Hey there, fellow road trip enthusiast and super-mum! If you're planning a family road trip with your little ones in tow, you might be feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. Don't worry; I’ve got your back! I've been there, done that, and I’m here to share some tried-and-true tips and hints for making your journey smooth, enjoyable, and full of cherished memories. So, buckle up and let's embark on this adventure together!
- Plan ahead, but be flexible
Planning is the key to a successful road trip with kids. Map out your route, make a list of essential stops, and calculate travel times. However, remember that kids are unpredictable. Be prepared to deviate from your plans if needed. Maybe they'll spot an interesting roadside attraction, or perhaps they'll need an unscheduled restroom break. Flexibility is your best friend.
- Pack like a pro
Packing for a road trip is an art form. Start with the essentials: nappies, wipes, wet bags, car seat protectors, baby food, snacks, extra clothes, and blankets. Don't forget your child's favourite comfort items, like a stuffed animal or blankie. For older kids, consider their entertainment needs. Portable devices, colouring books, and check out our free travel-friendly games, can be a lifesaver.
- Stay organized with travel kits
Create individual travel kits for each child. These kits can include snacks, drinks, and activities tailored to their age and interests. Having everything within arm's reach will help you avoid meltdowns and make the journey more pleasant for everyone.
- Timing is everything
Plan your departure and return times strategically. If your kids have regular nap schedules, try to align your driving hours with their sleep patterns. This will give you some quiet, peaceful stretches on the road. Also, avoid rush hour traffic whenever possible; less traffic means less stress.
- Safety first
Ensure your vehicle is in good working order before hitting the road. Check the car seats to make sure they're properly installed and adjusted for your child's size. Seat belts, booster seats, and infant carriers should be in perfect working condition. Safety should always be a top priority.
- Frequent pit stops
Kids have boundless energy and small bladders. Plan for frequent pit stops to stretch little legs and use the restroom. Some rest areas even have playgrounds where your kids can burn off some steam. These breaks are a great opportunity for a quick snack or picnic.
- Snack attack
Pack a variety of snacks, both healthy and indulgent. Fruit, muesli bars, and cheese sticks are excellent choices, but don't forget to include a few treats like gummy bears or chocolate chips. Snacks are not only for sustenance but also for distraction during those long stretches of driving.
- Entertainment galore
Preload your devices with their favourite movies, music, and apps. Audiobooks are a fantastic way to keep kids engaged and entertained while also nurturing their love for stories. You can also play road trip games like "i spy, " "20 questions, " or "license plate bingo." Check out our free downloadable travel games here.
- Music matters
Create a road trip playlist that includes your kids' favourite songs, as well as some family-friendly tunes. Sing-alongs can turn a mundane drive into a memorable bonding experience.
- Engage and educate
Turn the journey into an educational adventure. Encourage your kids to observe the changing landscapes, identify different vehicles, and learn about the places you're visiting. A simple map can help them understand the route and geography.
- Stay comfortable
Comfort is essential for both you and your little ones. Dress your kids in layers so you can adjust their clothing as the temperature changes. Bring cozy blankets and pillows for naps or snuggles.
- Embrace the scenic route
Don't be afraid to take detours and explore scenic byways. Some of the most beautiful places can be found off the beaten path. Plus, it breaks up the monotony of the highway and adds an element of adventure to your trip.
- Capture the moments
Document your journey with photos and videos. These memories will be treasured for years to come. Encourage your kids to take their own photos and share their perspective of the trip.
- Travel potty essentials
If you're traveling with potty-training toddlers, consider bringing a portable travel potty or a disposable potty seat. This can be a lifesaver when there are no rest areas in sight. Remember your kids car seat protector if they are early days into undies.
- Be mindful of motion sickness
Some kids are prone to motion sickness. If that's the case, pack some anti-nausea medication and avoid heavy or greasy meals before the trip. Opening windows for fresh air can also help alleviate symptoms. Take some plastic bags or a bowel – its much better to be prepared. Also take some Snazzi wet bags to pack any soiled clothing in.
- Plan breaks around meals
Coordinate your rest stops with meal times to minimize the hassle of dining on the road. You can pack a picnic or research family-friendly restaurants along your route. Avoid messy, hard-to-eat foods and opt for kid-friendly options.
- Embrace routine
Maintaining some semblance of your daily routine can provide comfort and stability for your kids during the trip. Stick to regular mealtimes and bedtimes as closely as possible.
- Be patient and stay positive
Road trips with kids can be challenging, but they're also an opportunity for bonding and adventure. Stay patient, keep a positive attitude, and remind yourself that the journey is just as important as the destination. Your children will feed off your energy.
- Safety first, again
Always double-check that your child is safely secured in their car seat or booster seat before starting the car. Ensure they have proper head support, seatbelt placement, and that there are no loose objects in the car that could become projectiles in case of sudden stops.
- Embrace unplugged moments
While devices and screens can be a lifesaver, it's also crucial to encourage unplugged moments during the trip. Use these times to talk, play games, or simply enjoy the scenery together.
- Teach responsibility
If you have older kids, involve them in some aspects of the trip planning and execution. They can help with navigation, packing, and decision-making. This not only eases your workload but also teaches them valuable life skills.
- Plan for emergencies
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Pack a basic first-aid kit, flashlight, spare batteries, and any necessary medications. Share your travel itinerary with a trusted friend or family member, and make sure you have emergency contact information readily available.
- Keep the peace
Squabbles among siblings are almost inevitable during a road trip. Try to defuse tension by offering small rewards for good behaviour or cooperation. A simple "i spy" challenge or a snack break can often work wonders.
- Celebrate milestones
Every mile you cover is an achievement, especially with kids in tow. Celebrate milestones along the way, whether it's reaching a particular landmark, crossing state lines, or simply making it through a challenging stretch of the journey.
- Post-trip reflection
Once you've returned home, take some time to reflect on your road trip. Encourage your kids to share their favourite memories, and consider creating a scrapbook or photo album together. This can be a wonderful way to relive the adventure.
We used to buy school exercise books and after the trip, the kids would stick in photos, ticket stubs and postcards bought along the way etc. They were great to take to school or pre-school for show and tell.
Remember, the journey can be as much fun as the destination is well planned and thought out in advance.