Let’s hit the road. A family road trip is filled with new sights, car games, family time, and probably a little too much “mom” being called out from the back of the van. Organize your car so kids can help themselves. It creates independence and fewer interruptions of your car trip book.
Pack the Backpack: Kids are better travelers when they are entertained. Yes, this is true but that doesn’t mean we need to keep them busy the whole time. Each traveler can pack a backpack with their entertainment for the trip. Mom and dad are welcome to make suggestions but let the kids decide what will be the most fun for the car ride. There can be limits…has to fit in the back pack and can’t be messy are a couple of my favorites. The kids love to play on their electronics and watch movies during the drive. This is a great way to pass the time. But make sure you give the kids time with the electronics off. A good road trip has activity time, movie time and an opportunity to experience our beautiful country while staring out the window.
Snacks: Car trips are a great time to have special snacks. A homemade “car trip” trail mix is not only nutritional but also a great memory for kids as they grow up. When the kids are little, mom is typically the snack dispenser. As the kids get a little older, let them have snacks in their own bag. You can do this by giving the kids a morning round of snacks, that they can eat any time, and then distributing the afternoon round later. This helps them manage it and keep you free from being the dispenser.
Stops: We can shoot for the iron butt award, or we can take a little time to enjoy the drive. You can decide what kind of experience you want and when you do, communicate it to the whole family. If this is going to be a “Let’s get to Grandma’s as fast as we can” kind of trip, then everyone in the car needs to know that. If you have a little time, make the stops and enjoy the journey. A welcome center will have brochures and flyers for all sorts of things to do while visiting. You may not be able to fit it all in but you will learn a lot about what the state you’re entering into has to offer for fun.
Mess management: The car and kids can get quite messy on a road trip. Keep hand wipes and possibly paper towels in the car to help with clean up. Make it super simple to keep the car clean by keeping a trash bag near the kids. Before each stop, have the kids get their shoes on and collect all the trash. If you have a trash bag in the back of the van, it makes it super easy for the kids to keep trash picked up. Empty the trash at each stop helps keep the car a little less messy.
Safety: An emergency car kit is a must have for any car trip. Items to include are a first aid kit, road flares, rain ponchos, jumper cables, and flashlight. You can add other items you would like to include and possibly some seasonal items if needed. Always have a few extra bandaids for scrapped knees and elbows that kids typically get when they run around in unfamiliar places.