Are you planning a family road trip? As a kid, I LOVED road trips. Being on the open road, enjoying the change of scenery, seeing new places, and meeting new people excited me. But as a parent, family road trips can quickly become a nightmare if you don’t plan. But it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience.
Here are some tips to make family road trips less stressful and more fun.
1. Establish Expectations
As my children have gotten older, I’ve found it helpful to share trip logistics with them and then to lay out what our expectations are of them during the road trip. Establishing road trip car rules have really help to keep a bit of order on long family road trips.
2. Use Technology
Technology is a gift… use it. Both of my children have hand-held devices. I do not hesitate to use them for a bit of entertainment.
3. Download a New Movie
Use the tech we discussed in number one to download a new movie before hitting the road. A new film should occupy your children for a couple of hours. My son loves superhero movies. He can watch the same video a bazillion times. But nothing captures his attention like a brand spanking new movie.
4. Pack Plenty of Snacks and Water
Bring snacks that you know your kids love and will eat. I like to pack dry snacks since they are easier to clean up. I also pack the snacks in individual baggies for each child. The individual packages help to cut down on disputes. Sharing could lead to a backseat battle which is easiest to avoid, if you can.
5. Allow Each Child to Pack their own fun bag
Give your kids a bit of autonomy by allowing them to pack their own fun bag. We usually their school backpacks. Each child is allowed to select the toys or games they’d like to use on the road.
6. Bring a surprise bag
Have pre-made surprise bags made before the trip. I generally will go to the Dollar store and stack up on a few new toys for the kids. I store them in brown paper bags and hand them out when they get tired of watching movies, and playing with the toys they packed in their activity bag.
7. Make Stops Fun
Pre-plan your stops. Look for a playground on your route and plan to stop to let the kiddos play. You can enjoy a snack or lunch while the kids run off their energy. Having a little break from the confines of the vehicle is great for everyone.
8. Be prepared for spills
Pack wipes, napkins and a full-sized bath towel, just in case there’s a small or mega spill. We’ve experienced all kids of accidents on the road especially since our youngest get motion sickness. I’ll spare you the details but we’ve had to use a full towel on a few occasions.
9. Invite a Relative
Ask a family member to tag along, if you think you need some help. I always prefer to travel with my momma. The kids love spending time with her, and she makes travel with little people a cinch.
10. Take turns sitting with the kids
If a relative can’t ride along, take turns sitting in the back with the kids. Having an adult in the back makes handing out snacks, and refereeing disagreements easier.
11. Be Prepared for Potty Training Mishaps
If you’re traveling with younger children, be prepared for potty training mishaps. Be sure to pack a full change of clothes, to include a spare pair of underwear. If your children are potty training or just finished potty training, it would be a good idea to have some pull-ups in the vehicle too.
12. Pack a bag for trash
A cluttered car could make a cramped space even smaller. To avoid the backseat chaos, bring a few used grocery bags to collect trash. Dump the trash at each stop which will cut down on clutter and discomfort during the ride.
13. Relax and Enjoy
Don’t read up on road trip horror stories before your big trip like some people. I am some people. Seriously, relax and enjoy the adventure. Try to remember that your kids will get bored and it’s okay. In fact, in my opinion, boredom is good for kids. It builds character.
Planning a family road trip can be exciting, Even with their meltdowns and a bazillion potty breaks, family road trips can be so much fun. Use some or all of these simple tips to help make your family road trip less stressful and way more enjoyable.
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