Most families take their vacations come summer time. The weather is typically great for travel, people are in better moods, the scenery tends to be more beautiful (depending on the activity)... There are multiple reasons why families get away in the summer, however, their point of destination varies.
I think most parents understand how much effort it is to fly with young ones. If this is their first flight, they might be scared, not understand the air pressure difference, want to run around — there's an array of reasons why flying with kids can be tough (and let's not forget how expensive those flights can be). This is why road trip getaways are quite popular with young families. When families get to drive, they're in control of everything (they also don't have to fear what other people think of their screaming child). That being said, there are even more reasons that make road trips so special for kids, and that relies on the parents to make it as comfortable, fun, and entertaining as possible. After all, if the kids are happy, mom and dad will be happy, too. From bringing a cooler for snacks to having iPads readily available — these are 20 road trip survival tips for families!
20 Each Child Gets A Backpack
Depending on the age, many kids tend to be a little more territorial with what's theirs. If you're traveling with more than one toddler, they may not be the best at sharing yet. Since this is most likely the case, give each kid a small box or backpack and let them fill it up with "their" stuff that they would like on the trip. This bag would be 100% theirs and they can keep whatever they want in it (crayons, snacks, books, toys, etc...).
19 Download Some Gaming Apps
I know there are a lot of parents out there who are not a fan of the "digital" upbringing. There are far too many kids these days who are so entranced by their screens, they no longer know how to socialize in real life. But when it comes to road trips (especially long ones), these apps just might save your life. From educational games to more light-hearted games, these apps will keep your kid distracted and most likely entertained.
18 Watch A Movie
Most larger SUVs or minivans come with those descending TVs, but in case yours doesn't, grab that iPad or phone, put it in a plastic baggie, and hang that baby behind your chair head. This way, your child (or children) will have their own makeshift TV where they can watch their shows or movies. Plus, this is also a great hack if you want a TV or screen in your car but don't have the cash to do it! It's a win-win.
17 Books On Tape
Oh, did you think books on tape were a thing of the past? Well, you're sadly mistaken. Books on tape are as popular as ever and can truly keep you engaged on those long rides. They even have books on tape for kids with noise effects, songs, and entertaining voice-overs to keep them guessing. Books are great and all, but some people get car sick when it comes to reading while driving — so a book on tape is a great option.
16 Classic Car Games For The Whole Car
There are so many classic car games that are actually fun for all ages. From playing "I Spy" to finding as many different license plates as you can — making up car games for the whole family is a great way to get everyone involved. If you're not a fan of all the kids having their earphones in, ignoring on another, take a little break and play some visual games to stay stimulated. Plus, this is something the parents can get into, too.
15 Pen & Paper
Just like classic car games, we cannot forget about the classic pen and paper. Kids love to express their creativity through art. It's a way to story tell, reimagine, and take the mind elsewhere outside that car. Have a small pouch filled with crayons, markers, and washable-markers for your child to whip out and color with. Coloring books are also much more space-friendly than a folder filled withed of colored papers floating around. There are also a variety of companies that make small trays for kids to color effectively.
14 Snacks, Snacks, Snacks
You know how practically every dietician says "don't snack out of boredom"? Well, that rule goes out the window when you're on a long road trip. When you're cramped in a car, eating a few crackers or pretzels just kind of seems right. It's something to do, it's tasty, and it's satisfying. However, instead of having huge, family-sized bags of snacks roaming all over the car, making a sweet compartment (like the one above) for all your snacking needs.
This is also a fun way to get kids to eat.
13 Pack Smart
Depending on how many people are in your car and what kind of car you're driving, your car can fill up fast. Besides the number of people, we have all their luggage and personal goods. To make the car flow a little more organized, have a compartment for everything; know where things are during the ride so you don't have to pull over the car and dig through everyone's things. The car's snacks, beverages. activities, and first-aid kit should be in reaching distance of everyone.
12 Make It Cozy
Whenever we took a three hour ride to see my dad's family, my mom always decked out the car to make it as comfortable as possible. She would lay sheets all over the back seats, add our pillows, and one or two of our favorite stuff animals to make us feel right at home. While the ride was only three hours away, I can see this tip coming in handy for longer rides. No one wants a sleepy kid to not sleep because they're uncomfortable.
