Before starting a family, the thought of a road trip conjured images of adventure and rocking out to your favorite band. Now, you think about getting hit in the head with a flying shoe originating from the back seat. Repeatedly.
So, how do you conquer a road trip with the kids without losing your mind?
Ah, there are ways. Wise parents who have gone before us have handed down tips for generations. Consider this post a quick summary of all that sage advice. Here are the best-of-the-best techniques for surviving a road trip with kids:
Rule #1: Bring snacks (and lots of them!)
If you’re worried about the kids behaving, you don’t even want to think about being locked in a car with a toddler and two hangry pre-teens. Make sure you have enough snacks to get you from your starting point to your destination.
Rule #2: Keep them occupied
Do you need a planned activity for every kilometer? No. Would it save your sanity? Maybe. You know how quickly your kids get bored. So, plan more activities than you think you’ll need. You can plan family games, coloring time and fun quizzes. You can even plan for a movie or electronics hour. When the kids are busy, they aren’t getting into trouble or asking, “are we there yet?”
Rule #3: Get organized and stay that way
All planning and preparation is lost when you can’t find where you put the snacks or road trip game. None of it matters anymore. Poor organisation can thwart even the best-made plans.
Get a back-seat organizer to hold things like snacks, electronics and coloring books. And make frequent trips to the trash to keep the car clear during your trip.
Rule #4: Make sure you have enough space
Regardless of what kind of vehicle you have, road trips are close quarters. So, if you have a Fiat and three kids, you may want to rent a new SUV for the week. The added expense isn’t ideal, but the extra room and comfort will go a long way towards keeping the peace in the back seat.
Rule #5: Ensure the car’s ready
Often forgotten is the vehicle that will transport you and the kids to your ultimate destination. Most people spend the majority of their prepping time figuring out what gets packed into the car, instead of whether or not it’ll be able to handle the journey. Take your car to the mechanic at least a week before to be inspected for any major issues that might pop up far away from home. Also, if your car is leased, make sure that your contract allows for enough miles/kilometers so that you don’t earn a penalty. Never forget that prepping the vehicle is just as important as everything else!
Rule #5: Bring your own entertainment
Too many parents make the mistake of spending the entire road trip as referee between the kids. By the end, the parents are so frazzled that they’re ready to snap. This isn’t a good end-game for anyone involved. Instead, spend some time focusing on yourself. Bring earphones to watch your favourite show or listen to an audiobook. Just please don’t watch television while driving. A distracted driver may be the only thing worse than a frazzled parent.
Rule #6: Take adequate breaks
We all want to get to our destinations in record time, but that’s not what’s most important here. On this road trip, we’re focused on survival, so take as many breaks as you need. You know your kids and how they handle being in the car. Regardless of age, some kids are good at it and others don’t like being cooped up. If your kids are getting antsy, take a short break. Breaking at the right time might help avoid fights and meltdowns that could ruin an otherwise stellar trip.
What are your best tips for conquering a road trip with kids?