If you’re thinking of taking a long family road trip, you’ll have to plan much more than the route you’re going to take – a car full of children also requires a full itinerary of entertainment to keep the journey as stress-free as possible.
Road trips are the epitome of the summer experience. For many families, vacations are not quite what they were before children. After having kids, you may need to spend your summers traveling to local destinations, often by car. After you get your car in tip-top shape, you may be wondering what else you need to create an ideal road trip experience. Because kids cannot sit in a simple conversation for hours on end, here are a few tips for keeping them entertained and creating the perfect family road trip experience. Four easy ways to make your next family road trip a much better experience for everyone in your family. Learn all about a family road trip.
Family road trips are super underrated, many people say that it is hard to stay crammed in a car with your family members, but if you do everything right and plan the trip carefully, you can actually have an amazing time and strengthen your bond with your family. In this post, we have created a to-do list that you should follow for a guaranteed fun time and bonding with your family on a long, fun, and adventurous road trip:
So here are some top tips to consider if you hitting the road with the kids in tow…
Table of Contents
11 Tips for a Family Road Trip
- Plan the Trip Carefully
- Choosing the Right Vehicle
- Make Sure the Car is in Perfect Condition
- Getting Your Car Travel-Ready and Prepare for the Worse
- In-Car Entertainment
- Food and drink
- Planning Driving Schedules
- Final destination
- Plan Some Fun Stops Along the Way
- Patience for a family road trip
- Respect Each Other’s Privacy and Boundaries
11 Tips for a Family Road Trip
Plan the Trip Carefully
Planning is a very important part of having an amazing road trip. When you are traveling with some adventurous friends, going with the flow is an option, but if you have your family with you on a road trip, you should definitely take some time to hash out the details of the trip among the family. It is important that the kids are also a part of these discussions so that they feel included in the decision-making. You should add some destinations that the kids want to visit on the trip as well.
Choosing the Right Vehicle
Space should be just one of many considerations when it comes to renting or purchasing a vehicle for a road trip. Safety should be first and foremost when making your choice. Ask your car dealer or renter to show you vehicles with the latest safety features such as automatic braking (to prevent a collision with the car in front of you), blind spot warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and airbags. Safety belt features are also very important; some vehicles have inflatable belts in the rear set to reduce the force of the belts on passengers in the event of an accident.
Make Sure the Car is in Perfect Condition
This step is important for every road trip. Your car should be maintained all the time, but when you are about to leave on a long cross-country road trip, it is wise to take the car to the mechanic for a detailed checkup. It will make sure that your car stays running smoothly and doesn’t cause any problems during the trip. If your tires are old, consider changing them now.
And, remember to wash and wax your car before you leave and along the way to keep the exterior safe. You can carry an orbital polisher in the car to properly wax up the car. Washing and waxing the car is important because the dirt and dust in the air can damage the paint of the car on a long trip.
Getting Your Car Travel-Ready and Prepare for the Worse
If you will be taking your existing vehicle on the road trip, ensuring it is well prepared is vital. Check for aspects such as tire pressure, lights, wiper blades, oil and coolant levels, brakes, belts, and more. You should also be prepared for what you would do if you were involved in an accident. Steps range from assembling a good first aid kit to listing down the name of an accident lawyer who specializes in personal injury.
A good, recommended lawyer should be readily available and should be able to effectively and clearly explain the nature of accidents and personal injury cases to you. This will come in handy for other types of accidents you may encounter along the way as well – including general personal injuries and slip and fall accidents that may occur when you are visiting sites in your chosen destination.
Keeping your kids occupied is the second step to happy road trip memories. Good entertainment options for the car should take up a small amount of room, but provide hours of entertainment. For this reason, large plastic toys are not the ideal choice for a road trip. Instead, utilize old-school items like drawing pads and pencils, puzzle books, or coloring books.
The chances are you’ll hear the first cry of “Are we nearly there yet?” within 20 minutes of leaving the house, so you’ll need to curb the kids’ natural impatience – the best way to do this is to keep them entertained in as many ways as possible, so try any mixture of the following…
Audiobooks and music
stock up on some of your clan’s favorite music and throw in a few family-friendly audio books to relieve the boredom of some of those long stretches of motorway. It’ll also help to keep your mind alert while you’re at the wheel.
