It’s summertime and time to hit the road for the Great American Roadtrip. I’ve come to really enjoy car trips with my family, here are some ideas that make them more fun for everyone:
Plan Your Route
My kids do ok for about two hours at a stretch in the car. Knowing this, I try to eyeball spots that might make a good run-around break. Last summer we drove to San Diego and you know what is a good spot to run around on that drive in July?? Well there isn’t one. It is all incredibly hot and windy. I do like to stop at Verrado Coffee Company, it’s about two hours from home (toward Southern California or Mexico). It has a great kids play space and even some outdoor space the kids can use to do something other than sit in the car. At times I will push it on the stops if the kids are sleeping or otherwise content. But generally I have found the best results for everyone were regular, planned stops to look forward to before things completely fall apart. Fuel up every time you stop, believe me.
Manage and Discuss Expectations
“We’re going to Disneyland! But first we have a super long drive! It is so long, we will drive a long time, stay in a hotel, and then drive some more!” Get the kids involved in the excitement of the trip, but also help them get a basic understanding of what they are in for. Start talking about the trip plenty in advance– the drive will take a long time but we’ll have stuff to do and at the other end is Grandma!
Bring Entertainment… and Snacks. So many snacks.
You’re never going to regret bringing too many things for the kids to do. Magnetic puzzles, Water Wows, dollar store random stuff (pom poms they can sort, a million tiny plastic horses, pipe cleaners) the traditional Eye Spy. We also rent kid’s books on audio from the library through their app. In addition to music, simple audio chapter books have worked well for us. And snacks. You’re also never going to regret bringing too many snacks. For entertainment and snacks, I like to carry what I call the “nuclear option.” A loaded Kindle and something like a giant chocolate chip cookie. When things are rough, one or both can save the day.
Plan for the Worst, Expect the Best
A Ziploc full of paper towels and some plastic grocery bags… is something you will be really happy you have in a lot of situations. Plenty of water to drink (and use with the paper towels for messes). A change of clothes (or two) for everyone that is easily accessible. A towel can be a life saver.
What do you do to make family road trips a success?