Family road trips are the best. It’s time together when memories are made and adventures are shared. It’s a special time to bond with each other. Sometimes, road trips can be a little wacky too. Especially with kids. Here are six family road trip tips that will make your next family adventure go smoothly.
Prep Your Car
Before setting out on the open road, check your car to ensure everything is working fine and dandy. Check your oil and change it if necessary, along with all other fluids, such as wiper fluid, coolant, water, etc. Check your tire pressure and add air or let some out if you need to. Get the kids involved in the inspections by having them honk the horn or watch to make sure your turn signals are working. And, most importantly, make sure your spare tire is good to go and you have the tools to change it, if it comes to that. The last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire and missing out on your vacation.
Plan Your Route
We’ve found that oftentimes it’s quicker to take back routes than major highways and interstates. It’s not always the case of course, but we have shaved off as much as 45 minutes here and there by finding tricky back routes. When planning your trip, plan the route as well. Go online to Google Maps and plug in your starting point and destination to see your options.
Additionally, download one of the gas apps available, such as GasBuddy or Gas Guru, to find the cheapest gas along the way. Gas apps will tell you the cost of fuel in real-time, allowing you to find the best route that offers the most savings.
Plan Extra Time for Crazy Stops
While you’re planning out your route, do a little research and find out what interesting or wacky attractions you’ll be passing by. If there happens to be the ‘World’s Largest fill-in-the-blank,’ don’t you want to see it?! The kids will get a kick out of these weird spots, and so will you. As you drive along, take notice of any signs that will lead you to additional roadside hot spots too and take a mini detour to check them out.
Pack Snacks and Drinks
If your kids are like mine, they get become very hangry. And this isn’t pleasant for anyone. It’s all too easy to grab a candy bar and soda while fueling up or make a quick stop at the drive-thru, but resist the urge! This adds to your expenses and is just plain unhealthy. Instead, pack some healthy road trip snacks and bring a cooler full of water. When the kids’ (and your) tummies start rumbling, pull out the snacks and everyone’s happy again.
Keep ‘Em Entertained
Riding in a car for long periods of time can become very boring to kids. I get it. And a bored kid can become an angry kid, and an angry kid can become a naughty kid. Avoid boredom and anger by keeping the kids entertained. I always have my kids pack a busy bag the day before we leave. They’ll include books, toys, a laptop, electronic devices…you name it. (I’ve also found some very odd things in there that I’m not sure what they had in mind for on a road trip, such as a Magic Eight Ball and soccer trophy). They always have fun packing their busy bags, because this is their thing. Whatever they want to bring. It’s also great because they have fun things to do in the hotel room as well.
Aside from the busy bag, we also bring DVDs so they can watch movies while we drive. And headphones. Don’t forget the headphones. Otherwise you’ll have to listen to the cartoons too. While I’m all about some fun cartoons, I’d rather chat with my husband (or sleep!) while the kids enjoy their flicks.
But, seeing as how this is a FAMILY road trip, we definitely like to have fun together too! Games and sing-alongs are perfect ways to both keep everyone entertained and enjoy some bonding time! You could start a scavenger hunt and try to spot various items or signs along your route, play the license plate game, or sing some of your favorite songs.
Two things I never leave for a road trip without are: 1) pillows for everyone, and 2) blankets for everyone. When we’re driving late at night and the kids get sleepy, what better way for them to get comfy cozy then with their pillow and blanket. It’s also great for me because I seem to be the one who always gets cold and therefore I’m quite often found wrapped in a blanket as well.
Hopefully, these family road trip tips will help you as you pack up the family, load up the car, and get out there to explore the country! There’s so much to experience, and so many wonderful memories to be made.
Image via Flickr by State Farm