Ah, the family road trip. Kids in the back, arguing over who gets to choose the movie, mom in the front seat, climbing over the console to retrieve a lost toy, and dad driving, oblivious to it all.
In reality, road trips are a great way to travel. In most case it’s cheaper to drive than fly, you have more flexibility with packing, and can visit some cool places on your way to your destination. When preparing for your road trip, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead, not just for the actual vacation, but for the journey to get there. Here are a few tips to make your road trip successful.
All About Timing
When you get on the road can make or break the road trip experience. Think about your family and leave when you think it will work best. Maybe leave in the morning as soon as everyone wakes up? Leave at nap time so your kids will (hopefully) sleep for part of the trip? You could be night owls and want to leave at bedtime and drive through the night?
Map It Out
Navigation systems are so handy. Thanks technology! However, take a moment before your trip and map out rest stops, gas stations, and bathrooms beforehand. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of nowhere and your four year old shouts they have to go potty! Knowing beforehand will also help break up the trip and may alleviate the “are we there yet” from the backseat.
On a road trip, snacks are your best friend. Packing snacks lessens the need to stop for food and allows you to get to your destination faster. It also keep the kids (and you) happy!
When packing snacks, I always think about what will be easy to eat in the car, not too messy, and semi-healthy. I pack a soft cooler for refrigerated items and a bag for pantry snacks. Some of our favorite ‘cold’ items are cheese sticks, cut up fruit and yogurt tubes. Favorite pantry snacks include pouches, individual bags of crackers/cheese puffs/etc, and fruit snacks. I also pack each child a water bottle and a few juice boxes for a special treat. Don’t forget a trash bag for all the wrappers!
We have a container for everyday books and toys for daily car rides. For longer trips, though, I love to pack extra ‘surprises’ they can play with throughout the trip. I hit up the Dollar Section at Target, Dollar Tree, and even Hobby Lobby for small, easy to pack, but packed-with-fun items. Some of the favorites include Water Wow activity pads, reusable sticker pads, lacing cards, Road Trip Bingo boards, and even window clings (if you’re OK with cleaning the smudges off post-trip). I hand these out every hour or so and my kids love it!
I try and limit screen time when road tripping, but after a few hours, we have to break it out! Our four year old enjoys the TV in the minivan, and I enjoy the headphones he uses to listen to the movie. However, our two year old is still rear facing and can’t enjoy the screen yet. We tried having him watch from his mirror, but that made him frustrated. My friend introduced me to this car clip and it was a lifesaver on our five hour drive to the lake this summer! I just downloaded a few of his favorite Daniel Tiger episodes to a phone and clipped it in!
FYI: Netflix and Amazon have download options! This means you can download TV episodes and movies before you leave and watch them without eating up your data on the road!
A road trip is great way for your family to travel. With some preparation and smart ‘road trip’ packing, you can have a pleasant and some-what peaceful journey to your travel destination!
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