Road trips with the family are excellent ways to expose children to new cities, new cultures, and new landscape. However, traveling in a car with children can also be trying. To ensure your upcoming road trip with the kids is fun, you will need to be prepared for the unexpected. By being organized and with good planning, you and the kids will have a memorable vacation, not one that becomes a nightmare.
1. Departure – Although getting kids up early can be difficult, we strongly suggest you get an early start. In fact, you will find it easier if you start out before breakfast. Many times, the kids are still sleepy. Because of this, they will go back to sleep, allowing you to get some distance into the trip before stopping for breakfast.
2. Cooler – Packing a cooler of fruits, sandwiches, and beverages will not only help with the budget, but it will also allow your kids to eat when hungry. In addition, if you are trying to reach a certain point within the trip and do not want to stop driving, taking your own food will give you more freedom. The key is to keep the food cold for health reasons but also choose things the kids enjoy.
3. Activities – Make sure your children have games or toys that will keep them busy on the road trip, choosing whatever is age-appropriate. For instance, we recommend you include coloring books, music (with earphones), books, or games specially designed for road trips. If possible, allow each child to choose one new thing for the trip, helping to keep him or her occupied.
4. Movies – If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, great but if not, you can take a laptop computer that plays DVD’s. This way, while you drive, the children can enjoy a movie or two.
5. Rest Stops – The roads within the United States provide nice rest stops that have restroom facilities and picnic tables, in a safe, well-lit location. While traveling, your kids are going to become restless, needing to move around. Take advantage of the rest stops along your route, giving your kids a much-needed break. You will discover that allowing them to run free for 30 minutes helps keep the noise level in the car down to a dull roar. A good rule of thumb is to stop about every three hours. Even stopping for 15 minutes will make the trip far more enjoyable.
6. Games – In addition to the games the children play, incorporate car games into the trip. For instance, the “license plate game” is fun. With this, you would take turns spotting license plates and then make a word out of the first letter. For instance, if you were your turn and you saw a plate that started with T, you might choose the word tornado. To make the game more challenging for older children, choose a specific subject such as food, in which T could become a tomato.
7. Comfort – You will need to ensure the car space is comfortable. In most cases, road trips involve overcrowded cars with little space. Therefore, use fluffy pillows and blankets to make the space more comfortable, while providing a means for your child to take a nap.
8. Continental Breakfast or Discounts – Many hotels now offer a substantial continental breakfast, meaning everyone eats breakfast free. You will also find that hotels often offer discounts for children under a certain age. With this, you might find that any children under the age of 10 stays free. Therefore, it would be to your benefit to do some research ahead of time.
9. Overnight Stays – If your road trip involves one or two overnight stays in a hotel, instead of lugging all of the suitcases inside, you might consider packing a small overnight bag for each person in the car, consisting of a clothing change, toothbrush, and only the bare necessities.