Traveling with young kids can be daunting, and that’s putting it mildly. Between the extra packing requirements and the unpredictable temperaments, a family vacation and an adult-only getaway are as different as night and day! The good news is – family vacations are completely doable and a ton of fun! Today we’ll share some of our favorite tips for planning a family road trip.
Families have been happily and successfully completing family vacations for a long time. Even better, the ever changing world of planes, trains, automobiles, hotels, motels, campsites, etc means that you are rich with options when it comes to customizing a family trip.
But if you’re not sure you’re ready to deal with security lines and less-than-understanding strangers, or if this is your first family trip, consider making it a road-trip. Driving gives you the most flexibility when it comes to travel plans and allows you to adapt as needed to any melt-downs, blow-outs or other kid-induced issues.
Still wary? Use these tried and true tricks and tips for traveling with tykes:
Planning a Family Road Trip
1 – Food
You know those Snickers commercials, “you’re not yourself when you’re hungry?” As parents, you know from experience how accurate that tagline can be. Not matter how—or how long—you’re traveling, make sure you stock up on snacks.
Snacks pull double duty, providing a distracting treat while staving off hunger-related crankiness. Hit bad traffic? A few extra snacks can make the difference between a tedious setback and deafening tantrums.
Go for items that:
- Travel well
- Are easy to eat
- Don’t make a big mess
- Offer real nourishment instead of empty calories
A few sugary options are fine for a special treat, but you’ll get more relief from classic, healthy options.
If you have the space, consider packing items for breakfast and lunch as well. You’ll save money by not dining out every meal and brown-bagging at roadside rests gives the kids a chance to run around and work off some excess energy.
2 – Music and More
Your vehicle’s stereo system will be your best friend. From local stations to satellite radio, sing-along tapes to personal mixes, music can provide endless and customizable distractions.
Need to keep the kids engaged? Put on their favorite album or station and encourage them to sing along. If they’re old enough to pay attention to longer stories, consider renting a few audiobooks to pass the time. Need to wind down? Switch over to calming classical for soothing white noise.
Long trips are the time to ease up on screen-time rules (if you have them). Allowing more movies and video games on long trips is an exciting treat for the kids and a helpful tool for parents. So long as you’re clear that it’s a special exception, kids will look forward to the treat on trips and have an easier time transitioning back to the regular routine at home.
3 – Activities
Plan to bring activities along, but don’t pack like it’s the end of the world. If you run out of coloring pages or batteries, there’s bound to be a Walmart or dollar store where you can restock.
Encourage older kids to help pack their own “carry on” entertainment bags of books, puzzles, craft projects, etc. Bring electronic versions of family games to share and grab a book of brain teasers. Simple activities like “Going on a Picnic” or conversation-starting questions never go out of style.
For toddlers and babies: hit the dollar store before you go and get a bunch of cheap new toys and books that you can pull out as surprises throughout the trip.
4 – Plan
With kids, you should always plan for a little chaos. Make sure your packing list includes:
- Extra underwear
- A roll of quarters for emergency laundry stops
- Small kits for stains, spills and boo-boos
- Trash bags or wet-bags for big messes or potty-training accidents
Plan for frequent stops. Whether you’re heading for a specific destination or exploring a classic route, look for roadside rests, parks or other low budget attractions where you can take breaks along the way. Budget time for potty breaks and play breaks.
Most importantly, plan to work as a team. Make sure you and your spouse are clear about the divisions of labor. Make an effort to trade off driving versus sitting in the back entertaining the troops.
5 – Get Creative
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Still nervous about taking a trek with the kids? Ask your parents, friends or coworkers to share what worked—or didn’t work—for them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective” – an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Follow Kacey on social media: Twitter || Pinterest || Instagram ||