Over the five years of my marriage, my husband and I have taken several long road trips. we joke that we are the ideal road trip team; we even have a system set up for who gets to choose the music that's on and who is in charge of snack distribution. Once we added children into the mix, we didn't let us stop our fun or our family outings. With our kids in tow, we’ve visited Williamsburg and Denver, and we’ve tackled several trips to visit my family. Each of those trips is four to six hours one-way. You might say that we're road trip experts! With that in mind, I have a few pro-tips to share with you hopefully these will be helpful for the upcoming holiday season if you're planning on driving to visit family.
Plan To Make Stops On Your Roadtrip
Plan several pit-stops into your trip. This is probably the most frustrating part of taking road trips with small children because it extends your travel time by quite a significant amount. probably so stopping every 2 hours on a 6-hour trip actually adds an entire hour to the ordeal. Use those pit stops to get out of the car do some stretches and if you got a toddler get them out of the car and let them run around. There's a really amazing app I recommend called Roadtrippers; it helps you find attractions like museums, parks, rest stops, and more within your set parameters. If you don't want to travel more than 3 miles off your main course, you can filter search results through that lens. We use Roadtrippers to help us find rest stops and parks where our kids can run around and soak up some sunshine. Every pit stop involves diaper changes, bathroom breaks, and a refresher on snacks and drinks.
Bring Books And Toys In The Car
Don't forget to bring toys and books with you. the Navigator can even read books from the front seat - my toddler loves this storytelling time! I also recommend bringing water wow or color Wonder books depending on your child's age. Their mess-free ways to allow your kids and creativity while they're strapped into their car seat. Puzzles, trucks, dolls, and quiet books are great options as well. What's even better is that these toys can keep your kid busy while you're in the car and also when you reach your destination. Pro tip: leave toys that make noise at home. You’ll thank me later.
Pack The Best Roadtrip Snacks
This is my second favorite pro-tip for road trips and it's something that my family has done since I was a child: pack a cooler. Even if it's only a few hours, packing a cooler will help you cut down on money spent and on time wasted at pit stops. Bringing your own drinks from home and making sure that they stay cold is a huge plus! In terms of kid-friendly snacks for longer trips, I recommend bringing fresh vegetables, sandwich makings, and even fruits. Bananas, apples, and grapes are all fairly car-friendly. Having snacks on hand helps you avoid a stop when someone gets hungry; you can know that your kids are still eating healthy foods.
Start Your Roadtrip At Night
If that’s my second-favorite tip, my absolute favorite is: leave at night! this one is really only doable if your schedule allows and if you have a partner to share the drive. my husband and I tend to leave right before our dinner time. After they eat dinner, our kids fall asleep in the car and then sleep through the night as we drive to our destination. This is a huge Time Saver because when we stopped to use the restroom or get more fuel, we’re not dragging kids in and out of the car every time. Let them sleep - and take turns with your driving buddy. We once managed an overnight trip to Williamsburg this way. My toddler only got fussy and annoyed with his car seat in the last hour. It worked beautifully!
Take A Break From Driving Long Distances
Finally, give yourself permission to take a break. If you aren't used to driving long distances or your kids aren't what don't behave well in the car then schedule in an overnight stop somewhere at a hotel, or with your family members or a friend. At the very least, get out of the car to stretch your legs. At the very least give yourself a break in the middle of your trip where your kids can only get out of the car but you can actually spend some time having fun together as a family. breaking up your day like that can make the trip seem a lot shorter because it's not just non-stop rubber meets the road. Even the closest family is can get Cabin Fever on long car rides.
I wish you all the best in your upcoming holiday travels! I hope that you arrive safely with your kids riding safely in their car seats and that no one loses their patience with those awful (insert not-your-state here) drivers. Most importantly, I hope you embrace the old-fashioned family road trip as a great way to make memories together.
Tell me about your most memorable family road trip on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #FamilyRoadTrip.