Ah, the road trip. Just you, the open road and your kids screaming from the back seat about how one of them crossed into “no-man’s land.”
So, what do you do? You don’t want to be stuck at home until the kids turn 18, but you’re not sure you’ll survive hearing the dreaded “are we there yet?” eight minutes into an eight-hour drive. While carefree, “go wherever the wind takes you” road trips may be a thing of your past, they’re possible to survive and even enjoy. But before you pack the car, check out these tips for family road trip success.
Frequent or Infrequent Stops
If you’re traveling with kids, you’re guaranteed to make some pit stops; there is really no way around it. So why not try to make those stops special?
Plot out a few spots along the way where the kids can get out and expend some energy. Check out state parks along your route for a picnic lunch with a view (and room to run around for a half hour). In addition, find unique or quirky landmarks, like the Spam Museum outside Minneapolis or the World’s Largest Alligator in Christmas, Florida. If you are traveling across state lines, stop somewhere the kids can pick out a souvenir from each new state.
Snacks for the Road
Bring a small cooler filled with healthy and easy-to-handle snacks. While it may be fun for a special treat, you definitely want to avoid hunting down snacks at a gas station. For a long car ride, offer your kids some low-sugar snacks to avoid energy spikes. Pack a variety of finger foods, like cheese crackers, yogurt pouches, cereal, carrot sticks or rice cakes. For drinks, try electrolyte water, which will hydrate them faster and for longer periods, allowing you to stop for bathroom breaks less frequently.
Some In-Car Games
Who doesn’t remember playing 20 questions or the license plate game while road tripping as a kid? These kinds of simple car games never go out of fashion.
In addition to those choices, which alone could keep the whole car entertained for hours, try “I’m Going on a Picnic.” Great for kids ages five and up, this is an alphabet-based memory game, where the first person declares “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing (something that starts with the letter A).” The next player repeats the first item and adds one of their own, starting with the letter B. The game continues through the alphabet, and if a player slips up on a letter, they’re out (although you may want to make an exception for younger players or else the game will be over pretty quick).
For quieter games, bring a pad of paper and pencil to play Tic Tac Toe or Hangman.
Tech at Your Fingertips
Look, there’s nothing wrong with using a little modern technology to help make a road trip go smoothly. Not every mile of the open road will be scenic and not every minute needs to be filled with a family sing-along. In fact, it may be the difference between success and a complete meltdown.
Before the trip, invest in an unlimited 4G LTE plan and smartphone like the LG G4, so the kids can have a variety of entertainment at their fingertips. Have your kids pick out a movie or TV show beforehand that you can stream right before the going gets tough.