The great American Road Trip! The phrase brings up memories of my own childhood traveling to visit relatives, seeing historical sites with the grandparents, and of course watching family favorites like National Lampoons Vacation. Some trips are perfect and full of memories… others are let’s face it… a nightmare we prefer to never repeat again. If there were a formula for the ideal road trip what would it look like? I compiled a list of my own favorite tips, advice from parents I know, and some valuable web research to bring you these valuable tips for your next family road trip.
1. Drive at night… or don’t
This is something extremely individual to the child or children in your family. It also changes with age. Some kids do amazing on night trips and sleep the entire time. In our experience, our daughter would wake up every time we stopped at a gas station due to the giant spot lights. This would be followed by an hour of angry screaming until she fell back asleep. In which case it would be maybe another hour before my highly caffeinated husband would need to stop again for a restroom break or fill up… it was a nightmare which is why we switched to day trips.
There is plenty of disagreement and controversy on whether or not more technology is good for our kids. However road trips are in my opinion the exception to this rule. Helping the time pass is a key goal and gadgets help keep kiddos entertained for hours. Maybe not something you want them on the whole trip, but a great tool to engage them with for portions of the trip. Whether it’s an iPad, DVD player, or leapfrog game system, find something fresh to stimulate their minds and keep them entertained along the way.
With gadgets come noise and this can be both distracting and annoying for mom and dad over a long period of time. Grab some headphones so the kids can listen to their own technology and you don’t have to put up with competing noise from their gadgets and your road trip soundtrack.
4. Snack Attack
Plan ahead and pack some healthy snacks that won’t turn them into wild animals in the back seat. Focusing low sugar, higher nutritional value that still pack a satisfying crunch. In addition grab some travel friendly snack containers to keep snacks where they belong and not all over your floorboards or between the seats.
5. Travel Potties
Personally we never had to do this one (It kind of grosses me out), but I can totally see the value of having a travel potty for young potty trainers. If you get on a long stretch of highway and have no other choice you may need to take advantage. I like the one pictured because it has the disposable lining.
I prefer quality over quantity on this one. Instead of packing every toy in the play room focus on items that get the longest play or can be used over again. I let my kiddo pack one backpack full of goodies that I approve of. She likes books, things to color with, and some small toys. For the coloring we love the Crayola Color Wonder markers that will only color on the paper it comes with. Or try the Melissa and Doug Water Wow! Which uses water to turn the page colors then when it drys it disappears and you can do it again. Also road games like i-spy can go along way. Finally, just like with flying, having a few pre wrapped prizes along the way to pull out when kiddos are exceptionally bored, works as a great secret weapon for mom and dad to have up their sleeve (also a great motivator for good behavior).
7. Comfort is Key
Personally I can sleep almost anywhere, but some kids are much more finicky sleepers. Keep them in comfort and they might just sleep the majority of the trip away. Getting a comfy neck pillow, a favorite travel blank, and seat belt cushions will go a long way in helping them rest. You may also want to look into window shades for those riding on the sunny side of the car.
|A quick break in Chattanooga on our way to visit family
8. Have a Game Plan
In our 20s we might be content to hop in the car and get on the road. With kids, a little more strategic planning will go a long way. Using apps like RoadTrippers
will help you find some cool sights to see along the way. It also helps to identify which exits have the food you like and where the rest stops are. Get the kids out for a breather, and veteran parents agree having them run some laps to get out excess energy is a “must do”. I also find it key to start and purpose it in your heart to have a good attitude. A little grace goes a long way when you are all cramped in the car together all day!
9. Audio Books
Parents agree that audio books are a great way to entertain the whole family. A great series will keep the whole crew captivated and it’s something you participate in together which gives you something to talk about. I remember a 6 hour trip that went by like a 2 hour trip when I was listening to an audio book I loved.
10. Organize for Easy Access
Nothing is worse than digging for kiddos sippy cup in the middle of a long haul because it is buried in piles of stuff. Grab some organizers to make access to their favorite things easier for you and them. I love these back of the seat organizers and the between the seat ones for families with multiple kids.
Make your next road trip a breeze with some or all of these time tested tips. Do you have a travel tip you swear by? Share in the comment section and your tip may make it on the blog or one of my news segments.
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West