Road trips are an ever-popular way for Americans to get out of the house and spend quality time together as a family. But as much as they can be a great experience, long periods cooped up in a car has its challenges.
This is especially true if there are kids in the back row, which inevitably brings a degree of stress along for the ride. Having all the safety requirements is a must; don’t forget your child’s car seat and making sure everybody is wearing their seatbelts, give you car maintenance before hitting the road, and then you are ready to go!
Children can get bored and restless quite easily. Dull scenery and sugary snacks will quickly make them cranky if there aren’t enough things available to keep their busy minds occupied. Here’s what you can do.
Take it Slow
Just like running a marathon off the couch, seemingly endless car rides can be daunting for someone who’s used to short runs to school and supermarkets. If you’re planning a drive that exceeds six hours, the journey will be far more tolerable when it’s preceded by a couple of shakedown drives to improve your little ones’ road trip fitness.
Plan Your Route
How to reach your destination depends on your goal. The recommendations made by Google Maps are probably your best option if you want to get there as soon as possible. On the other hand, alternative routes on smaller highways can be better if you’re able to take your time.
Eight hours on scenic roads with additional sights and stops can be more fun than five hours of battling trucks and watching tumbleweed roll along the side of an expressway.
Keep it Clean
Many kids are prone to motion sickness, so it’s a good idea to pack some disposable bags. Opt for zip-locks that can be easily tossed away. Ginger and peppermint food products are known to stave off nausea, making them a worthy addition to the snack list. Be sure to follow child car seat laws and cover your upholstery for extra protection.
Provide Plenty of Media
While screen time is typically something you want your kids to have as little of as possible, movies and games are an excellent way to keep the peace on long travel days. Don’t hesitate to throw out the rules (and guilt) by packing a laptop or tablet with some requested shows. Loading up a few videogames is also an option.
Audio is another useful tool here. You can make it more engaging with podcasts, or have everyone take turns choosing their favorite songs. Throw in a pair of headphones if you have younger kids who prefer “Wheels on the Bus” and other hit singles that the rest of the crew has heard all too many times.
Heading off before sunrise has several advantages. Time tends to go faster early in the morning, and golden hour can make the dullest highway look majestic. You’ll also relieve the stress of reaching your destination on time. Plus, kids love waking up at 5 A.M. if it’s a call for adventure.
As a bonus tip, keep some surprises up your sleeve for later. Imagine the excitement of pulling out a few unexpected treats or glow sticks come sunset. Safe travels!