6 Road Trip Tips for Parents is brought to you today by guest contributor, Samantha. Samantha is a media relations specialist at Caliber Collision.
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As parents, vacation can often be just as hectic and challenging as our routine, everyday life. Road trips with kids can be successful if you tailor your journey to fit your children’s personalities and needs. Your children are different from your friend’s children so everything that works for them will not necessarily work for you!
6 Road Trip Tips for Parents
Take the time to customize your road trip and plan ahead so your family road trip will be a success. Following these simple road trip travel tips can turn potential road trip stress into quality, family-bonding moments.
Road Trip Tip #1 – Make Sure Car Seats are Correct
Since you will be in your vehicle for an extended period of time, make certain your children are in proper car seats for their weight and height. Even if it is just for ten minutes, do not allow your child to unbuckle for any reason. Wrecks can happen in the blink of an eye, and your child should remain buckled any time the vehicle is operating. Children under age 2 should remain rear-facing. Children should sit in a front-facing car seat until they meet the specified requirements to move into a booster seat. Listening to your children complain about staying buckled might be annoying, but your children’s safety is much more important. And, it is the law!
Road Trip Tip #2 – Be Ready for Spills
Accidents happen and by having cleaning supplies available, you can eliminate the panic of worrying how you will clean it up. Have a bag designated strictly for cleaning supplies and have it within easy reach. Paper towels, wipes, antibacterial gel, a towel, and plastic shopping bags (to hold your trash) are all great items for your cleaning supply collection.
Each child should have one extra set of clothes not packed in luggage. When spills happen (because they will), you can just grab the new outfit and go. On long road trips with kids, pillowcases and blankets get dirty often. So it’s smart to have an extra set handy to swap out when the need arises.
Road Trip Tip #3 – Plan Ahead
Preparation is crucial when you are road tripping with your family. Map out a rough itinerary of your travel schedule so you can plan your stops to coincide with known rest areas and restaurants. Depending on your children’s ages, the time length between your stops will vary. Allow your children the chance to stretch their legs and burn off some energy so they will be more relaxed in the car.
When road trip planning, extend your arrival time by at least an hour. You will most likely run into traffic and extra bathroom breaks. Take the time to make a list of the items you need from food to clothing to entertainment choices. You will reduce your chances of forgetting something and you can better assess what you still need to find.
Road Trip Tip #4 – Design a Mile-measuring Device
Instead of being asked “are we there yet?” every 15 minutes, design a mile-measuring device so even your younger children can gauge how much longer is left in your journey. For example, these 3 ideas are fun road trip games:
- If you have a 700 mile trip, place 7 sticky notes on the window and have your children take one down for every 100 miles.
- Another option is to string a piece of yarn from one side of your car to the other and move the car along accordingly. When the car reaches the other side, you are at your destination.
- For children old enough to understand geography, you could place a picture of your car on a map and move it along as you proceed with the route.
By giving your children a way to visually gauge your journey, it will help them comprehend how much longer remains.
Road Trip Tip #5 – Bring Entertainment Options
One of the hardest parts of road trips is entertaining your children. Instead of simply throwing your children’s favorite toys in a bag, take time to think about what will actually entertain your children for an extended period of time. DVD players and tablets are great options, but consider other options so they are not constantly in front of a screen.
For older children, activity books, chapter books, and card games are fantastic choices. And, for younger children, coloring books and imaginative items like dolls or cars are smart choices.
Engage everyone by playing road trip games like I Spy or bingo by using landmarks along your way. If you have enough space, have a parent ride part of the way in the backseat to provide comfort and extra entertainment for your children.
Road Trip Tip #6 – Let Loose and Have Fun!
Children can sense parents’ stress and usually this tends to escalate the situation. No matter what happens on your road trip, just remember that one day (many years from now) this will be a memory told amidst much laughter at the Thanksgiving meal.
Of course, it is important to have order and a road trip plan, but sometimes, things just happen! If you end up arriving 2 hours later than planned, it is not the end of the world. Just embrace the moment and have fun with your family!
Samantha handles media relations for Caliber Collision. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, traveling, baking, and playing with her puppy, Emma. She likes to make a difference in her local community by volunteering at several organizations.
Photos of Princess Sweetie Pie (above left) and Princess P (above right), Tiffany’s daughters!
More travel posts from Toot Sweet 4 Two’s archives:
You Might Also Like These Other Road Trip Resources:
20 Car Trip Games for Kids from Stuck On You
Printable Pre-Trip Checklist from Erin at My Frugal Home