In our younger days, road trips were a thing of adventure and glory! Pack a bag, grab your tunes, and head out towards your destination, letting the breeze from the open windows blow your cares away. However, times have changed, and now we have kids. The thought of a road trip now seems more like being trapped in a loud, confined (maybe smelly) space. However, if you plan well enough, you can get some of those care-free road trip feelings back. Here are 6 tips to help you have a better family road trip.
You and the kids will inevitably get hungry, so snacks are a must. But you want to choose the right ones. Choose a snack that’s too sugary, and your kids will be bouncing out of their car seats. Snacks that are too crumby or sticky will leave your car a mess. I suggest lots of fruits and some bite sized eats. Fruits like grapes (as long as your kids are old enough for grapes not to be a high-risk choking hazard), apple slices, or even apple sauce pouches are low-mess! Also, cups of Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, Cheerios, or other bite-sized crackers that kids don’t have to bite are ideal. A fun snack could also be trail mix! It’s just sweet enough to satisfy their cravings, but healthy enough to keep their sugar levels in check. Bring water as well, but make sure they’re not drinking too much!
You are going to want to keep your kids entertained for the duration of your trip. Playing I Spy and the license plate game can only get you so far along in your trip. Get their tablets set up with a few movies and games that they can play offline. Bring new books (or ones they haven’t seen in a while) for them to read. The dollar store has a pretty wide selection of coloring and activity books that you can pick up for cheap!! Don’t forget the crayons or colored pencils! An activity tray that fits on their lap is a great addition to a road trip too! It gives them a place to do their activities and eat.
Planning for bathrooms with kids is hard. Depending on how much they drink, or eat, they may have to go SEVERAL times more than you do. Public roadside bathrooms aren’t always the cleanest, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. You can buy disposable toilet seat covers, like this one, that can help make you feel better about your child using a public restroom. But what about when there is nowhere in sight to stop and your child HAS TO GO? It might be smart to bring a 5 gallon bucket (with lid), a roll of toilet paper, some trash bags, and a travel potty seat. It might not be ideal, but it will work in a pinch.
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you can relive a little bit of that road trip nostalgia. Before you leave, have your kids help you make a playlist of their favorite songs! Not every moment needs to be filled with activities. Sometimes it’s just nice to listen to great music, check out the scenery, and talk with your family.
Long road trips are great for napping, so make sure everyone has a little pillow and a blanket to keep them comfortable. Seatbelt pillows are great because they don’t take up a lot of extra space in the car!
If your kids are old enough, get them involved in planning your road trip. Have them look up the best routes to take. Maybe even allow them to plan a sight-seeing stop or two along the way to your final destination!