I love flying – but not always. Lately it has become so stressful to fly the not-so-friendly skies (think crowded planes and the constant fight to get seated next to your 4 year old) and it can be cost prohibitive, that road-trips are a great option. Don’t let the littles, demanding to know every 30-seconds ‘are we there yet’ put you off from what could be a memorable family adventure. With a few simple tips, I guarantee your family will look forward to the next road trip!
Tip: Know before you go. Before heading out on that multi-state road trip, make sure you know the different state laws for how your child should be legally restrained in a car. Car seat laws vary from state to state and the last thing you need is a ticket for non-compliance – that would be the ultimate road-trip downer. Check out the laws here: Child car-seat laws by state.
Don’t let car-sickness ruin your trip
First and foremost, plan for the expected: someone will get car-sick. It happens and it’s awful. If you have a kid that is prone to car-sickness, look for over the counter medicine such as children’s Dramamine. Don’t go over that mountain pass unprepared. You want to view the scenery, not clean up juice and crackers your child regurgitated. I keep Hyland’s homeopathic motion sickness tablets in my car for emergencies. For older kids, ginger candy not only makes for a great treat but curbs that queasy tummy.
Tip: Always keep wet-wipes and plastic baggies (the kind for diapers and picking up doggie poop) in your car. They come in handy more than you think.
Remember the days of paper or am I dating myself? We all love our gadgets and awesome travel apps (check out my latest fave: Waze), but what happens when you are lost and suddenly you have no service? Doh! That awesome travel app which needs a connection is no longer so awesome. Bring an atlas. Plus, kids love maps. Let them help find point A or B or C. You can highlight your route and it’s fun to see the progress you have made (or not made….).
Tip: Make sure your atlas is current. You might actually still have your parents’ old atlas they used with all the wonderful notes and highlighted routes. Although it’s pretty cool to thumb through, I am hear to tell you, it’s outdated and you will get lost. Splurge and get the most current edition.
Talk to your kids about where you are going
Before you start your trip, talk to your kids about where you are going. Kids love to know what is happening and what to expect. This applies even if they have been to the destination before. Research fun activities to do when you arrive and let each person pick something they want to see or do.
Tip: Along the way, pick flowers, leaves or even grass and press them into a journal. It’s a fun way to remember what they have seen and where they have been. Maybe find some pinecones and make them into Christmas ornaments when you return. This is a fun way to preserve your memories for many years.
Bring Games & Toys & Gadgets
To keep the ‘are we there yet’ question at bay, be sure to bring coloring books, crayons, portable electronics, and maybe a few new toys as a surprise. Also, don’t forget to pack that favorite blankie or binkie unless you want to use the road trip as a weaning trip…
Here is a list of our favorite games & toys for road trips:
- LeapPad Ultra: One of the best investments I made was the LeapPad Ultra. My kids love them and the apps are educational. They are virtually kid proof and they have apps for every age group. Plus, I don’t have to worry about them destroying my expensive tablet. LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra/Ultra XDI Kids’ Learning Tablet, Green (styles may vary)
- Wikki Stik: I wish I invented these simply brilliant colored wax sticks! Wikki Stik just rock. Bonus: there is NO MESS and they are re-usable. Your kids will be entertained for hours (ok..maybe not hours…but for a long time..) with these non-toxic wax-like sticks. They come in a range of colors that can be twisted, bent and shaped into virtually anything. They are recommended for ages 3 and over. Wikki Stix Big Count Box
- Twist Up Crayons: Have you heard the cries of frustration when a crayon breaks or needs sharpening? I have and I don’t like it. Try the Twist Up Crayons by Crayola! They don’t break and don’t need sharpening. Absolutely brilliant! Crayola 18ct Twistables Colored Pencils
- Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Trays: Nothing is more frustrating for a kid when their toys or snacks fall onto the floor and for the parent that has to unbuckle the seat belt, twist around into the back seat, retrieve the wandering item and pray the car doesn’t crash…you know you have been in this situation…We have the Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Trays and they are worth their weight in gold in my opinion. They provide a flat, safe area to eat and play without everthing falling on the floor. Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Tray, Patented
Tip: Make sure your electronics are charged before you leave and you have the appropriate chargers or necessary batteries.
Advanced Tip: Make sure to bring healthy snacks and drinks and keep them in an easy-to-reach location.
Try to break the day up
If you have a long day of driving, make sure you stop every few hours to stretch your legs. It’s tempting to put that car on cruise control and not stop. But let the kids run around for a bit, stop and read a historical sign or take a picnic lunch in a scenic area. Take some pictures so you can document your adventures. Everyone will be much happier in the long run.
Don’t drive when you are tired
If your road trip will consist of an overnight, I recommend planning your stop ahead of time. Don’t let your eyelids start drooping with miles until the next town. Nothing is worse than being super tired and trying to find a hotel at the last minute. Often hotels are sold out during peak travel times and you will pay more as a walk-in. On road trips I like to pick hotels that have heated indoor pools, free breakfasts and comfy beds. If you have AAA, don’t forget to ask for a discount!
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