must haves. If your children are especially prone to travel sickness you may want to consider avoiding routes with curvy roads as this exacerbates it. Keep a sand bucket or empty plastic bags at the ready just in case of any in car sickness emergencies!
7. Plenty of Entertainment
Think up ways to keep the kids entertained while on the road; there’s only so long that they’ll be content to gaze out of the window! Plan travel games, songs and car activities to keep younger travelers entertained. A travel DVD player and / or iPad can be a life-saver, but there are also many ways to have fun without electronics. Be creative! Some of our favorites are ISpy, car bingo, audio books and fun road trip playlists. Don’t forget the headphones for when the kids are watching a movie – then you get to listen to what you want for a while, even if that is pure golden silence!
Road trips with kids can be loads of fun if you prepare before you set out. Enjoy exploring and creating many happy family memories while cruising on the open road.
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