We all love kids but know that they can be a handful, sometimes at the most-inopportune time. One such scenario is during road trips – such excursions are meant to be enjoyable experiences for everyone involved, but there’s always a certain risk of frustration. That’s why there are actions parents or other adults can take beforehand to ensure that their next road trip with children is indeed full of fun memories for all.
For the most part, this list was compiled with a longer journey in mind. However, even adults who are tasked with commuting with children daily are sure to find information contained therein that will make the rides safer and more pleasurable.
Tips for Road Trips with Kids
Plan Rest Stops in Advance: With the benefit of modern technology, we can now plan road trips, down to minute detail, more effortlessly than in the past. So take advantage of the situation by knowing in advance where preferred rest stops are situated, the distances between them, etc., especially in the case of bathroom emergencies.
Plan Out Meals as Well: Thinking about all the different fast-food joints you’ll pass on a road is definitely tempting. But such excursions also provide an ample opportunity to try new foods, especially those of the healthier variety. And having prior knowledge of preferable establishments which can provide such meals can be very-advantageous.
Pack a Lunchbox: This tip goes especially for drinks, snacks, etc. – items that you don’t want to be stopping for every single time someone stomach tingles. A well-fed traveler is a happy traveler. And it wouldn’t hurt to pack a few of the kids’ favorite treats, if for nothing else than perhaps as a peace offering if they start disturbing on the road.
Know the Quality of Phone Reception of the Areas You’re Going To: Ideally nothing would occur that requires any type of emergency assistance during a road trip. But, in taking for granted that you are going to be dependent on a cellphone, if you are venturing into a remote area you’re not totally familiar with, it would be advisable to know how well the phone reception works in those localities, which telecommunication networks are stronger there, etc. Or if nothing else make sure you remain within reasonable proximity of a place where, if there is not any phone reception, you can get proper assistance promptly in case of an unforeseen calamity.
Check the Weather Forecast: Bad weather has the potential to spoil any excursion. And no one wants to be stuck in a car during say a thunderstorm with children in tow. So get a proper weather forecast for the location you are headed. Properly ascertaining such information should only take a few minutes at most.
Don’t Drive While Exhausted or Distracted: Let’s be frank – people tend to take risks on the road, such as driving while tired. And whereas this may be deemed acceptable under some circumstances, it definitely isn’t so when children are involved. So ideally, if you are planning a longer excursion there should be two licensed drivers involved, so that one can take the wheel when the other needs a break.
Car Maintenance: When preparing for a road trip, especially those where children are involved, it’s easy to overlook what is actually one of the most important factors, which is the health of the car. That means if it has been a long time since your vehicle was last serviced or if it has been giving you warning signs of late, now, before the trip actually begins, would be a good time to get those issues rectified.
Road Trip Activities for Kids
Group activities which everyone in the vehicle can engage in are recommended during road trips. Indeed parents often call for such excursions to encourage intermingling. And whereas conventional group activities may not work in a setting where you’re traveling at 70 mph, there are many creative ideas for activities centered on appeasing children while on the road.
Handheld Devices (for the Kids)
Children tend to be less-troublesome when their minds are preoccupied. Thus in the name of peace and safety it may be helpful to have handheld devices available specifically for their use.
For younger children, they can be equipped with games and cartoons. For older ones, in this day and age, perhaps an internet connection would be required to keep them content. But even without the internet, ample entertainment can be stored on an android, iPad or what have you to keep them settled.
It may also be desirable, if your children are the feisty types, to let each of them handle their own device. In other words, no one wants a situation where children are quarreling in the backseat over a single piece of entertainment while you’re simultaneously focused on keeping them safe on the road.
If you’re the type of guardian who prefers to exercise control over the media your children consume, then you may want to choose the content which is present on the aforementioned devices and upload or download it beforehand. We all know what our children prefer in terms of media, as well as what we want them to watch and listen to. So road trips provide a sound opportunity to both educate and entertain them simultaneously, while also concurrently keeping them out of your hair.
