Not everyone finds a road trip to be an endearing way to bond, especially kids who would rather be anywhere than in the car. For those who are traveling with children, there's one question that many parents might be wondering: How on earth does one survive a long road trip with kids?
It's easy to understand how a road trip could be boring for kids who can't help but be restless after an hour in the car. For babies, the car is like a magic lullaby - to kids who are older and aware of their surroundings, a car ride is akin to punishment. Here's a guide for hacks on how to survive a long road trip with them, and actually, possibly, enjoy it.
Before The "Are We There Yet?" Starts, Anticipate The Needs Of Kids In The Car
There are a few things that parents and families can do in order to anticipate the needs of kids who are fussy in the car. One of those things involves the vehicle, itself. Renting a larger car (or a newer one) might just do the trick when it comes to room to spread out, access to technology, and comfort levels. While it does increase the cost of a road trip, renting a car allows for kids to have the entire backseat (or more) and might also provide the option of running multiple tablets, portable game devices, and more.
Additionally, new cars are usually more comfortable than older vehicles, which can do a surprising amount in regard to how much (or little) kids voice their unhappiness.
Another cheaper option is to invest in a portable trailer or a hard-shell case that can sit on top of the car to save space inside the car.
Food & Other Ways To Pass The Time
Rather than waiting to make a stop for food, anticipate that kids will be hungry by the time the car makes it to the third stoplight. A great tip for this is to use a box with multiple compartments, such as a plastic embroidery thread box, to store dry snacks. Some great things to fit in this include:
- Nut snacks
- Dried fruits such as raisins
- Chocolate chips
- Trail Mix
- Small cookies
For foods such as fruit slices, cheeses, and dried meats, plastic bags are perfectly sufficient and are easily passed around the car.
Make Smart Stops And Use Time Efficiently
A smart stop might include a green space or part over a rest stop because there's a chance for kids to get out and stretch their legs a bit. The idea of a scenic and quiet park over the parking lot of a rest stop is far more enticing. For a food stop, a drive-thru or packed snacks can make for a quick picnic lunch in the park where kids can run around for a bit before saddling back up in the car.
For parents who are really keen on this idea, it's easy enough to find parks along the driving route and mark them on the GPS prior to leaving. This also helps when it comes to giving kids an idea of how long the wait is before they can get out - and also gives them something to look forward to when they do!
Another good stop to make is a hotel. Some kids can go for eight hours in a car while others can only handle four, and it's important to know when the entire family is at their limit. A hotel for the night might be worth factoring in the extra travel day, and will only help the driver by allowing them to get more rest in between.
Consider In-Car Entertainment Besides Devices
While it's easy enough to pop a movie on a travel-sized DVD player, there are easier and more interactive things to do in the car when the movie ends. Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time, and they can be so easily accessed by any smartphone nowadays. Additionally, many of them are free or are free within a trial period of any audiobook app.
Another great idea is print-outs, which are still very much a blast for younger kids. Printing out a list of photos with license plates from every state is a great way to keep kids occupied, and there are many free print-outs of mazes, word games, and other fun paper-and-pen-based activities. If kids are young enough to still enjoy coloring, a tray table is helpful to balance on one's lap, while a file folder hung from the front seat headrests - or even shower caddies that can be stuck on the window - can easily hold crayons and colored pencils. Additionally, baking or serving trays can be used to hold books and other games that will be easily within reach!
Long road trips don't need to be a drag when traveling as a family - and these tips prove that they can be fun, simple, and far more stress-free than one might think.