It is a bit ironic that I sit here typing these tips that have been rattling around in my brain for quite some time, after a particularly harrowing flight. I flew solo to a conference and our plane was being tossed about like a toddler was playing with a toy.
But I digress.
You see, experiences like I mentioned above are a big part of the reason that my family and I load up the car and hit the road. Not to mention it can be cost prohibitive for our family of four to fly.
Also, some of my best memories from my childhood include the funny mishaps that happened during our trips. Many of which we still laugh about!
Let’s get down to it.
Our best road trip tips.
Are you taking your own car or renting one?
Has your car been acting kind of odd lately? Are you guilty of turning up the radio to drown out the weird noise your car has been making? Then chances are you may be better off with a rental. Some folks opt to rent a car just to save the wear and tear on their own vehicle.
Choose where you go to the potty wisely.
This might seem like a simple tip, but a friend once told me that when she traveled alone with her children, she always made the potty pit stops at a hotel near the exit. My friend and her children would zip in just the restrooms just off the lobby and get back on the road. Now, this might seem a little unconventional, but let’s face it, it is likely safer in this day and age. Not to mention that doing this really lets you get a feel for new and different properties that you may not have otherwise frequented.
Make a playlist the whole family will love.
So, as silly as it seems, music selection has been a big source of conflict between my husband and I. He gets down to Led Zeppelin and Phish, while I like to listen to a very diverse selection ranging from country to the top 40 hits.
It can be fun to put together a playlist before you hit the road, that way, you don’t end up sighing heavily every time a long jam session comes on. Not that that ever happens in my car.
Are you stopping halfway or will you be powering through?
Growing up, we almost always stopped halfway. 9 times out of 10 my mom would carefully plan where we would lay our heads for the night and make reservations in advance. Well, the one time that my mom didn’t make an advance reservation we ended up having to drive another 200 miles to a town where there were open rooms.
The moral of this story, if you plan to stop for the evening, make sure that you have reservations secured ahead of time.
If you choose not to stop and power through to your destination like my husband and I often do, have a plan. My husband and I have an understanding that I will stay awake and chat with him to ensure that he stays alert and awake. That being said there is no shame in a power nap in the parking lot of a rest area.
Keep the “are we there yet’s” at bay with preplanned activities
We’ve done a wide variety of things to help keep the anxious kiddos happy and entertained. Here’s the thing, eventually no matter how prepared you are and how much fun you make the trip, eventually your kids are going to get restless.
My screen time limits go out the window when we embark on a long road trip. The fact of the matter is, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to make it through the miles.
I almost always make a stop at the dollar store to grab some new things for my kids to do. The reason I make an extra stop is to make sure that I get things that my kids haven’t seen before.
If you take a different route and surprise the kids with a trip, we gave our kids clues along the way. Check it out.
Nothing beats good road trip snacks.
I once saw a meme that said “your road trip snacks should look like a 9 year old was given $100 to pick out the snacks.” Well if we left it up to my oldest, he would choose all healthy snacks.
Just keep in mind if you have lots of salty snacks, the more likely that frequent bathroom breaks will be. Salty snacks = lots of drinks.
Plan ahead of time what you will keep with in an arms length ready to grab and plan what you want to save to get out and rotate options around at a later date.
Just because an attraction didn’t make your original plan doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop.
Assuming that you aren’t on a time crunch, why not stop at the neat roadside attraction? See a restaurant advertised that looks amazing but you hadn’t planned to take that particular exit. Why not veer off the course and give it a try? These side trips often end up being the most memorable parts of your time as a family.
Let the kids help navigate.
My oldest son always wants to know the name of the town that we have passed or are approaching. We purchased him a road atlas for kids and he now tells us as we are approaching cities.
He thinks it is cool to keep us updated and we think its cool that he is learning even if he doesn’t realize it.
Stretch those legs often
Often our stops are at rest areas because more times than not, they have grassy areas where the boys can run and play. We have even found some fantastic rest areas that have playgrounds. Those are a little harder to get the kids to leave!
What do you think that we missed? What road trip tips do you utilize when you hit the road for your adventures with your family?