Uh oh. Looks like Dad has a wild hair again. Did he just say, “Family road trip?” Doesn’t he know we barely like each other as it is? Look, we all shudder when someone suggests a family road trip, but road trips don’t have to be completely vilified. Much of the success of a family road trip comes in preparing to take one. Rather than rushing at the last minute when everyone’s nerves are frayed, slow down, take some time, and plan it out. Your children will thank you. Or not.
Plan Your Trip
Where are you going? What’s the end goal? Are you taking a day trip or a longer trip to somewhere far away? The best thing you can do for your road trip with the family is set daily goals. How many miles will you drive in one day? Stop in certain towns and make hotel reservations beforehand. Never roll into town thinking you’ll just find something along the way. Have a plan, execute that plan, and everyone will be happy campers.
Plan Your Snacks
Everyone is going to get hungry on that long stretch of road a hundred miles between gas stations. Make sure your snacks are legion and your ice chest is filled to the brim. If you’re bringing pets, you better pack water and dog treats for them too and stop often for potty breaks. There’s nothing worse than a hungry toddler or a thirsty teen. Both will scream and cry. Do yourself a favor and load up on the snacks.
Plan Your Entertainment
You can’t fill a days’ long car ride with lame road games. You might be able to kill maybe fifteen minutes until your fifteen-year-old gets tired of I Spy. Or the Alphabet game. Or Slug Bug. Bring books, puzzle books, and electronics. Fill your playlist with epic music, an audiobook, or a podcast series. Have movies cued up for the kids to watch in the back. Bring drawing supplies, journals, mad libs, whatever will keep your family occupied for miles on end.
Plan to be Comfy
No matter the food and entertainment you bring, you’re bound to have people napping in the car on the way to your destination. Fill your car with pillows and blankets to maximize the cozy. Do not forget Junior’s favorite blankie. Bring the dog bed. Pack the neck pillow. You might just get a few hours of quiet on the way.
Plan Another Driver
Okay, Dad, you are not Clark Griswold. You do not need to drive the whole way yourself. Plan for another driver, your spouse, your older teen, your adult child, a friend. Take turns with the driving responsibilities that you do not get burned out or too tired to take the wheel. Not only is it practical, but it’s safe as well. No one needs you to fall asleep at the wheel or take unnecessary risks. Tired drivers are unsafe drivers. Switch it up at every rest stop.
If your family is well fed, well rested, and well entertained, you should have a very good time on your family road trip.
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