Needless to say, the car radio is probably going to be on throughout the entirety of the time spent on the road. And this tool also provides the possibility to engage in some group fun, such as a thrilling round of carpool karaoke. In fact there is now even an official “Carpool Karaoke” board game, which is compact enough to carry on the road.
Playing board games is almost like an ancient practice in the modern world. But anyone who has ever done so knows that they’re an excellent group activity, even more than multi-player video games. And many parents choose to go on road trips with their children in the name of encouraging group activity. So in that regard, the good news is that there are actually quite a number of board games, including some classics, which have compacted versions specifically designed to be enjoyed on the road.
Most children love hearing a good entertaining, historical or even motivational tale from their parents. Under normal circumstances, holding their attention for an extended period of time may prove to be a challenge. But on a road trip, their ears are basically your captives. And once again, they’re probably very much looking forward to an interesting tale.
Preparations for a Road Trip with Kids
It is advisable to have a first-aid kit on hand just in case of any potential medical emergencies. Also, perhaps needless to say, if the child has any allergies or recurring ailments (i.e. asthma) then the applicable medicines should also be packaged, just in case the illness is unexpectedly triggered in an unfamiliar environment.
Handheld Devices (for Adults)
In the information age, the world is at your fingertips – so long as you have a modern handheld device and an internet connection. Indeed entire trips can be planned out with these conveniences. Moreover, as we are all well aware, having such on hand provides instant communicative access to emergency services and other types of assistance if need be.
Don’t Forget the Batteries
And if you do decide to travel with handheld devices, you would definitely want to make sure that they are fully-charged and that their batteries don’t die mid-trip. This would mean carrying along spares and/or portable chargers, such as a powerbank or charging cables which can be connected directly to the vehicle.
Car Seats for Small Children
In some localities, children under a certain age or size must, by law, be situated in car seats whilst on the road. And abiding by these statutes can save parents and guardians from potentially-bothersome situations on a number of fronts.
Also note that car seats that have already been involved in accidents must be discarded, even if they don’t show any visible signs of damage. Moreover, whereas it is not particularly advisable to use secondhand car seats, if such is the case then follow the recommended procedures to make sure that it is safe for use.
Spare Clothes & Sanitation Supplies
The reason we call emergencies so is because they tend to occur at unexpected, inopportune times. And often they can be mitigated via simple preparation. For instance, there will be no harm in carrying an extra set of clothes for each child involved on the road trip. It may be difficult to foresee how such will come in handy, until applicable situations actually arrive.
Along that same line of thought carrying along sanitation supplies, especially if you’re traveling with very-small children, is also very recommended.
Managing Car Sickness
Car sickness (i.e. motion sickness) may not be that common, but some people are victims of it. However, if a child is prone to such, that does not mean that he or she cannot enjoy road trips.
In terms of dealing with car sickness, the recommended course of action is to do research and acquire applicable remedies beforehand. In other words, don’t wait until your child starts barfing before you take action. And in such situations knowledge is power. For instance, certain simple foods, such as ginger and peppermint, are recognized as proven deterrents of car sickness. Conversely rich and spicy treats (i.e. fast food) can actually exacerbate it.
But at the end of the day, the best way to prevent motion sickness may be to simply stop moving. So with that in mind, if you’re traveling with a child inflicted with this malady, it would be wise to plan out frequent rest stops.
Resources Related to Traveling with Children
- Here is a list compiled of the 10 Best Board Games for a Road Trip.
- If you are traveling with a child prone to motion sickness, you may want to visit this site which features 8 Ways to Prevent Car Sickness in Children.
- There are also other sites like this one, which feature a variety of tips on taking road trips with children, such as Trip Savvy and Bright Horizons.
There generally tends to be only two types of road trips – those that are enjoyable, and those that are not. And with children in tow, the pendulum can easily swing in either direction. But the difference maker between a pleasurable or painful road experience with children often comes down to the preparation of the adults involved. And with that in mind, we hope that this post has proven useful in helping you get prepared for a fun-filled excursion with your kids.
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