Traveling by road for vacation can mean lots of miles in the car. This can be exhausting for everyone, especially little ones that get cranky after being cooped up for long periods of time. As travelers, we understand the pains and joys of taking that journey. Read on for Motherhood Defined’s (kid-tested) road trip survival guide: kid-friendly tips to help you get through without meltdowns.
Before you even pull out of the drive, make sure your child’s car seat is installed properly and/or all seat beats are in working order and clicked.
Pack plenty of water (If you have picky drinkers, we suggest AquaBall, a Disney-themed and heart-healthy water option.) a first-aid pack, and a car emergency kit. Charge your cell phone before you leave, and bring a both a car and home phone charger.
Get a good night’s rest. Sleep deprivation can contribute to frazzled nerves and unsafe driving. For children, this can mean more emotional outbursts. Sleep is key to a happy ride.
If you have more than one child and don’t have a larger vehicle (minivan or SUV), consider renting one. You’ll find that more space is best for packing and seating. We also suggest trying out RV travel for the most at home feeling.
Do not put children who do not get along well at home side by side. Even if this means placing a bag or cooler between them. Allowing each their own space will lessen the number of outbursts along the way. Bring along portable a DVD player to help keep them busy. We suggest buying at least one new movie they have never seen before to not only put a smile on their face but also keep their attention and the car quiet at least for a little while. All of my children (girl 12, girl 11, boy 10 and boy 7) all enjoy cartoons and our most recent favorite for the car is Care Bears & Cousins: BFFs – Volume 2, consisting of six episodes from the all-new series, this installment follows the Care Bears as they teach children important lessons through their exciting journeys in the magical land of Care-a-Lot.
Be prepared for one of the adults to need to sit in the back from time to time. Sometimes, I find that even the worst car riders simply need a parent within arms reach to stay calm.
Pack smart not in excess
Pack everything you want quick access while on the road separately, like chargers, drinks, snacks, diapers, wet wipes. Create an activity bag to help pass the time, add colors, coloring books, car games, dvd player and more to help keep hands and minds busy.
Pack clothing light. Some may groan but typically most cities and even hotels have a laundry facility. We found that more often than not, we return with more than we left with. Packing less allows us a less crowded space and the option to bring home those pieces that we long for from our adventure.
Don’t forget those basic outdoor supplies, such as sunscreen and mosquito repellent, in their own bag for outdoor fun along the way. You never know when your heart will call for a visit to the beach or a walk through a nature center.
Take your time
We all feel the need to rush but in doing so we unsettle our natural balance and cause an upset to our emotional system. Allowing yourself plenty of time to get from home to your desired destination is so important. In fact, take the time you think you need and add 10% more to it for good measure. You never know what will happen on the road. You could have a smooth ride or a flat, a tummy upset and what seems like everything go wrong. Arriving early is always better than late with a car full of stressed individuals.
In the end, it is important to remember to have fun. A road trip should be a joyful adventure, one that you will look back on and smile. As a parent to seven, I can tell you from experience that what will go wrong will but it is how you handle the situation that matters. Stay smart and happy!