We just got back from our road trip to visit my husband’s family. Some may say that traveling with kids in a car for 6+ hours is not their idea of a great vacation, but it went well thanks to some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the past few years. I am by no means an expert on this, but here’s what works for us.
- Make sure your car is in great shape. Have a tune-up and oil change done ahead of time to make sure all is working perfectly. Nothing ruins a road trip faster than breaking down on the side of the road.
- Plan your route AND your rest stops ahead of time. Have a look at the map and see where natural rest stops occur. Don’t leave it to chance that there will be somewhere to stop with bathrooms, play areas or refreshments available.
- Try to travel based on the kids schedule. If possible, drive when it typically would be nap time, make pit stops when they have energy to burn.
- Prepare to be the entertainer. Bone up on games like I-SPy or other games the entire family can play like travel bingo. Search online – I like MomsMinivan for lots of ideas
- CD’s with kids music or a childrens’ story being read aloud give mom a break from doing ALL the entertaining! If you have a DVD player in the car, allow the kids to choose their movies and play them when everyone needs a little down time.
- Create excitement by telling the kids what will happen at the next stop or when you get to the final destination. Things like knowing they go swimming in the hotel pool or that the camp ground has a playground they can play at when they get there are great motivators to cooperate in the car.
- Make it educational. Practice reading signs, recognizing numbers, telling time, identifying directions like left or right or North, South, East and West. Older children can plan some of the trip, track the distance on a map of their own or research interesting places along the way.
- Bring along surprises. I buy dollar store toys, books and treats and dole them out when things get a little boring.
- Follow the scout motto to “Be Prepared”and pack some of these items in the car just in case:
- first aid kit
- map (even if you think you know where you are going you might come up against a detour or other situation that forces you to change your course)
- wipes/paper towels
- tissues/toilet paper (for when your 4 year old can’t make it to the rest stop!)
- diapers/wipes/change pad
- blankets or other comfort items for nap time
- change of clothes
- plastic bags
- meds – baby, children and adult pain relief, cold medication, prescriptions etc.
10. Practice patience and realize that no trip (no matter how well you plan it!) will be perfect. Ease up and make sure you enjoy the journey…not just the destination!