When it comes to travelling with the family, many of us grapple with the decision of whether to fly or hit the road. Since buying round-trip fares for the entire family can get pricey, many opt to load up the car with the family. Having survived two ten-plus hour drives with two children under the age of five, I’m here to tell you that family road trips can be done and can be fun. You just need to be smart about it and roll with the punches.
Pack Smart for the Family Road Trip
You not only need to think about what you’re packing for your actual trip, but also what you’re bringing for the car ride. If you don’t want to stop at every rest stop, you need to pack snacks, lots of snacks. Whether it means simple things like goldfish or filling a cooler; bring plenty of food. It will not only make the ride easier, but will also save you money. Also be sure to bring along plenty of crayons, coloring books, and regular books to read.
Timing is Everything for the Road Trip
Besides the food and books, you also need to consider what time of day/night you will be leaving for your road trip. If you have small kids who will be asking, “are we there yet?” every two minutes, you may want to consider leaving late at night so they will sleep for a few hours while you drive in peace. If you are going to do this, make sure you have enjoy rest before hitting the road. We did this one time during an eight-hour drive. Once the kids woke up, we were practically there! This can really make the ride a lot easier to handle.
Take Breaks During the Road Trip
If you think you are going to go from home to your destination straight through, think again. You will need to stop as a necessity and for safety reasons during your road trip. Take a look at your route and determine the half-way point. Once you do this, look for hotels or rest spots nearby. If it’s a rest area, perhaps you can stop for an hour or two and eat and stretch your legs. If it’s hotel, it’s a good time to get some sleep. This will not only leave you feeling refreshed, but also less irritable!
Gadgets for the Road Trip
While I’m not one to load up on technology for a trip, some techie help doesn’t hurt. Consider a portable DVD player.
This can help distract the kids and make the road trip go by a lot faster. Another option is an iPad or other device where your kids can play games. This is also a great way to make the time fly. Just make sure everything is fully charged and to bring along your car charger.
Put the Fun in Family Road Trip
Instead of automatically dreading spending numerous hours in the car with your family, try to find the fun it. There are a lot of fun games you can make up to make the ride a lot easier for everyone in the car. I play the color game with my kids during road trips and even during shorter rides. Basically, we all pick a color and look for something that color as we’re riding along. “I Spy” is another favorite. If you want to throw some learning into it with older kids you can play a letter game. Have them look for certain letters and signs, trying to scrounge up all the letters of the alphabet by the end.
The best advice is to keep a positive outlook and keep your eye on the prize. The vacation will be worth all those hours in the car!