Tips and tricks to get to your destination without losing your mind! Whether you’re headed someplace in Florida for a weekend or embarking on a cross-country trip, here are some tips for making the journey a little less bumpy.
By Alyssa Bourmeche
Kids Under Age 5-ish:
Put Together an Activity Bag
Hit the dollar store to pack an activity bag filled with novel things to do, like coloring supplies, simple crafts (like the one on page TK), and busy books. Check out the Kenley Kids Car Seat Travel Tray designed to create a flat surface that’s perfect for car activities and snacks.
Pack the Car Strategically
Accidents will happen! They’re pretty much inevitable, so it’s best to be prepared. Have a bag within reach with an extra change of clothes, diapers or underwear, wipes and whatever else you may need to clean up an unexpected mess. Keep these essentials in the backseat instead of the trunk to save time and stress in case things go south on a busy highway.
Consider Traveling Around Your Kids’ Schedule
Traveling around kids’ naps or bedtimes will help them adjust better to the changes in their routine. For longer trips, aim to leave around the time kids are normally sleeping or napping. Ideally, they’ll fall asleep on the road and wake up feeling refreshed.
Limiting juice, water or milk is a simple way to cut back on potty stops or diaper changes. Let kids have their cups and bottles at snack times, but then stash them away until kids specifically ask for a drink. The goal? Avoiding any accidents or leaks, especially for longer rides.
Kids Over Age 5-ish:
Let Big Kids Choose Their Own Snacks
Everyone knows that having snacks on hand is a foolproof way to keep kids happy. It also lessens unnecessary stops because someone is hungry. Let older kids shop for their own snacks before you leave. Give each child a budget and let them loose! Then, give them their own mini car cooler so they can enjoy their snacks whenever they please.
Plan Stops Ahead of Time
Bathroom breaks aside, planning stops ahead of time will help make the trip less daunting. Research any roadside attractions worth stopping for, like a building shaped like a giant orange or a small town you would have otherwise overlooked.
Lean Into Cheesy Family Fun
If there’s ever a moment to play games together as a family, the time is now. Verbal games like “I’m going on a picnic and bringing…” (memory game), “I Spy”, and “20 Questions” are a simple way to get everyone involved. Stay on the lookout for license plates from all 50 states (extra points for Hawaii and Alaska!). If you’re really organized, create homemade bingo cards of things to spot on the road.
Play Some Car Pool Karaoke
You’ve got loads of time to kill, so you might as well put a soundtrack to the adventure. Let each person share their top five favorite songs with everyone. Parents go first! Kids love seeing their parents belt out their favorite tunes. Then, see what the kids have been listening to in their earbuds. You never know — maybe you’ll discover that BTS isn’t so bad after all?
Enjoy the Ride!
For kids of all ages, keep in mind that doctors and experts from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommend stopping every 2–3 hours so kids can stretch their legs, especially little ones traveling in car seats.
As all parents know, unexpected things happen along the way no matter how much you plan. When something goes amiss, remember to keep calm! Mom and Dad set the tone of the trip. So take a deep breath, leave room for any bumps in the road and enjoy these fleeting moments.