Road trips are part of our family travel routine. We drive to Florida every summer, and for us that is 16 hours at least in the car. We’ve driven to Niagara Falls, as well as the beach, and this year we are going to Hilton Head for vacation. So that means another family road trip! One thing I love about road trips is that our children are great road travelers. They have only flown a handful of times, so getting in the car for vacation is now part of the adventure. They don’t complain about driving and they know it means some fun extra activities and snacks that they may not get if we stayed at home. But, surviving a road trip with your children may take some work on your part. So today, I want to share 10 Tips to Surviving a Road Trip with Your Children.
1. Add a few extra hours to your travel time. Children get bored, antsy, and everyone can use a little time outside the confines of the vehicle. Adding this extra time helps you plan for potty stops, stretch breaks, gas, and meals. Just because MapQuest says it’ll take us 11 hours to Hilton Head, we are planning about 14.
2. Plan your drive around your children’s schedules. You may need to leave around 4AM to give yourself some quiet drive time while they sleep. This will make stopping for a nice breakfast and rest break easy. Perhaps you want to drive overnight. We have done this. And although I hate it at the time, I’m usually okay when we hit our destination. It is nice to drive while the kids sleep.
3. Bring a good variety of games and activities. Movies and electronic devices are great. We’ve even picked enough movies based on our drive time before-the kids like the idea that we can be at Disney after they’ve watched about 8 movies :). Small LEGO sets are always a hit with the boys, as well as sticker books for our daughter. We like to play small card games as well.
4. Engage with the kids while you are driving. It’s easy to “forget” they are in the back seat if they are being quiet or entertaining themselves. But, sometimes I read to the little one while we are driving, or play “I Spy” with the older two.
5. Plan a stop for overnight. If you are driving for a day or two, you obviously need to stop overnight. But, the best tip I can give you is to stop at a hotel that has an indoor pool. Even though the kids may be sleeping when you pull into the hotel around 10PM, that doesn’t mean they won’t have energy to burn by the time you’ve checked in. So, a late night swim may be ideal for everyone!
6. Stash away new toys and books to pull out while you are driving. My children rarely bring anything they already have from home. A few days before we leave, I pack bags for each of them with mostly brand new books and activities. This is a huge lifesaver for us.
7. Electronic devices are a must. I know. I grew up with no tv in the car-and many moms may disagree with me on this. But, for us it’s pretty much an anything goes attitude when it comes to them playing their hand held devices. My kids don’t play video games during the week, and it has to be pouring down rain or buried under snow for them to play them most weekends. So playing on road trips is something they really look forward to, and we don’t feel bad about letting them play more than usual.
8. Know when it’s time for a stop. Traffic, car sickness, rearranging who sits where-these can all make your trip go downhill. After you’ve tried everything to refocus their thinking or you’ve looked for an alternative route to avoid the traffic, it may be time to just stop. In this time of cell phones and GPS, you may be minutes from a shopping mall, Target, or state park. It may be time to pull off the road and regroup before continuing on.
9. Research rest stops before you go. Some rest stops have a playground or walking trails. These are the ones you want to stop at because it serves a few purposes. Everyone gets out, can go to the restroom, and you can enjoy some walking or play time before getting back in the car.
10. Don’t forget the essentials. Plenty of water, dry snacks, grocery sacks, and wipes are at the top of my list for in the car. And, keep them handy where you can reach them :).
Are you ready for a summer road trip? I hope these were helpful to you! Where are you traveling this summer?