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Road trips are wonderful and affordable ways to travel with your family. But, they can be difficult when you have kids. To help you conquer the hard parts, here are 14 simple tips that will improve your family road trips! These tips will be a game changer for you, I promise!
- Tip #1: Be strategic with your route and timing.
- Tip #2: Maximize your stops.
- Tip #3: Divide and conquer.
- Tip #4: Think through the trip when packing.
- Tip #5: Pack bags based on use.
- Tip #6: Use packing cubes.
- Tip #7: Pack a “Just in Case” bag.
- Tip #8: Give everyone space to call their own.
- Tip #9: Pack more snacks and entertainment than you think you need.
- Tip #10: Work with your family’s personalities.
- Tip #11: Take time to burn off some energy.
- Tip #12: Dress for comfort.
- Tip #13: Pack some surprises.
- Tip #14: Involve your kids.
Tip #1: Be strategic with your route and timing.
The best thing you can do to improve your family road trips is to be strategic when planning your route and timing. If you just pick a random time to leave and go, you will probably run into some difficulties along the way.
Instead, think about your route and find the most advantageous time to start your trip. Will you be driving through any big cities? If so, time it so you can avoid hitting them during rush hour. If you can’t do that, consider taking an alternative route to avoid the city.
If your kids don’t do well in the car, think about leaving during the middle of the night so they will sleep during the first several hours of the drive.
Tip #2: Maximize your stops.
Save time on your road trip and get to your destination faster by maximizing your stops. Eliminate the need to have to stop a lot by taking care of all your needs whenever you stop.
For instance, when you stop for food, go ahead and top off your gas, even if you aren’t close to empty. Make sure that everyone goes to the bathroom any time you stop.
By getting food and gas, and going to the bathroom at every stop, you can go further between stops and minimize the number of times you have to stop.
Tip #3: Divide and conquer.
One way to improve your family road trips is to divide and conquer your tasks whenever you stop. This will help you to get everything done and get back on the road quicker.
So, how do you do this? While one parent takes the kids to the bathroom, the other parent can fill up on gas. Have one adult order food, while another one takes the kids on a little walk. While you get the kids settled back in the car, your spouse can go to the bathroom.
This is one of my favorite tips for road trips. It is one that my husband and I use all the time!
Tip #4: Think through the trip when packing.
You can also improve your family road trips by simply packing better. In order to do this, think through the details and logistics of your trip when you begin packing.
Don’t just pack your bags and throw them all in the trunk or cargo area of your car. Instead, decide who will need the things you pack and when. This is how you pack your car for road trips like a pro.
If you are the keeper of the snacks, put all the snacks in one bag and put it near you in the car. If your kids fight over snacks, pack each of them their own snack bag and put them near their seats.
Put your kids’ entertainment for the drive in bags near them. This way, you won’t have to constantly be getting things out for them.
If you have a kid who has a tendency to get cold in the car, stick a blanket or sweatshirt where she can easily reach it while on the move.
Tip #5: Pack bags based on use.
This tip to improve your family road trips goes hand in hand with the previous one. Instead of packing one bag for each member of the family, pack them based on use.
Pack a snack bag, an entertainment bag, and an overnight bag with a change of clothes for everyone (if it will take you more than one day to reach your destination).
If you will be going to the beach while on your vacation, put everything you need for that in one bag. Then, you won’t have to search through several different suitcases to find everything you need.
Tip #6: Use packing cubes.
Another game changer move for traveling with your kids is to use packing cubes. This is such an easy way to keep your suitcases organized and make things easy to find.
Before I started using them, I didn’t get the hype. But, after I tried them, I was hooked! I won’t travel without them now!
Each person in my family has a set in a unique color. This allows my husband or son to easily find their clothes in the suitcase at a glance. It saves us so much time in the mornings when we are getting ready while on vacation.
I highly recommend getting and using packing cubes if you haven’t already! You will be glad you did!
I use Veken packing cubes. I love them. They are very durable and worth every penny!
Tip #7: Pack a “Just in Case” bag.
Sometimes, despite your best planning, things go wrong while on road trips. This could be anything from losing something in the car in the dark to someone getting car sick. To improve your family road trips, pack a “just in case” bag full of things to help in these situations.
