Summer is approaching. This means warm weather, sunshine, vacations to tropical destinations (or Disney World), and long road trips to get there with the kids. Do you ever feel like your vacation is the reward and the road trip itself is all of the obstacles you have to power through in order to achieve it? Whether you’re spending four hours or fourteen in the car, doing it with kids can be quite the feat. It’s best not to look at road tripping as a brick wall between you and a white, sandy beach somewhere, but rather to see it as an awesome activity for the whole family! Here are a few family road trip hacks to help keep you from pulling your hair out and to have as stress-free and fun a car ride as possible!
Pack light! The less lugging around you all have to do, the better. Consolidation is key. If you’ve got a few kids (or more) it can be really beneficial to pack one big duffle with everyone’s clothes. You can separate each person’s into plastic bags within the duffel for easy access. For the sake of the car ride, you might want to have a separate bag entirely for everyone’s sweatshirts or jackets. This way, if you’re making a pit stop at night and it’s a little chilly, you’ll easily be able to grab hoodies all at once instead of having to rummage through an entire bag.
It’s also a good idea to have a bag for the front of the car with books, journals, wet wipes, iPads/iPods and other car games. You can also bring small pillows and light blankets for sleeping – more comfort = less complaints.
It’s crucial to bring easy, no-mess snacks for the ride. Be careful of sugar! This is not the time for the kids to be on a sugar-high, so try packing something simple like baby carrots and ranch, celery with peanut butter, pretzels, and grapes.
Only allow water in the car. Again, other drinks might be really sugary, which is important to avoid when stuck in a car for an extended period of time. You also never know when something might spill, so ruling out any drinks besides water is your safest bet!
Keep Them Entertained
Bring along a few chapter books and have everyone (or the bigger kids) take turns reading a chapter. Audio books are also really good ways to keep everyone entertained. Sometimes reading or listening to stories can even help the kids drift off for a little while, which is really nice if you’ve left in the early morning or are driving late at night.
I Spy is always a great car game for the whole family. Try bringing along some simple craft supplies like thread to make friendship bracelets. Check out a cool tutorial here! Have the kids practice a little bit before the road trip so that they know what they’re doing, and so that you can pre-prepare the thread so you won’t have to bring scissors in the car.
If you’ve got smaller kids, it can also be a good idea to jump in the backseat with them occasionally. You can read to them or go through some picture books together. Play patty-cake or rock, paper, scissors to get them moving a little bit.
Let smart phones, iPads or DVDs be the last resort. It can be fun for them to play games electronically every once and awhile, but a road trip is a great opportunity for interaction and checking out new scenery!
Take Breaks Often
Last but not least, go ahead and allot for a little extra travel time. Taking breaks are not only great for letting the kids run around for a bit at a rest stop, but this also allows you some time to read or relax uninterrupted while watching from the car. Plus, letting them get out and exercise for ten or fifteen minutes means they’ll be a little more relaxed in the car for the next leg of the journey.
With so much going on in the car, it’s enough to have to think about keeping the kids happy and entertained. Make sure there’s even more attention focused on the road. According to Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, one of the most common causes for accidents is distracted driving. Don’t try to take on too much. If your spouse is in the car or you’ve got an older kid, you can put in charge – let them entertain for a while! Follow these tips & tricks and you will be sure to have an amazing journey to your vacation destination!
About the Author:
Amy Patterson is an avid reader on trending topics and a freelance writer in her spare time. As a mother, she loves to write pieces on family and parenting, but also writes about health and fitness as well.