A family road trip isn’t just a chance to get away without spending a fortune — it can be a rite of passage for parents and kids alike. With the right attitude and a little bit of planning, your road trip can feel like an adventure that brings everyone closer together. Without that forethought, though, it only takes a little bit of bad luck before a family vacation turns into a shared nightmare.
To help ensure that you have a great time hitting the open road with your loved ones, here is our practical family road trip survival guide:
A lot of people think that a successful road trip just requires a working automobile, a full tank of gas, and an ATM card. However, things change when you’re bringing kids along. You should have a few healthy snacks (so they don’t get sick from eating too much fast food), a couple of medications to fight nausea, some bottled water, and a map or GPS, at a minimum.
Plan for Breaks
When you’re bringing kids along on a road trip, having a good time is more important than making a good time. Remember that, and don’t plan an itinerary that’s too ambitious. Breaks should be scheduled a few hours apart at the most. In fact, you might want to think of your road trip as a series of several small road trips…
Plan Several Legs and Destinations
Even if the point of the trip is to see a landmark or visit a family member, try to break it into a series of smaller trips with fun destinations (like theme parks and attractions) scattered throughout the route along the way. Even though this will probably lengthen your overall travel time, it will make the trip seem shorter and like less of a chore.
Don’t Go Too Far
There’s nothing wrong with going on a very lengthy road trip, of course, but it’s a good idea to keep things shorter if you’re bringing family members (and especially kids). If it’s your first or second road trip, try to aim for a day or two of driving and no more.
Leave Extra Room in the Budget
Unexpected things tend to happen on the road. Cars break down, weather changes, and kids get hungry or carsick at inconvenient times. The best way to plan for these eventualities is to have a little extra cash in your pocket, and a few flexible days on your calendar. That way, you can alter your itinerary or budget as needed without having to stress about the details.
Bring the Right Games
While it’s understandable that you might leave your kids to play video games or watch movies on a tablet for large chunks of your road trip, you should also bring a few family games (like Mad Libs, scavenger hunts, or other forms of car-friendly entertainment) that you can all enjoy together. It’s better to feel like a family that’s on vacation than a collection of individuals riding in the same car.
Take Lots of Pictures
Some would say that the best part of a family road trip isn’t the adventure itself, but the stories you end up with afterward. You’ll make the good times easier to remember, and appreciate, if you all take lots of fun photos along the way. You can even share them online so friends and relatives can see what a great time you had.
Planning a family road trip sometime soon? Don’t forget to print a copy of this article and make it one of your best outings ever!