Guest Blogger, David Moss
Road trips are a great way for a family to have fun together. A chance for everyone to spend a little bit of time together and experience an adventure at the same time. However, while there is no reason why this endeavor shouldn’t be an epic adventure for all involved, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if it isn’t adequately planned and that is why this article was written.
I am going to go over some of the steps you need to take to make sure that your road trip is the adventure it is meant to be. Following these guidelines can be the difference between your family members having the time of their lives or feeling like they just had to endure a huge punishment.
1. Safety Comes First
Before you even begin your road trip, you should ensure that the car is in good working condition. Check all of its fluids (oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, wiper solution) and make sure you pack extra oil and antifreeze. Proper vehicle maintenance will prevent the car from breaking down and leaving you and your kids stranded by the side of the road.
Make sure that you pack an emergency car kit, a first aid kit, a cell phone charger and a flashlight. After you check those items, you should then check the child safety seat and make sure it is in proper working condition.
2. Pack Properly
Make sure that when you pack the things you’ll need for the trip, you do so strategically. Things that you are going to use on a regular basis (such as snacks or drinks) should be placed on top and things that are going to be used less frequently—or not likely used at all—should be placed on the bottom.
3. Packing Snacks & Drinks
Packing food and drinks prevents you from having to make multiple stops and gives your children something to keep them occupied. When packing snacks, you’ll want to make sure that you choose foods that not only will travel well, but also ones that are fairly healthy. After all, you don’t want the children to get all hyped up on sugar and bounce all over the car while you are trying to drive. You’ll also want to avoid packing foods that are too messy—such as some fruits and yogurt. Items that fit this description often include string cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, sandwiches, beef or turkey jerky, granola bars, cheese crackers and whole grain cereals.
Also make sure that you pack plenty of drinks for the trip. Suitable drinks for a road trip are anything with a re-closable lid such as water, coconut water or sports drinks. Be sure to avoid drinks that can be easily spilled such as cans of soda or juice boxes.
4. Think Of Seating
One thing that is often overlooked on road trips is seating. Too often parents don’t think strategically when it comes to their children’s seating. For example, siblings who have a tendency to fight should be placed apart from each other—if at all possible. If that’s not feasible, then at least place some pillows between them to create the feeling of separation. It is also a good idea to place one of the parents or some other adult back with the children during an extended road trip to keep everything under control and also to make sure that the children’s drink and snack needs are quickly taken care of.
5. Planning Travel Time
Another important tip to consider is planning your travel time around your child’s sleep schedule. Some people like to travel at their children’s bedtime. However, this works only if the parents aren’t too tired or sleepy to drive late at night. Taking the time to plan your trip around your child’s sleep time can mean the difference between a successful trip and an unsuccessful one.
You should make sure that entertainment for everyone in the car is provided. Entertainment options should be things that everyone can enjoy as a group. Suitable entertainment can include music, audio books, coloring books, and travel board games that don’t have a lot of small pieces.
If possible bring along a book of road trip games. These kind of books will familiarize you with such timeless road trip games as ‘I Spy’, “The Grocery Game’, ‘Name That Tune’ and ‘Road Trip Bingo.’
You can also bring your child’s tablet, portable game system or headphones. However, this should be given to them only when all other entertainment options have been exhausted, as a last resort, so to speak. After all, you don’t want a car ride where everyone is looking down at digital screens instead of interacting with each other.
7. Regular Stops
It is imperative that regular stops are made. A regular stop can mean checking out a roadside attraction or having a bite to eat at a restaurant. It doesn’t matter what activity is being done, what’s important is that everyone gets out of the car for a few moments, stretches their legs and gets their circulation pumping. This can be done every few hours, or if necessary, more often. And there’s no need to stick with a rigid schedule as far as stops are concerned either. If everyone’s getting on each other’s nerves, then taking a stop can go a long way in improving everyone’s mood. It can also help to keep the driver fresh and alert.
Nowadays, too many people think of a road trip as just the journey to a destination. A way to get from point “A” to point “B.” However, that doesn’t have to be the case. With proper planning and thought, the family road trip can be its own adventure. It can give the family a chance to bond and have fun together; all while experiencing new people and places. Few activities can rival a road trip in this regard and that is why it will always be the quintessential family activity, as it has been since the invention of the automobile.
Born and raised in Detroit, David Moss had no choice but to become a car enthusiast. His mother swears his first word was “car”. As a young freelance writer, he is on a mission to turn his passion for cars into a career. You can reach him at @DavidCMoss