Planning a road trip with kids may sound crazy, but it’s not as bad as it sounds if you do a little planning and research ahead of time!
Start talking about the road trip a few weeks before you plan on leaving. Yes, the kids will probably say “is it time to go on the road trip yet?” about a million times in that few weeks, but it’s best to have them prepared. Talk about where you will go, what you will see, and what you will do. Also talk about the fact that you will be in the car for a lonnnng time and let them know you need their cooperation to make this fun!
Packing surprises for the road is a great idea. Bring a few games and snacks that the kids know about, but also bring a secret stash to keep them excited. The first meltdown of the trip will probably be less than an hour in, depending on the ages of your kids – and it may surprise you who is doing the melting. After 356 “are we there yet?!”, you may be ready to jump out the window. However, keeping them entertained will be much easier if you pack enough fun stuff!
* Bring some special snacks – like fruit snacks, or bananas, or whatever they prefer to snack on (try to skip foods they could easily choke on!). For a last ditch effort, pack some chocolate or something they REALLY love…
* Games, games, games! Check out Pinterest for printable road trip game ideas. If the kids aren’t old enough to write, they can still play “I Spy” with you.
* Pack a ball, jump rope, and some bubbles to play with at rest stops. Many rest stops also have maps and brochures, which many kids love! Pick them up at one stop, recycle them at the next, and get some more.
* Don’t forget music! If your vehicle doesn’t have a CD player, consider stocking your phone with upbeat songs that the kids will enjoy singing along to.
* Oh, and baby wipes. Lots of baby wipes. And trash bags. I probably don’t have to tell you that, but kids get messy – fast (especially when you’re bribing them with chocolate ).
If your kids are younger, you may have to stop as often as every 2 or 3 hours to avoid meltdowns. If you want to drive straight through (or at least for more than a few hours at a time), consider making the drive over night.
Instead of stopping at a fast food joint and going through the drive through, pack sandwich items and eat at a rest stop (or a park!). Let the kids get out and stretch and enjoy their meal.
Try not to rush. Take your time and enjoy the trip. Remember, you’re creating memories – for you, and for them. You want road trips to be positive ones!
Wait until the next day to unpack… just let everyone unwind and take it all in when you get home. After the road trip, talk about how much fun you had – and start planning the next one!