It takes a brave parent to drive for hours or even days with a bunch of kids in the back singing “Are we there yet?” over and over again. But road trips with the family don’t have to be stressful. With a little planning and preparation, the trip could even be better than your final destination. Are you ready to drive? Here are 12 tips for travelling with kids by car.
Plan Outfits Ahead Of Time
With long days on the road, late nights, and early mornings, you want to pack well so that changing everyone into their pyjamas at night and into clean clothes the next morning is easy.
Packing cubes make it easy to organize clothes. Give each family member a different colour packing cube and put things in order so they are easy to find. Put all the tops in one cube, all the underwear in another, all the bottoms in another, and so on. To keep the rest of the clothes clean, shoes should also have their cube. You could also pack outfits that go together and label each one with the child’s name and the day it should be worn.
Pack A Potty
If you have a child between the ages of two and four, pack a small travel potty so that bathroom breaks are quick and easy. This is why you should bring a lot of plastic bags and baby wipes.
Be Prepared For Play
No matter what time of year, kids are usually happy to swim in a hotel pool, at the beach, or in a river. Pack a splash bag with a swimsuit, hat, towel, sunscreen, and a wet bag for each child, and make sure it’s easy to get to in the trunk. You’ll be ready to go for a quick swim at any time without having to unpack the car. When you’re done, you can get back on the road without having to worry about your wet things. Using the best beach cart can help with this.
Save money on laundry by bringing old, worn-out clothes that are almost ready to be thrown away. If clothes get stained or damaged, they can be thrown away or recycled.
Keep Your Phone Charged
Service stations and other conveniences can be hard to find on the open road, so it’s best to be ready for anything. Packing these useful items will save you time and trouble: extra batteries and chargers for tablets and phones, which you can fill with kid-friendly movies; a first aid kit with medicine for motion sickness; baby wipes; hand sanitiser for restrooms along the way; a stash of dog poop bags or nappy sacks to hold gross things like apple cores or dirty wipes; and a garbage bag.
Don’t Forget The Basics
It’s always a good idea to have a spare tire. It’s also helpful to know the number for roadside emergencies. Think about the route you want to take. Will you be driving in bad weather, like snow? If so, bring antifreeze, de-icer, and blankets for the kids. Need car seats or boosters for your kids? If you plan to rent a car for your road trip, make sure the rental company has the car seat you need, and check the laws of the country you’re visiting to make sure you’re following the rules.
Make Sure Everyone Is Fed
It can’t be said enough. Bring food, food, and more food. Bring twice as much as you think you’ll need. Everyone gets hungry on a road trip, even if they just ate breakfast. When kids are high on sugar and stuck in a car for hours, everyone gets headaches. Pack food that is healthy and low in sugar. Dry snacks like rice crackers, rice cakes, popcorn, nuts, and protein bars are great because they won’t go bad during the whole trip.
Take Basic Food Prep Tools
Pack some basic tools for preparing food, like a knife, a peeler, travel cutlery, and reusable containers. These will help you prepare, store, and transport food quickly. You can also make picnic lunches with this basic set, which saves money and time at rest stops and makes it easier to eat well.
Shop Before You Go
Stop at a grocery store right before you get to your place of stay to eat less fast food. Stock up on food for that night, breakfast the next morning, and the trip the next day. When booking a room or vacation rental, a kitchen, kitchenette, microwave, or fridge are important extras to think about. This will help you save money on food and feed picky eaters more easily. Even if your room only has a microwave and a fridge, you can make simple meals like porridge or mac and cheese.
Stay Healthy While Driving
On a road trip, it can be hard to eat enough fruit and vegetables. Fill a cold bag with individual servings of canned fruit, apples, vegetable sticks, hummus, string cheese, and frozen yogurt pouches. Make simple sandwiches for a picnic with a loaf of whole-grain bread, cheese, avocado, and tomatoes from the store.
Plan your trip and find places to stop along the way that will be fun for both you and the kids. Look online before you go to find playgrounds, parks, beaches, kid-friendly cafes, museums, wildlife parks, and other places that will make each stop more than just a bathroom break. To get an early start, you could put the kids in the car before they wake up in the morning and drive for a few hours while they’re still sleeping.
Keep kids from getting bored with a little work and some family car games. I Spy is always a hit, but you could also try travel bingo, 20 questions, the license plate game (if you’re driving across the US), or the memory game “I’m going on a picnic.” Kids can also play games with paper and pencils, such as connect the dots, consequences, and tic-tac-toe.
Pack a bag with travel board games, cards, a few toys and activity books, notebooks and crayons, and a ball or Frisbee for when you stop. Avoid things like slime and Play-Doh that could ruin the inside of your car.
And finally, don’t forget the music! When you’re on the road, it’s a great time to show your kids your favourite music. Load up your devices with songs or audiobooks that the whole family will enjoy, and stream them through the car’s entertainment system.
Learn As You Go
Taking your kids on road trips is a great way to teach them about the world. Giving kids maps and activity sheets helps them learn about the places you’re going and keeps them interested in the day-to-day trip. Creative parents can make a simple map with landmarks for their kids to look for along the way or a custom road trip bingo sheet with things to check off.
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