Photo Credit: Getty ImagesIf your family has to take a road trip this summer, you'll already be in a foul mood after gassing up your vehicle of choice. If you have kids, you know they're going to get antsy and wiggley and annoying along some stretch of highway.
What you need is the lowdown on Family Road Trip Survival. I can't guarantee that you won't be annoyed at some point on your ride. But hopefully it will be due to some random joker who cuts you off instead of your kids asking you "Are we there yet?" a gazillion times.
Here's what you should know about family road trips:
- Plan on stopping often. You may have been thinking you could drive for three hours straight but seriously, that little one strapped in a car seat needs a diaper change. Or the kid in the booster seat needs to shake the sillies out. Plan on stopping every 90 minutes. And in an ideal world, you should see if those pit stops occur near a town with a cute park for your kid(s) to play in.
- Bring food and drinks. Boxed juices and bottled water are a must for road trips, as are plenty of snacks and easy to eat sandwiches. I bring a boxed drink/water for every hour on the road per kid and picnic-style noshes: sliced apples, raisins, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, yogurt, pretzels, you get the idea. Snacks that everyone in the car digs. You should also pack some special treats -- snacks that your kids love but only get to see on special occcasions...like, say, those small bags of Teddy Grahams or tiny boxes of cereal. Normally you'd hand the kids their own lunchbox to keep with them. But for roadtrips, keep all the snacks in your possession so you can doll them out when the kids.
Have a stash of small toys/activities and games. Hit your local Target or other toy store and find some small toys that your kids can play with in the car. The "new factor" goes a long way with kids. For little kids: activity/sticker books, washable crayons and a drawing pad, tiny toys and cars. For older kids: Playing cards, car bingo, I-Spy. Portable products from LeapFrog, like the LeapPad and Leapster are awesome for road trips. And if you're planning on stopping at some parks along the way, have a few sand toys for the kids. A small bucket and shovel is plenty. You should also check out these road trip game ideas over at Parent Hacks.
- Pack Books. You can never go wrong with books. Let your child pick out some favorite books to bring for the trip. The key is to make sure they are books that don't require mom or dad to read...no need for parental car sickness.
- Listen to audiobooks. I am a huge fan of children's audiobooks for long car rides. Whether it's Thomas the Tank Engine, Harry Potter or classics like Charlotte's Web and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I find that kids become entranced by the storytelling. It's so calming and civilized. They have been known to lull many child -- of all ages -- asleep.
- Bring a Kids' Road Atlas. Preempt the "Are we there yet?" dialogue by teaching your child how to decipher a this cool Kid' Road Atlas. Older kids can play the games in the book while younger kids will be mesmerized by the fun photos and maps.
You'll notice I didn't include a portable DVD player. My reason is simple...there's plenty to see if a child looks out the window. That's part of fun of a family road trip. But that's just me. If your kids like to watch movies on the road, go for it.
What are some of your road trip survival tips?
[UPDATED: If you want some more tips for family road travel, check out this post over at Momformation. Another mom who doesn't use a portable DVD in her car.]