Holiday season road trips are a time when you and your family can spend quality time together. Children may grow weary after long periods in the car, so make sure you are thoroughly prepared. Have a plan for car-appropriate activities and snacks, helpful navigation technology and tools for any emergency situations. Here is a list of the top road-trip essentials that will help you and your family have a smooth ride:
A road trip is an opportunity for fun and memorable interaction among you and your kids. For kids ages three to teens you can play car-appropriate games like 20 Questions, Rock-Paper-Scissor, Hangman or Slug Bug. For a list of interesting games that will keep you occupied while you travel, the How Stuff Works site has a list of fun, board-less road trip games. If your child isn’t old enough for road trip games, you can provide them with entertainment media. There are a number of children’s song albums that they can sing along with that you can download onto your music player. Many family cars have built-in backseat or drop-down screens for movie entertainment. While television may not be a common or desirable activity in your home, a road trip may be a situation where this rule doesn’t stand. Movie entertainment can help keep kids calm, diffuse a tantrum or reward good car behavior.
Avoid any hunger-related tantrums with the provision of snacks. Pack easy-to-eat, compact snacks, that are accessible and won’t mess up your car. Energy bars, clementine oranges and trail mix are tasty, nutritious snacks. If you bring along trail mix, spills can be best avoided if it’s kept in a pour container with a small spout, like a recycled cinnamon spice jar. Stick with snacks that don’t have a high sugar content, so your kids don’t react with a sugar high and crash. The Candy Tree, Organic Lollipops are useful treats that don’t contain sugar and will keep your kids occupied. Pack bottles of water so your family doesn’t become too dehydrated. Plan ahead and provide hydration for yourself and your children before you stop for a meal, so they will have a bathroom opportunity when you’re off the road. This will help prevent multiple restroom stops and the extension of your trip-time.
Download apps onto your tablet or phone that will help with your trip. Make sure you have the addresses of your pit stops, sightseeing destinations or end points in your phone’s notes. You can easily copy and paste these addresses into your phone’s GPS. An alternative GPS app that will help you see traffic delays, construction or collisions is Waze. This app’s traffic conditions are more detailed than your smartphones and will help you find alternative routes, in-the-moment. If you know you will be traveling without cell service, invest in a satellite GPS for your car. Other useful apps for road trips are Yelp, for restaurant recommendations, and GasBuddy, which helps you locate the nearest gas station and the best fuel prices.
4. Emergency Tools
Keep your family prepared and safe in case of emergency. Pack a first aid kit in your car. This should contain band aids, common ointments, scissors, tweezers, fabric bandages and sanitary wipes. You can also purchase a fully-equipped first aid kit at your local drugstore or online. Keep a spare or replacement tire in the trunk of your car, in case you have a blowout or your tire becomes damaged. A full-size, name-brand replacement tire will help you stay on track with your trip. Make sure you also have a kit that will help you successfully navigate the roads in winter conditions. You can purchase a winter kit that will include all the necessary cold-weather tools, and you should also have a set of tire chains in your car too.