A great road trip calls for a delicate balance between preparation and spontaneity. You don’t want to plan every second. Some of the most memorable moments on a road trip are off the beaten path. But parents know a little preparation goes a long way, especially with younger kiddos. Here are 12 tips to ensure your road trip goes off without a hitch(hike).
1. Pack a snack tackle box
To beat backseat hunger and boredom, gather all kinds of goodies, including cereal, dried fruit, frozen grapes, nuts and chocolate candies, and pack them each in individual Ziploc® brand bags. Pack them all in a larger container with water bottles, napkins and some gum.
2. Make that a water
Stick to water for everyone. It’s healthy, you can refill bottles at rest stops and spills won’t stain the car. Have your water do double duty by freezing water bottles in advance and placing them in a cooler to help keep your food fresh.
3. Bring a piece of home
Packing blankets, pillows or favorite toys will help make the backseat cozy for kids.
4. Employ junior tour guides
Let your children in on the planning. Have them help research hotels and attractions along the way. They’ll be that much more excited.
5. Keep ’em busy
Bring portable DVD players, or download music, movies and games on your laptop or tablet. Or go old school with classic road trip games like “I spy” or the license plate game.
6. Give gifts
Some parents stop at the dollar store or library pre-trip and surprise the kids with books or toys along the way.
7. Prepare for the worst
Pack a first aid kit, car emergency kit with flashlight, blanket and jumper cables, and extra food and water in case you get stranded. (Traveler Tip: if your car overheats, turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heater to take heat away from the engine.)
8. Sing a song
Nothing brings families together (and stops the complaining) like an old-fashioned singalong. Pick a family favorite, or make your way through your road trip playlist. Let the kids play DJ for a few songs each.
9. Bag it!
Pack one overnight bag with everyone’s essentials (toothbrushes, pajamas, swimsuits, underwear, etc.) so you don’t have to lug, unpack and repack multiple big suitcases at each overnight stop.
10. Swim a lap
Stop at hotels with a pool. Plunging in the water after a long car ride helps everyone unwind. If your hotel doesn’t have a pool, ask for directions to the nearest park and let everyone run around before you settle in for the night.
11. Don’t push it
Stop often. And don’t drive while tired. You’ll have a happier, healthier car ride if you stop regularly to let everyone move around.
12. Embrace your inner tourist
Some of the most “touristy” outings are often kids’ favorites. And remember, kids tire of “incredible views.” Make sure destinations can be interactive for them or else they’ll get bored.