There is nothing more fun than taking a road trip with the family. Seeing new places, watching your kids experience things you experienced as a kid, enjoying the break from school and work. All of these things make road trips enjoyable for families. But with all of these good feelings and fun memories, comes the hard truth…it’s hard traveling with kids!
Hopefully these 5 tips will make your traveling experience much more enjoyable.
1. Be Prepared
This sounds simple enough, right?! The worst feeling in the world when traveling with kids is realizing you don’t have something you need, when you need it. You’re kid is screaming for their sippy cup, but you remember that the cup is still sitting on the drying rack in the kitchen or sitting on the table. One simple thing you can do is pack each kid a small bag to take in the car. This bag needs to be small enough that it doesn’t take up a lot of room in the cabin of the car, and most of the time will usually fit easily under their feet in the floor board. You can decide what the needed contents of this bag should be, but here are a few suggestions. Bring some snacks, like granola bars, trail mix, or other age appropriate non-perishable items. This will hold them over until the next meal time. A no-leak sippy cup or travel cup with water, so they will have something to keep them hydrated. Try staying away from sugary beverages, as this typically increases thirst. You should also pack some fun interactive things for kids to do if they get bored with site seeing or eye-spy. Try packing small books, crayons and a coloring book, and other small items that you know can keep your kids entertained.
2. Plan Your Stops
Sometimes emergency bathroom breaks or other stops are necessary. However, if you can plan your stops ahead of time, you will cut down on a lot of the stopping and going, and the in-and-out-of-car-seat screaming, that most families experience while traveling. First, everyone should go the the bathroom before leaving and depending on the distance, plan to stop every couple of hours for bathroom breaks. Know how far you’re going and where good stopping points will be along the way. Try planning the trip around meal times, so that when you’ve been driving for 4 hours, you can stop somewhere and have lunch or dinner, fill up the sippy cup, and then get back on the road. This also will help with naps, because most kids are usually tired after eating!
3. Teach Something
A lot of times, parents can be inundated with questions from kids while traveling. What’s that? Why? Where are we going? All of these questions are valid, depending on frequency. Children are genuinely interested in learning. So there’s no better opportunity for them to do that than when they’re going new places, seeing new things and building up experiences and memories for themselves. Take the time to teach them about rivers that you’re driving over, or landmarks that you’re familiar with. All of these things, no matter how insignificant they seem, will help your child learn something and appreciate the trip even more.
4. Keep Up the Anticipation
One question parents hate to get while on road trip is “Are we there yet?” This is the absolute worst question, because it’s always dripping with boredom and expected disappointment. One way to help keep this question at bay is to engage your children with your own line of questioning. Ask them, “What are you most excited about doing?” “What is the first thing you want to do when you get there?” “How many people do you think are there?” Also, depending on where you’re going, you may have some more specific questions. For instance, if you’re going to the beach, you can ask “Do you think the water is cold or warm?” “Are you going to collect any shells?” Keeping the anticipation up will make the trip seem shorter for them and will help you keep some hair on your head.
5. Don’t Lose Your Cool
The worst thing that could happen for a family trip is that the trip is ruined before the destination is reached. Staying calm as a parent is hard enough, but throw in a confined space and other commuters and the stress level increases drastically. Just remember that, you’re the captain, so to speak, and everyone is looking to you to set the moral of the ship (even though you’re in a car). If you lose your cool, you’re more than likely going to have crying, angered partners, and an even more stressful situation than before. If you feel yourself about to boil over, try taking deep breaths, ask for a quite time for everyone, or if it’s bad enough, just make an emergency stop to step out and get some fresh air. Remember, you’re trying to make memories as a family and you want those memories to be positive.