How to Prepare for a Family Road Trip
If your family vacation involves a road trip, a little planning can help keep you organized and your kids occupied during the drive. Whether you’ll have a few hours in the car on the way to your cabin or you’re spending a few weeks touring several states, consider these tips for preparing for a family road trip.
Have a Plan, But Don’t Overplan
Long stretches in the car can be hard on everyone, so it’s important to plan stops along the way to your destination. Take a least a 10-minute break every two hours, says Travel and Leisure. Not only will this give everyone a chance to stretch and use the restroom, but the break can help keep the drivers alert.
It’s a good idea to make sure each leg of your trip is manageable and that you allow time for unplanned stops, says Travel and Leisure. Trip Savvy notes that one of the keys to an enjoyable family road trip is letting the kids get in plenty of activity along the way. A spontaneous stop for an attraction that interests the kids can be a great way to create memories together (and give everyone something to talk about during the next leg of the trip).
Create a “Car-Time” Schedule
Having a schedule or routine can help keep boredom at bay and may keep the kids from bickering, according to The Survival Mom. For example, you may want to tell the kids that it’s time to read for a half an hour, and then they can watch a movie and have a snack. This helps kids understand what to expect and it may help long days in the car seem shorter.
The Survival Mom also recommends setting a schedule for gadgets, who gets to pick the restaurant for dinner and all those other “big” decisions siblings may argue about. If they know they’ll each get their turn playing on the tablet, choosing a movie or sitting in their favorite spot, you may have a more peaceful ride together.
The Travel Channel also recommends scheduling “screen-free” time during the trip. Playing the “License Plate Game” or “I Spy” can be great ways to get everyone looking at the scenery and interacting as a family.
Have Plenty of Snacks
Road trips and snacks go hand-in-hand — especially when you’re traveling with kids. The Travel Channel recommends packing a variety of foods. Healthy options may include raisins or carrot sticks. And don’t forget some treats, like cookies or snack bars. Be sure you have drinks on hand, too. Reusable water bottles (remember to refill them during your rest stops) and juice boxes can be easy to manage in the car.
Remember to keep the food and drinks easily accessible, says the Travel Channel. You don’t want to make a stop every time someone gets thirsty. Even better — put the snacks where the kids can easily grab one themselves.
Keep Comfort in Mind
Bringing pillows and small blankets in the car can help keep everyone comfortable and encourage naps, says The Survival Mom. Pack a backpack for each child with a few toys from home, says Travel and Leisure. Not only can these items help keep the kids occupied, but having something familiar may also help kids feel more comfortable when away from home, says the Survival Mom.
With a little planning, some comforts from home and time for unexpected adventures, you can help your family have an enjoyable road trip this summer.
Originally published on March 22, 2012.