Written and Contributed by Daniel Sherwin
There is nothing more memorable than the quintessential family road trip. The memories come from both good and bad times, but as a parent, you’re praying for more good times and less bad. Here are eight ways to make your family road trip a vacation.
1. Get into a story
Storytelling has been around since the dawn of time, and it’s a chance for the whole family to be engaged. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to get audiobooks the whole family can enjoy, different apps can make books from your local library available. Some narrators will have naturally relaxing voices that can help your children sleep on the car ride.
2. Play some car games
Games are a fun way to peer inside someone else’s head and see how they perceive the world. An article in the Huffington Post lists many different road trip games you can play. Road trip bingo is a fun one as well, and there are lots of templates and ideas for what you might want to do. Games can be fun and keep everyone engaged.
3. Munch some car-friendly snacks
There’s nothing like “hanger” to dampen a car ride. Not all foods are made for the car, so find healthy snacks and meals that won’t make a huge mess. Opt for quick travel-friendly choices for the road including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars, baby carrots and hummus, fruit cups, nuts, snap peas, apple slices and applesauce pouches. You can also do protein boxes or wrap sandwiches. Separating the snacks in advance allows you to avoid squabbling over portions and who gets what.
4. Plan a break every 2-3 hours to get out and stretch
It’s not just good for potty breaks: getting out and taking brief 15-minute breaks is good for your body and mind. If you suffer from chronic pain, this can also be an invaluable time to stretch out and make sure that you don’t aggravate anything. This can be energizing.
5. Switch up the arrangement of people in the car
Close quarters can occasionally breed contempt. Don’t be afraid to switch up the seating arrangement in the car to separate people who are having a difficult time getting along with each other. Time heals wounds. Your children will eventually forgive and come back together.
6. Study the destination
One of the best parts of any trip is the anticipation and excitement of travel. Read about the place that you’re going and talk with your kids during the road trip about things that they want to do. They’ll stay engaged and excited. Studying the destination will help you get an idea for the kinds of things that you can do while you’re there and invite the whole family to participate.
7. Pack wisely
For some long trips or when there’s going to be limited space, it become important to pack carefully and make sure that people have an adequate amount of personal space. A recent article from HGTV suggested saving space by using a shoe organizer behind a seat to store toys and games. Try out different travel storage options for clothes instead of using just luggage. Pack items you will use often on top of everything so they’re accessible.
8. Plan your travel time
Planning to travel late at night or early in the morning allows your family to sleep off part of the ride. It also gives you time to cover some serious ground. Carefully planning the time and consulting travel apps like Google Maps or Waze can allow you to avoid heavy traffic and choose the most time-efficient hours to travel.
A successful road trip is entirely possible as long as you plan carefully and learn how to roll with the punches. Take breaks every couple of hours to give your body a break from sitting so long, and play games with your kids to keep their minds active. You’ll learn conflict resolution and all sorts of life lessons along the way. With road trips, it’s all about the journey.
Gary de Sesa & Kita de Sesa are travel agents and owners of Gary D Travel. Contact us at 516-300-9924 or
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