Summer road trip season is here, so pack up the car. Charge up those handheld gadgets, get the music playlist ready, and grab some paper maps. Yes, even if you prefer using your favorite GPS navigation system on your smartphone, a paper map is a must-have. You don’t want to be driving through an unfamiliar area with a weak signal and get stranded, which is bound to happen when kids are at their hungriest and crankiest. So, go a little old school and bring along a paper map for the family road trip. Once you’ve packed up all your belongings, the only thing left to do is hit the road.
If your overall goal is getting from point A to point B on your family road trip with as little backseat commotion as possible, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Family Road Trip Planning Tips for your Holiday
Learn About the Destination You’re Traveling to
To engage the kids before, during and even after the trip, pick up some books that analyze the geography of the place you’re traveling to. This can be used as a huge motivating factor and give them something to look forward to after packing. One book, in particular, that’s become popular is the colorful National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas. This goes state by state, sharing fun things to do, roadside attractions and even discusses crazy traffic laws. For instance, did you know in the state of California, it’s a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale? That’s a crazy law, right? On a more serious note, California has laws that are stricter than many other states.
A word of advice: Give children their own camera to capture these special moments and document the journey. They can take pictures of fun places they see along the way, collect sightseeing artifacts, keep track of distance covered each day, and draw pictures of the destinations they’ve seen.
Make a Supply Backpack
Although school may be ending soon, a backpack in the car for each child goes a long way towards keeping the peace in the backseat. Work with your kids to fill each backpack with fun travel games, coloring books, and favorite snacks. Making children a part of the decision-making process, like choosing what to pack, is a great way to keep them committed and focused. For older kids, try including a travel journal. That way they can keep track of their favorite places and activities along the way. Don’t forget comfort items too, such as teddy bears, pillows, blankets, and pets.
A word of advice: Be sure to pack extra supplies such as extra coloring pencils or crayons, and coloring books. Before taking off, make sure your child can carry his/her backpack on their own. The last thing you’d want is a backpack that’s too heavy for them to carry around. For pets, pack a leash, grooming brush, and extra towels.
Enjoy a Moment Without the Gadgets
Of course, we all love our handheld gadgets, but don’t forget about classic travel games. Kids still love them, and they’re a great way to enjoy some time away from the screen and connect as a family, while playing games like I-Spy, and the License Plate Game. Rational thinking card games are also a great way to have fun in the car, too, since they teach kids about the various parts of their body while making the material fun.
A word of advice: Do your best to work learning into road-trip games. For instance, toddlers might love playing the Alphabet Game or count the cars, in which you simply pick a color and have kids keep track of how many they see in gas stations and resting areas.
When Choice Hotels and FamilyFun magazine conducted a survey back in 2013, they discovered that 73 percent of families considered snacks to be the number one way to keep kids happy on a family road trip. So pack a cooler full of them. Include healthy snack choices such as raisins, carrots, trail mix, orange slices, and grapes. Also, be sure to pack treats like cookies and granola bars. Don’t forget water bottles, applesauce, and juice boxes.
A word of advice: Make sure kids can easily access the snacks on their own. In other words, don’t put the cooler all the way in the back. That way, you won’t have to stop every 20-30 minutes when they’re hungry or thirsty.
Download the Right Apps
We all love our smartphones, and fortunately, with the right applications, your smartphone will without a doubt, help you make it through any family road trip. A couple must-have apps include Waze, which helps navigate around traffic jams and construction delays; iExit, is another app which gives you the 411 on gas stations, grocery stores, and local coffee shops.
A word of advice: Some applications, such as travel guides, might require the user to be connected to Wi-Fi. So make sure to add your must-have apps on your phone before you leave. It’s also a good idea to sign up ahead of time for accounts, if necessary, so you can use your apps when you need it.
I hope you enjoyed the read! What are some other family road trip traveling tips? Feel free to leave a reply and I’ll be sure to get back to you.