11 Prevent Car Sickness Before It Happens
If this is the family's first road trip, you're gonna find out rather quickly who gets car sickness and who doesn't. Even if a member of the family doesn't typically get cat sickness, it's better to be prepared for the worst. Have a little trash pail or some plastic bags handy in case someone feels the urge the puke. And don't forget to have some medication in the first-aid kit in case this happens. Preparing for a road trip with kids is all about happiness and survival.
10 Bring Travel Mugs
Families can get pretty messy — especially when confined to a small car. When boredom eating comes into play, wrappers get thrown everywhere, crumbs are dropping — it's important to be ready for it all. Bring along some reusable cups with lids (that way nothing can spill), bring glass straws to be eco-friendly, bring plenty of napkins for unforeseen incidents, and bring Wetnaps, since we know all kids hands are randomly sticky.
I think the biggest lesson here is to bring lids for cups. There's nothing worse than a spill in the car and a wet child.
9 First-Aid Kit
Now, when I say first-aid kit, I don't mean you need to run to Target and buy the white box that's in the athletic department. What I mean is every family can create their own. Bring cough drops, allergy pills, Advil, motion sickness medication — anything that anyone in your family could possibly need should be in that box. Trust me, in these situations, it's better to be prepared than under-prepared. No one needs a child who is puking from motion sickness and another one is having an allergy attack with zero relief.
8 Make An Itinerary
No matter how hard some parents try, there are some kids who are just not into movies, books on tape, or those classic car games. Some kids are more curious and need to know where they're going and what they'll be doing there. So why not make this an educational moment? Bring some maps and pictures of where you're going. So your kids what you'll be doing and what each spot means. Get them excited for your destination! It is vacation, after all!
7 Bring A Cooler
Coolers are so underrated, if you ask me. I know there are a ton of families who don't wanna bring a cooler because they take up too much room and can be bulky, but there are plenty of coolers that come in all shapes and sizes these days. When it comes to what to put in the cooler, pack some fruits, veggies, juices, and water to stay refreshed! Freeze your waters and juices the night before so that when you're ready for a few — they're still ice cold.
6 Stop Often
There are a lot of drivers out there who dislike stopping for any reason. They wanna get to where they're going as soon as possible! And as much as I agree with that mindset, I also know how hard it is for kids to sit still that long. Drive for as long as you can until those kids get antsy, then take a few stops to go to the restroom, stretch, and regroup. If you're really prepared, then you've already pinpointed where you're gonna stop en route.
5 Roadside Picnic
After a while, you need fresh air. There's only so much that stale car air is gonna do for you. Pick a stop along the way for a little DIY picnic! Put some sandwiches in that cooler, bring a blanket, and have a little picnic outside before hitting the road again. Breathe in the fresh air, soak in the sunshine, and that will give the entire car enough strength to get through the next few hours in a car. When in doubt — stop and stretch it out. Let your kids run around and tucker themselves out.
4 Learn Something New!
Our kids are curious and are constantly learning new things everyday. Use this road trip as an experience to learn new things. Heck, the adults in the car will probably learn new things too! Print out facts for the kids and let them read them aloud. Allow them to look at a map and see where they're driving, what cities they're passing, and what they're about to see when they reach their destination. Is there anything more exciting than a car filled with people excited to see their last stop?!
3 Keep Yourself (And The Car) Organized
Whenever we took a road trip, my mom always had a majority of our things in reach. However, there were a few things we would cry about wanting, but they would be in the trunk of the car, meaning we weren't able to have them until we stopped. That's why it's so important to see beyond your kids — think about what they'll want mid-ride. There are so many gadgets, pouches, and holders these days that keep everything in open viewing. Whenever your kid needs something, they don't need to constantly ask you for it or dig around in the back — everything will be right there in open reach
I know we live in the tech world and sometimes we want our kids to take a break from it all, but if they can play a game or watch a movie with headphones in peace and quiet, in their own space, it will make all the difference. Your car ride might be quiet for a little bit, but you can take this time to have a grownup conversation with your partner or at least focus on where you're going, feeling good that you have a happy and content car.
1 Stay Calm, Positive, And Happy
If you're traveling with family members or a spouse — be sure to leave the small arguments at home. Nothing is more uncomfortable on a road trip when the parents are arguing. Kids know when their parents are fighting or are feeling negative about something. And when that happens, then everyone is mad, awkward, or quiet. Keep the negativity at home and make the trip exciting and positive. Be role models and teammates when sticking out these long drives and make it a positive experience for all.