The idea of planning a long road trip with the kids might make you feel anxious but you don’t have to because we’ve got you covered with these tips.
Before any good road trip, you want to schedule your vehicle for routine maintenance: Have your oil changed, your breaks, lights, and tires checked and your gas tank filled up.
Even still, accidents and unforeseen breakdowns do happen, so be sure to have a first-aid kit handy. A flashlight, some jumper cables, and a pack of water are other things to keep in your car.
If you’re traveling with toddlers, swing by your local fire station and ask them to double check the safety of your car seats. If they aren’t properly installed, they will fix them for you, no problem.
When you’ve got a lot of distance to cover, watching a couple of movies will help everyone in the backseat stay calm and quiet for longer. And keep everyone in the front seat saner for longer too! (Can we get an Amen?)
Consider purchasing, or borrowing, a portable DVD player and some DVD’s.
Now is a good time to pull out the handheld electronic games also.
When all of that stops being fun- hand out the coloring pages and coloring pencils you packed, give each kid an activity tray and let them go to town.
So long as they don’t get car sick, an older kid might enjoy reading a book along the way also.
Swing by your local dollar store beforehand and fill up a small “treasure chest” bag and fake money to keep with you in your vehicle. During the drive, the kids can earn “money” for good behavior and at the end of the trip, or during rest stops, they can use their money to purchase items from out of the treasure bag.
It will give them a goal to work toward and an extra incentive to behave.
Find out if your destination has a washer and dryer available.
If so, you won’t need to pack as many pairs of clothes.
If not, don’t skimp! Kids are no stranger to accidental spills and mud piles and you won’t want to be without enough clothes. Save space in your suitcases by rolling all of your clothing rather than folding them. It’s a fun process and the kids can even pitch in and help.
Pro tip: Have an emergency change of clothes ready for each kid on the top of the suitcase pile. That way you have easy access to them during a quick rest stop swap-a-roo.
Give kids a say
Kids love to feel included in a decision-making process. Let them have a small say on some items in their own suitcase. Maybe they have a favorite outfit they’d love to bring. Or a special stuffed animal that will help them sleep better away from home.
You’re ready to go!
But remember you’re traveling with kids. So be patient. You will need to make frequent stops for bathroom breaks, and “shake breaks”. Because expecting young kids to sit still longer than two hours at a time isn’t realistic.
Look for rest stops with playgrounds or interesting picnic spots for lunch. But it doesn’t have to be fancy. Any place with open space is good enough to let them burn up energy.
One of the easiest ways to save money on a trip is on your food.
Long road trips can leave everyone feeling cranky and hungry- kids especially. Having quick snacks on hand like fruit and packaged items is a lifesaver. Snacks on the road tend to be pricey and unhealthy.
Pack Your Lunch
Pack a cooler and enjoy a homemade lunch for your first day on the road. Not only does it save money, but it also saves time and frustration. You have the luxury to stop anywhere you want, whenever you want. Versus scrambling to find a suitable food place when everyone is out of their minds hungry.
If possible, book a hotel with a refrigerator and kitchen set up so you can cook some of your own meals rather than eating out for every single one.
If you do plan to eat out, aim for brunch or lunch. They are often less crowded and are more inexpensive.
Bonus: Find a hotel offering a continental breakfast.
Find Free Fun
Surprisingly, many things to see and do in a new city are completely free. Look for discounted museum days, check out a National Park, go for a nature walk, swim or fish in a lake, catch a street performance, and much more.
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself!