It’s fun to take a summer road trip with your kids, but sometimes the challenges can overtake the pleasures. Careful planning makes the difference between having a great time and ending up with a disaster. Here are some things to keep in mind before you take off to make sure everyone has a good time, kids and parents both!
Pack light and smart: The more you pack the less space you have in the car. Plan for a small carry-in bag for each person, holding 3-4 pair of underwear, shorts, t-shirts and socks. Make sure everything can go in the washer and dryer together. If you’re going to be on the road for longer than a few days, it’s easier to do a load of wash at a motel or laundry facility than to carry all of the clean and dirty clothes for the whole trip. And remember laundry soap!
Bring favorite snacks: Family-favorite snacks help keep hunger at bay when you’re between stops on the road. Don’t just go for junk food. Bring a cooler with bags of chopped fruit and veggies, nuts, trail mix, and cheese and crackers. You may want to plan at least one meal a day as a picnic on the road. Pack bread, condiments, lunchmeat and cookies for a quick meal at a rest stop, or park. Lots of places have picnic tables and grassy areas.
Plan plenty of stops: Sitting in a car all day is tedious and can lead to cranky kids and parents. Look for opportunities to break up the driving by stopping at attractions and parks. Even a half-hour at a roadside playground can help get out the kinks and make another couple of hours in the car more tolerable.
Plan car activities: Check out our Pinterest board Kids in the Car or look online for ideas for games and activities to make the trip go faster. Portable DVD players, handheld games and iPads can also keep everyone entertained. Look for audiobooks that the entire family can enjoy. If you will be traveling through a number of states, you could assign each child one of them to share information as you cross the borders.
Above all, have fun. You may have goals about where you want to go or what you want to do, but it’s more important to enjoy the journey. So you may not make as many miles as you wanted, but if everyone has a good time, then the trip was a success.