Road trips are awesome. From the snacks, to the music, to the stuff you see between point A and point B, they are just the best. Wait…that is a description of one WITHOUT kids.
The highlight reel for road trips with kids is more like frequent bathroom stops, competing noise, complaints about length of time in the car, and generally at least one bout of car sickness. In spite of that, we still love them! Especially located where we are, there are so many great family vacations driving distance from the East Valley.
With a family of 5 it is a lot more cost effective than flying anywhere, so we have learned to embrace the road trip and all the joys that go along with it. Having learned a lot over the years of traveling by car with small kids, we know now how to prepare to make our road trip as fun for all as possible.
8 Tips for Road Trip Survival:
- Never leave home without plastic bags and paper towels: every road trip starts with packing a “sick kit”…plastic bags/paper towels/baby wipes/change in clothes for all passengers (mom and dad included) in an easily accessible place. Our very first road trip as a family ended with our 18 month old throwing up all over herself, her car seat, and the back seat of the car while we sat in an endless line of traffic and all we had to try and clean it up were some napkins leftover from lunch. Novice mistake. Failure to plan is planning to fail, people.
- Charge everything: movies are a great distraction but only work when the portable electronic devices you play them on are adequately charged. Charge your phone, charge the tablets, charge the car, charge your life, CHARGE IT ALL.
- Frequently check in on the need for bathroom breaks: assess the situation before it becomes a problem. Especially when those kids are happily distracted by the devices you so smartly charged to their fullest (see point #2), we have had many cases where we find out when the need for a bathroom is imminent and of course there is nowhere to stop.
- Rotate the seating arrangement: switch up who sits where as the space in your car permits. Sometimes a change of scenery (and sibling you are sitting next to) ensures the peace is kept. Just don’t put anyone on the roof of the car…that is generally frowned upon.
- Pack all the snacks: if your kids are like mine, a variety of snacks are a must have whether we are driving 20 minutes or 20 hours.
- Have new entertainment for the drive home (not just on the way there): generally, the excitement of going on vacation means some natural distraction from boredom for the first leg of the trip. On the way home, a week of routine-less days and more sugar than usual typically means that dollar spot activity book they liked on the trip out is worthless on the way home. Just keep a few surprise activities tucked away under the seat until you need them.
- Ear plugs: cheap, effective, and worth their weight in gold. Use early and often.
- Engage the kids in making a trip playlist: music is a wonderful distraction. Create a family playlist before the trip and put everyone’s feel good favorites on it. A little car dancing is always a good idea.
Wishing you safe travels (and road trip sanity) this summer!