My just in case bag includes paper towels, trash bags, baby wipes, one or two bottles of water, Febreze, a small first aid kit, a flashlight, Ziploc bags and some batteries.
This bag sometimes never gets used, but it is so nice to have it when something goes wrong. It allows you to quickly address the problem and get back on your way. It can also help keep the moods of your family from getting sour due to the problem!
Don’t forget to put your just in case bag in a convenient location in the car.
Tip #8: Give everyone space to call their own.
One of the biggest reasons I hear parents give for not wanting to take road trips with their kids is that they fight and bicker the entire time. My best tip to solve this issue and improve your family road trips is to give everyone their own space in the car.
I know this sounds impossible, but it’s really not. Just give each kid their own clearly defined space. Make it obvious where each one’s space starts and stops before you start your trip.
If you have two kids that don’t get along at home, put them as far apart as possible in the car. Use the third row in your car if you can. And if your car isn’t big enough to give everyone their own space, consider renting a bigger car for the trip.
Tip #9: Pack more snacks and entertainment than you think you need.
Sometimes, despite your best planning, you hit delays that cause you to be in the car longer than you originally planned. So, to be prepared, pack more snacks and entertainment than you think you will need for the trip.
Not only will this save you in case of delays, but it will also keep your kids from getting bored. And it will help you avoid fights over who gets to eat the last snack.
And don’t forget to pack a variety of snacks, as well as both high tech and low tech entertainment options.
Tip #10: Work with your family’s personalities.
Instead of going against the grain, work with your family’s personalities when planning out your road trip. If you know that your two-year-old will throw a fit if he’s in the car seat for longer than 2 hours, plan to stop every 2 hours.
If your husband has no patience for traffic, plan your route to avoid it as much as you can. Likewise, if your teens tend to fight over music choices, pack noise canceling headphones for each of them.
You know your family better than anyone. So, take their likes, dislikes, and tendencies into account. Plan your trip so you play to your family’s strengths and avoid their weaknesses. The more you do this, the better your trip will be.
Tip #11: Take time to burn off some energy.
Kids tend to have endless energy. This can make sitting in the car for long periods of time difficult. So, to help them with this and improve your family road trips in the process, give your kids time to burn off some energy each time you stop.
If you have time, head to a park and let them play for 20-30 minutes. Maybe consider stopping for a picnic lunch. If you are crunched for time, find a patch of grass at a gas station, and let them spin and hop for a few minutes.
At the very least, let your kids’ walk around a restaurant or store whenever your stop.
Try to make at least one stop each day long enough to allow your kids to really expend some energy. This will help you more than you realize.
Tip #12: Dress for comfort.
The more comfortable your kids are, the more relaxed and cooperative they will be. So, dress everyone for comfort while on the road.
This is not the time for cute outfits on your kids. Instead, put them in sweats, t-shirts, or even pajamas! When you arrive at your destination, then you can change them into the cute outfits.
Tip #13: Pack some surprises.
Another way to easily improve your family road trips is to pack (or plan) some surprises for the trip. These don’t have to be elaborate surprises. Even little gifts can be effective at controlling the meltdowns.
You can present your kids with a new gift every hour or as you pass through new states or cities. You could also plan some surprises along the way, such as stopping at playgrounds or roadside attractions that your kids aren’t expecting or surprising them with an ice cream stop during the drive.
Tip #14: Involve your kids.
Lastly, you can greatly improve your family road trips by involving your kids in the adventure. Don’t think of them as just passengers along for the ride. Let them be active participants in the whole process.
Let your kids help you plan your road trip. Ask them their opinions on where you should stop or where they would like to eat along the way. See if there is anything they would like to see during the drive.
Have them help you pack the snack and entertainment bags. Get them involved in packing up the car. Ask them where they want to sit.
The more you engage your kids in the process of your road trips, the more cooperative they will be. This alone with improve your family road trips!
Road trips are great ways for families to travel. To make yours more pleasant for everyone in your clan, use these tips to improve your family road trips! I know that you will soon love them as much as my family does!
For more road trip tips, see my tips for road trips with teens, ultimate guide to road trips, tips for road trips with babies and toddlers, and essential items for successful road trips with kids.
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