Books and DVDS
if you think the drive is long and arduous, the kids will be feeling the boredom even more in the back, so make sure you pack a selection of their favorite books and comics to keep them entertained. If you can get a portable DVD player – the ones that fit onto the back of the head rests of the front seats are ideal – you can pack their favorite films and you won’t even know they’re there.
if you’ve exhausted all the other options, or you can’t bear to hear the songs from Frozen one more time, then it could be time to kick off a good, old-fashioned car game. Eye-spy is an old-classic but quickly gets boring, so try something like Yellow Car – where the aim is to spot the most yellow cars on the road – or Through the Glovebox – the idea here is to pick another motorist and make up a narrative about them; this is a good game for when you’re stuck in a traffic jam.
It’s also a good idea to make each child a backpack for the journey, containing coloring books, travel games and portable consoles or tablets if they have one. And make sure they have all the apps and games they need – and don’t forget to pack the chargers!
Food and drink
It’s one thing keeping boredom at bay, but you also need to fight off the hunger pangs. If you’re driving for family road trips through some little towns and villages it’s always a good idea to stop off for sustenance, but while motorway services are handy, they’re also expensive and often unhealthy.
So pack enough food and drink for at least the first leg of the journey, with sandwiches, fruit, sweets and any other snacks that will keep the car happy. And make sure the kids can get to the snacks as and when they need them to save them asking you all the time.
The first step to keeping your kids happy in the car is in not letting them get hungry. If you have ever heard of “hungry” you know just how cranky those hungry little ones can be. Not only is it important that you pack snacks, but the kind of snacks you bring is also important. Getting your kids revved up on sugar just sets you up for a sugar crash meltdown while you are still trapped in the car.
For snacks that satiate without too much sugar, go for the more natural options. Try bringing string cheese, yogurt, granola bars and trail mix. Fresh fruit and veggies are also easy to eat and pack in the car, and should be utilized if possible. Keeping a small day cooler in the backseat will ensure your kids have plenty to eat and you can refill it at grocery stores along the way.
Planning Driving Schedules
If you will be traveling with other drivers, ensure you take turns so that each driver has the chance to have a break and disconnect. Ensure you are alert when you take the wheel; drivers need to continually scan the road for potential dangers as well as be vigilant for sudden obstacles that may arise on the road – including animals and pedestrians. If you are feeling tired, consider taking a small break or staying overnight. You should have a list of good hotels you will encounter as you drive through various cities or towns. The Road Trip Expert recommends that nobody should drive for over nine hours a day and that drivers should take a break of at least 45 minutes for every 4.5 hours driven.
Another good way to keep everyone engaged is to learn a bit about the places you’re visiting and talk about what you’re going to do there before you arrive – this will make sure everyone is excited to get to the final destination of your family road trips. For some destination inspiration, these European places could be a great starting point.
And if there are any landmarks along the way, make sure you stop off at them to break up the journey.
Plan Some Fun Stops Along the Way
You shouldn’t only stick to the highways until you reach your destination, you should also visit some small attractions along the way. This will keep the whole family excited for the next location, and you won’t get bored. You should also consider getting some amazing local food from the areas you pass through during the trip. It is a great way to enhance your experience and have a great trip with the family.
Long hours in the car leave everyone’s legs feeling cramped and uncomfortable. The best way to stave off the discomfort is by getting a lot of exercises each time you stop for a pee break. Most road trips will be far more pleasant if you allow the kids to get some of their energy out at the pit stop.
While playing tag is a game that requires running with little props, your kids may get bored of it after the fifth time in one day. Consider bringing a Frisbee, jump rope, tennis ball or bubbles to get the kids exercising and boost morale. When your kids nod off after a long pit stop, you will appreciate the feeling of a seat that is not being kicked.
Patience for a family road trip
As with everything related to parenting, patience is the most important tool you can ever bring with you. Try to understand the amount of energy contained in your tiny toddler’s body, and be patient and empathetic during your family road trip experience. If possible, remember to take things slow and savor the moment, constantly rushing means missing out on important memories.
Respect Each Other’s Privacy and Boundaries
We all know siblings can end up fighting when they stay together for a long time. To avoid such issues which can ruin the whole trip, you should have a discussion with the whole family before you leave. You should set some boundaries and instruct everyone to respect them. Having a detailed discussion with the kids before the trip starts can really help keep things civil in the car.
Road trips are more popular than ever this year, with many travelers choosing to stay closer to home while discovering completely new sights, sounds, and flavors. For a safe and secure trip, pick the right vehicle, ensuring it has as many safety features as possible. Make sure to list down useful information – including local clinics and hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and even a personal injury lawyer. Plan your driving schedule and play on the safe side by stopping overnight if you have already been driving for nine hours or thereabouts.
The ease that car travel provides when traveling with children, alongside freedom, independence, and flexibility, are just a few reasons for the popularity of this mode of travel. If you will be taking your first road trip this year, ensure it is a safe and secure one by keeping the following considerations in mind.