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How to Plan a Family Road Trip With Kids (A Lot of Fun!!)

Summer is the perfect time to take your family on a little vacation. While you might have dreams of going somewhere foreign and exotic, many families find that it’s simply easier to load up the car and take the kids on a summer road trip rather than flying to some far-off destination.

However, road trips can come with their own set of issues. So to help ensure that you and your little ones have a great time on the road, here are some tips for planning the perfect family road trip.

It’s been chronicled by Jack Kerouac and talked about often in every college dorm throughout the nation. Road trips are adventures on the highways. How you plan your trip, however, determines whether you have an unforgettable or mostly miserable time. Here’s how to do it right, so there are no road bumps along the way. 11 things to do to improve your next family road trip while planning it. Check out this article to learn all about perfect road trip details.

Table of Contents

Related Read: A Few Quick Notes To Help Create a Pre Road Trip Checklist

A couple witha kid looking outside from a car window

11 Tips For Planning The Perfect Family Road Trip

Pick The Right Destination

Part of the fun of road trips is the excitement and anticipation of getting to your final destination. When you have kids, your family’s ideal destination is likely different from where you might find yourself wanting to go. But with the right planning, you can find a road trip destination that everyone will love.

To help you find the perfect destination for your family, Jessica Leigh Mattern, a contributor to Country Living, recommends a long list of places that are great to visit for the entire family. With destinations all over the continental US, you’re bound to find a place that your kids will enjoy without having to spend multiple days in the car just to get there.

Be Smart When Packing

Packing up your entire family for a road trip can be a tough task. Depending on the size of your car and the size of your family, things might get pretty tight.

To help with this, Cheryl Rodewig, a contributor to Fodors.com, recommends packing your car from the bottom up. Try to keep the heavy items that you won’t need much access to while on the road at the bottom. Not only will this make it easier for you to stay organized up top, but it will also be safer in the event that you get in a car accident along the way.

Plan For Fun Stops Along The Way

While your final destination might be the highlight of your trip, you’ve still got to take some pit stops along the way.

With kids, you’re going to want your stops to be more than just a quick break to get gas and hit the bathroom. Being stuck in the car for hours can be very hard on kids. Because of this, it’s important that you plan for some fun stops along the way. Also, you should plan some games that are suitable for kids and long road trips!

According to KidsUnplugged.org, you should do some research about your route before you take off. Try to find fun places along your way where you can stop and let the kids play and run around for a bit. Even if it’s just a park that’s right off your route, this can help them get some energy out and be ready for the next few hours when they’ll be stuck in the car again.

Access the Helpful Apps

As you know, “There’s an app for that.” Traveling is no exception, there are a TON of travel apps, especially for those taking a road tour. Apps like Roadtrippers and OntheWay help navigate well-traveled or desolate paths. OntheWay points out gas stations, cheap lodging, and places to eat. It’s also handy for those unfamiliar with an area yet interested in checking out local museums, tourist attractions, etc.

Don’t Blow the Budget

Unless you have a treasure chest, you’re using hard-earned funds to fuel your road trips, so you need to configure out what you are willing to spend. Do your best to budget before you put the key in the ignition. Take note of upcoming road-related events and costs. Each day, check that you’re aligned with initial estimations. Otherwise, you may have to make too many detours or cut your adventure short. Use a free tool like Google Drive to make a spreadsheet of events and related costs. Access the sheet on the road from your smartphone or mobile device.

A car driving on a highway during sunset

Pack Food in the Trunk

Imagine the road trip as an extended tailgating ritual. Before football games, you see fans planted beside cars with hibachis, beverages, and an assortment of foods. Packing food is a lot cheaper than buying inside the stadium. It’s similar for road warriors; the more food you pack, the less you have to take out of your pocket. Food is a necessity, and you don’t want to eat less to save money. That will make you irritable and less likely to enjoy time on the road. Alternatively, invest in a quality cooler and pack it with plenty of perishable and nonperishable foods and beverages.

Prepare Your Engine

Your vehicle is your golden ticket to adventures on the road. Your trip goes as far as your car takes you, so be sure it has fresh oil, updated brakes, and working mechanical and electrical systems before taking off. Bring your vehicle in for a check-up about one week before going on the road. Provide the mechanic with the logistics of your journey – where you’re going, how long, and daily driving distance. Of course, your choice in a vehicle matters. You could experience the road in safety and style behind the wheel of a Peugeot 2008 or another vehicle of your preferred choice.

Keep the Kids Occupied

Kids are adorable, but they can get rambunctious in confined spaces, especially when needed to sit still for long periods of time. Modern devices, such as iPads, keep kids occupied, but they are only useful when they are charged. Buy extra chargers in case one break or gets misplaced. If music is their thing, consider getting the kids a month’s subscription to Spotify or another music streaming service. The last thing you want to hear is, “Are we there yet?” so fill their senses with multimedia options.

Don’t Drive When Drowsy

Driving when drowsy is a major mistake that some unfortunate parties make. If you plan ahead and create a day-to-day itinerary, leaving some cushion time, there should be no reason to push ahead when feeling drowsy. Use an app to find a safe place to pull over, energize, and get back on the road once rested. Schedule stops along the way to stretch, refresh, and double-check directions.

Find All-Inclusive Deals

Some hotels offer free breakfast, dry cleaning, and other luxuries. Particular bed and breakfast inns provide rides downtown and to nearby airports. Find all-inclusive deals whenever you can. That means scouting for immediate deals on your phone and planning ahead as suggested via an itinerary. Get road trip ideas online or chart a course based on main destinations.

Use Friends and Family

What are friends and family for if not to help when you’re in need? Chart destinations with locales of friends and family members in mind. You might be able to stay in their home or apartment or get suggestions related to cheapest rates and tastiest eats in town. Pick friends who live in preferred destinations and see if they would be willing to swap homes with you for a limited time. It’s a creative way to save money on accommodations aside from camping out, leveraging AirBnb, etc.

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