We all dream of the perfect family vacation. However, things don’t always go as planned. While it’s true that family trips can make memories that last a lifetime, it’s also true that they can be stressful – especially without the right preparation. The good news? There are some things you can do to make sure your trip is as smooth as possible – even before you reach your destination.
Follow these six tips to help make sure your family road trip gets off to the best possible start.
Stock up on snacks
Anyone who’s ever set out on a long car ride only to hear a tiny voice from the backseat pipe up with, “I’m hungry,” knows how frustrating it can be. Avoid ending up in this scenario by packing plenty of snacks to keep little hands busy and bellies full.
In addition to healthy snacks like protein bars, sliced fresh fruit, trail mix and cheese and crackers, consider including a few special snacks that might usually be on the forbidden list.
Some tips for keeping things organised? Pack snacks into individual containers and dole them out throughout the trip. Also, hang garbage bags over each of the seatbacks to keep things clean as you go.
Invest in entertainment
New toys have new allures. While bringing along some favourite books, toys and electronics makes sense, we also like buying one or two new items – preferably ones the kids haven’t ever seen before – for the trip. From the latest book to a video game your child has been eyeing for a while, you’ll guarantee hours of happy play for your kids and peace and quiet for you.
Just make sure you’ve got something that appeals to each kid in their own way. Otherwise, you risk ending up starting a feud over one, especially in-demand toy.
Divide and conquer
Children are active and social creatures, which is one reason why long car rides can be so torturous to them. If you’re travelling with multiple grown-ups, taking turns spending some time in the backseat can be a novelty for kids. And if you’re travelling with more than one child, the presence of an adult can be an invaluable buffer and defence against the dreaded, “Mom, she’s looking out my window!”
Plus, why wait to start the family bonding until you arrive at your destination? Hopping in the backseat is an opportunity to spend some quality time together while you’re on the road.
Plan out pit stops
While you’d like to get there as quickly as possible in a perfect world, a world with children is not always perfect. As a preventative measure against bored meltdowns, map out your trip ahead of time to identify a few timely pit stops.
From children’s museums to local landmarks, you’ll find plenty to see and do along the way. Even a stop at a neighbourhood park for a quick game of frisbee can go a long way to keep kids happy. Plus, little bodies need to be moving, so why not tire them out with some fresh air and exercise? Planning stops ahead of time can also help you avoid unnecessary detours for bathroom breaks.
An ancillary benefit of stopping on the road? You won’t just pass the time; everything you experience becomes an educational opportunity for young minds.
Keep things comfy
For that matter, a car’s back seat – or front seat – is not the most comfortable place. And the longer you’re stuck there, the worse it feels. However, a long car ride doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a medieval torture chamber. Bring along plenty of pillows and blankets to help keep things as cosy as possible and make sure your kiddos are dressed in their favourite comfy clothes as well. We also recommend investing in kid’s neck pillows, which provide softness and support.
The adage, “Music soothes the savage beast,” more than holds true on long car trips. We’re not calling your kids beasts (we’ll leave that to you to make the call), but we do think music has unique powers to keep things fun. Create a special road trip playlist with favourite family tunes that everyone can agree on.
Audiobooks are also an excellent way to keep everyone entertained while also providing a brain boost. With the right one on hand, any seemingly endless stretch of highway can be transformed into an adventure.
With these six tips, you can lay the groundwork for happier trails. While we can’t promise you that things will go off without a hitch, we can assure you that planning ahead can help minimise stress and maximise fun. So get packing!