While not every child goes through the same experiences, nor is every family dynamic the same, one thing that is a very common activity for young families is to pack up the car and go on a road trip.
Think back to your childhood and you’ve probably got some memories of road trips with your family too, and whether you think positively or negatively about your personal road trip experiences, they are probably some of the most eventful memories that you’ve got.
It can be a time for family bonding, you probably associate it with a feeling of excitement because you were going on vacation, you were seeing new places and yes there may of course have been arguments.
But no matter what, a family road trip is an experience and it’s something that every family should try at some point. There are ways in which you can ensure that this will end up being a positive and fun experience for your family. Here’s 6 tips to keep in mind for your road trip.
1. Plan a Route
There is a certain temptation to just load up the car and start driving without having any idea where you’re actually going, and maybe that’s something that you should try at some point, but I don’t think it’s such a good idea to do it with your family.
It’s important to remember that kids can tend to get rather impatient and they’re not used to spending so many hours sitting in a car. If you end up getting lost or going off-course, it will add to that and it will also stress you out too.
You know that old joke about how kids on road trips will always pester their parents with the question ‘are we there yet?!’. Well, it’s not really a joke. You can expect that question when your kids get bored and if you are on a set out route you can give them a good idea of how much longer the journey will take.
2. Avoid Getting Cramped
Tying into the idea of impatience and frustration, that will often be bolstered if everyone is lacking in their own sense of personal space. Car seats aren’t really designed for long journeys and the longer you’re in them, the less comfortable they get.
There aren’t really a whole lot of solutions to this particular problem if the car you’ve got isn’t on the bigger side. And I would recommend that unless you have a small family, you should probably avoid a long road trip in a small car.
The ideal cars for road trips, if you have three kids or more, are SUVs. The seats are less cramped, and there’s more of them. Typically with seven seats, you can ensure space between everyone and lots of room for luggage too.
3. Take Regular Breaks
Even if you do have a sufficiently sized car with more comfortable seats, long journeys are still long journeys and it will eventually get uncomfortable anyway, which is why it’s important that you do take regular breaks.
This is to both give your kids a chance to stretch their legs and get some fresh air, but also so that you’re not driving constantly for however long the journey is. I would say take a break of about 15 minutes every 2 hours.
Try and find rest stops that aren’t too much of a digression from your planned out route. I would also suggest that if the journey is longer than eight hours, you should probably split it up over the course of two days and stay in a motel one night.
4. Come Up With Some Games
Road trips with your family are kind of inherently fun, but conversations and taking in the sights of the countryside and all of the towns and cities you pass through will only get you so far. You need as many ways to entertain the kids as you can get.
They could bring books and handheld games consoles of course, but looking down for too long in a moving vehicle can result in motion sickness and also you want to use this as a time to bond.
So have some games planned you know that you can’t have a 14 foot trampoline all the time with you. You’ve got the classics like I Spy and 20 Questions, but if you are willing to shell out a little, there are all kinds of fun games out there specifically for this purpose.
5. Bring Snacks
When I say that you should bring some snacks for the journey, I’m not suggesting that you should necessarily pack meals especially not the cheapest vegetables you got from supermarket. You can do that if you want, but I would suggest that you should probably stop somewhere for lunch at some point.
Eating in a moving car is a bit tricky and substantial food is probably going to be likely to cause a mess. Instead, just have some small things in case someone gets hungry between breaks. For healthy stuff, you can go for grapes, nuts or crackers.
And then you can also bring some candy too but I wouldn’t go overboard on that. Your kids might eat a lot of candy out of boredom and then have no appetite for lunch or dinner. Make sure you have plenty of water for the trip also.
6. Make a Playlist
Every road trip needs a soundtrack. Music just makes everything more enjoyable and during lulls in conversation or when everyone gets tired of playing games, it’s nice to have something in the background to fill up those silences.
Back in the day, picking CDs or maxing a mixtape was a fun part of the experience, and you can still do that, but Spotify has made it so much easier. Let everybody pick a certain number of songs for a playlist, plug the phone into the car’s auxiliary outlet, and then put it on shuffle.
That way, you’ll get a nice balance of different kinds of music and everyone will get to hear something they like during the trip.
Above all else, the most important thing to remember is that this road trip should be fun and it should be a memory that you and your kids can cherish. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s true and if you follow all of these tips, it shouldn’t be a difficult thing to achieve.