Road trips are extremely common in the United States with 90 percent of American families using a personal or a hired vehicle for vacationing or sightseeing. Though preparing for a road trip with kids seems like a daunting task, a little smart planning can help you make the journey enjoyable and unforgettable.
Regardless of whether you are traveling with your kids to a nearby location or taking a flight to a far-off destination, road trips are an inevitable part of the journey.
Here are six tips that will arm you with the most effective and practical ideas, enabling you to plan the most exciting trip with your family.
Carrying too many things can miserably clutter your vehicle, making your kids and other family members feel uncomfortable on a long-distance road journey.
Keep a small bag with all essentials handy, enabling you to gain quick access to an extra change of kids’ clothes, diapers, baby blankets, pillows, napkins, and other travel basics.
Consequently, you will not have to break the journey and open up your suitcase every time you require something.
2. Keep Safety and Comfort in Mind
Make sure your car is in a perfect working condition. You do not want to be stranded on a highway, having to deal with a car breakdown while your kids whine about the hot weather. Hire a professional car service provider and get everything from the windshield wipers to the tires checked thoroughly.
Download safety applications such as EmergenSee or AAA Safety, enabling you to contact public safety officers in an emergency.
Car and booster seats offer protection to infants and kids, however, failure to install them properly can prove to be fatal in case of accidents. The NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) car seat finder tool helps you select the most appropriate car seat for your kids based on their age, height, and weight. If you already have a car and booster seats, involve an expert to get them installed properly.
Toddlers often tend to feel queasy when traveling, increasing the chances of spit ups. They may also spill or drop liquids, causing a lot of mess inside the car. Keep paper rolls, wipes, vomit and garbage bags, and car fresheners handy for managing such accidents.
Put together a first-aid kit comprising of Band-Aids, antiseptic creams, Tylenol, and thermometer. Keep this kit handy, enabling you to deal with injuries and illnesses that are extremely common when traveling. Talk to your pediatrician and carry the recommended medications for common illnesses such as cold, flu, fever, digestive disorders, and motion sickness.
3. Choose an Interesting Travel Route
Research on the best route to your destination and choose the one with a variety of interesting tourist attractions. At times, the simplest site can add thrill and fascination to the trip. Select a route with numerous parks, bird sanctuaries, animal farms, grassy lawn areas, beaches, rivers, amusement parks, and historical locations where you can stop so your kids can let off some steam.
Pick a few kid-friendly geography books or road trip atlases that share interesting facts about the places along the route. For instance, the National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas covers every American state and educates and engages kids by sharing exciting facts about the roadside attractions.
Kids tend to get cranky and irritable if they haven’t rested enough. If you are on the road for over eight hours, plan where you will stop for resting or overnight stays until you reach your final destination.
Use a few useful mobile applications to choose the best route to avoid traffic jams. Look for restaurants, gas stations, and tourist spots on the way using apps such as Waze, iExit, and GasBuddy.
4. Manage the Hunger Pangs
Pack a colorful and healthy assortment of snacks, namely whole fruits, berries, dry fruits, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, crackers, granola bars, cereals, and cookies. Don’t forget to keep your kids hydrated during the trip. Carry water bottles, fruit juice packs, and other beverages that replenish the electrolytes in the body and provide energy.
Encourage toddlers and younger kids to use their sippers and water bottles to avoid accidental spills. Use straws for thicker liquids, namely yogurts and applesauce. Storing all the above-mentioned snacks in neatly-labeled Ziploc bags will help you organize the eatables in an easy way.
Avoid packing food items that are high in sugar or fat as it may trigger motion sickness. Make sure kids can easily access the snacks and drinks to avoid stopping every time they are hungry. Keep wet-wipes, bibs, and napkins handy to clean up spills if any.
5. Keep Plenty of In-Car Entertainment Options
Carry several gadgets such as tablets, e-readers, smartphones, and/or iPods that are loaded with movies, games, videos, e-books, and songs, enabling your little co-travelers to keep themselves occupied and entertained.
Make sure you carry a portable charger to prevent the devices from running out of power. If you are investing in a new charger, check the packaging to see if it can power up the gadgets you are planning to carry along for the trip.
Giving your kids their own cameras is also a great way to keep them occupied. The pictures they take can be documented in a vacation scrapbook, inspiring them to get involved and enjoy the road trip. Give them some time off the screen by carrying a few travel games and puzzles, namely License Plate Game, I Spy, BrainQuest, or Rubik’s 360.
Keep toddlers engaged with simple activities such as coloring books and hand puppets or by giving them their favorite toys or books.
6. Remember to Take It Easy
Learn to accept that your travel pace with kids will be slower than normal owing to their diverse requirements. Plan a relaxing trip and be open to changes and delays.
When traveling on the road with kids, make their comfort and safety a top priority. Avoid stressing too much about reaching your destination in time. Plan frequent short and long stops on the way, enabling you to feed them, change their diapers, give them some time off the road, and stretch your muscles.
Going on a road trip with kids may not seem to be fun, however, some smart planning can help you embark upon the most memorable journey of your life, enabling you to spend quality time with your family. Use the above-mentioned tips to keep your kids safe, healthy, and entertained when you go on a road trip with them.