Tips for Roadtrips with Children

For those who are willing to try it, a road trip vacation with the kids will be a source of treasured, ever-lasting memories. But for a successful sojourn on the great open road, pre-planning must occur before putting the pedal to the metal.

Vehicle Maintenance Before the Road Trip

There’s some serious business that cannot be overlooked. It’s the not so fun but very important issue of vehicle maintenance. Have the car inspected and serviced. Check tire pressure, top up fluids, and have any suspicious noises checked out.

Keep an Emergency and First Aid Kit in the Trunk

Don’t leave home without emergency equipment. Things like windshield-wiper fluid, a flashlight, batteries and a first aid kit are mandatory. Kits should include at minimum: waterproof matches and candle, flashlight, road flares, whistle, blanket, first aid, towel, jumper cable, rope, cutting device (box cutter, pocket knife), duct tape, tool kit, gloves and water are a few suggestions.

Involve the Children in Planning Their Trip

Children are part of the experience so make sure to involve them. Use an atlas to find stops along the way that will interest them. Google pictures of the places you’re going to see. It will give them something to look forward to. Another idea is to provide each child with a survey — would they like to stop at an old fort, see sea lions, take a walk in the woods? Let each child select a stop for the family.

Entertainment for the Car Will Battle Boredom

Children do not have an accurate grasp of time. Minutes in boredom truly feels like hours. Be prepared to deal with the question and to help them combat the boredom. Consider both fun and comfort when bringing items that will help children pass time. Being strapped in a seat for a prolonged period of time is not easy for children. Ensure they have access to favourite items from home such as blankets and stuffed toys. Definitely bring along coloring books, colored pencils or markers. Crayons are not recommended because they can melt in a warm car.

Even parents who are not fans of electronic entertainment in the car may have to bend the rules for a long drive. A laptop works well. Children can share it to play games and watch movies. Don’t forget to purchase a battery charger too. It will help pass long hours on the road. Reading books, looking at pictures and card games also make the trip fun. Story tapes can be borrowed from the library. Choose stories everyone will enjoy. Some suggestions are the Narnia series, fairy tales, and sing-along songs. Pack an easily-accessible box of games and activities for the kids such as window stickers, loot bags filled with small surprises, travel puzzles, games and action figures to play with.

Plan to stop at places that will add fun and adventure along the way. Lunch can be a picnic and a quick game of catch or soccer. If there’s room bring a ball and baseballs gloves, Frisbee or rackets and ball. It’s a great way to burn some energy in a positive way. The last thing children want or need when they finally have the opportunity to venture out of the car is to sit at a restaurant table.

Snacks and Drinks in the Car

If this is something not normally allowed, the rules might have to be bent for a road trip. Bring plastic shopping bags bag for garbage and dump them out in the trash along the way. Avoid chocolate or sugary treats as they tend to melt and leave a mess. Plus, sugar-hyped children in a confined space is not a good thing. Consider instead low-sodium pretzels, animal crackers, fruit, raisins, and granola bars as options. Hungry children are invariably going to get grumpy so pack food that is fun and not too messy. Bring water bottles. They are perfect for quenching thirst and providing liquid for clean-ups. Speaking of clean-up, wet wipes, washcloths, towels, paper towels for cleaning up messes are a must.

Share the Drive with Teens

Teenagers with a license can share driving time. Make sure one parent is in the front passenger seat awake and alert at all times. Teen drivers give adults a break and give the teen driving experience.

Discuss the Rules of the Road Before the Vacation

Before embarking on the journey, write a set of car rules. Things like, keep hands to yourself… quiet voices…share…are simple rules but making them clear is important. A lack of rules invites misbehaviour. And if everyone behaves, promise a reward at the end of the drive.

Road Trips are About Making Memories

Even the worst road trips eventually become memories to laugh about later. Bring a camera and let children also take pictures. You’ll see your holiday from a totally new perspective. A successful road trip does depend on time invested in planning. So don’t be daunted, go ahead ang build those fantastic family memories. They will last a lifetime.