Road trips can be a wonderful time to bond with family while seeing sights you don’t ordinarily see, but being stuck in the car with several people for hours at a time can pull at the patience of even the most cool and collected traveler. When kids are involved, there’s an added element of stress, but there are several things you can do to make your trip fun and relatively stress-free for everyone. Here are some of the best tips for taking a long road trip with the family.
Plan ahead…for every detail
It may sound obvious that you’ll need to make plans before you leave, but that doesn’t just mean packing and hotel reservations. As soon as you have figured out what the plan is, you should evaluate your vehicle and decide if it is appropriate for the trip, otherwise you can always rent a car at Car Hire Malta Group. You’ll also need to figure out who will be driving when, how long you’ll be driving per day if it’s a multiple-day trip, and how many stops you want to make. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s a good idea to look at your route online to see what sort of fun things you can incorporate into the trip. Stopping every two or three hours will add on time, but it’s worth it just to get everyone out of the car and moving for a bit.
Think about where you’ll be driving and what sort of outside factors you may come into contact with. Just as you’d prepare to avoid hazards at home, you’ll also want to do so for your trip. For instance, if you’re driving through the Midwest in October or November, you’ll want to watch out for deer alongside the roads as it’s their mating season. If you’ll be in an area where bears are present, be sure to keep food locked up tight and throw your trash away in an enclosed receptacle.
Don’t forget to prep your vehicle for the journey, too. An oil change and fluid check should always be done before a road trip, and you should also have the tires and windshield wipers looked at, too. Taking care of these little things first could save you a lot of grief later on.
What to bring
Aside from the requisite snacks, drinks, and things to keep the kids occupied, you should also think about making a playlist of songs or podcasts that everyone can enjoy. Relying on the radio is tricky, since stations change from city to city, and a playlist will ensure that there’s something for everyone.
Depending on the season, it’s also a good idea to bring travel ponchos for each person, a first aid kit, a large flashlight with fresh batteries, blankets, and/or bottled water (if you have the room). These things will be helpful if you get stuck in bad weather on the side of the road or have car trouble. Consider signing up for AAA before your trip, as well; this will give you peace of mind as you’re traveling down unfamiliar roads.
Rest, rest, rest
Getting adequate rest during a trip can be difficult for some; staying in an unfamiliar place can lead to a lack of sleep, making everyone cranky the following day. There are some things you can try if sleep is eluding you, such as eating certain foods and putting away cell phones and laptops at least an hour before bedtime.
If you’ll be doing the majority of the driving, it’s imperative that you get enough rest–not only at night, but during the day, as well. Make a plan for the maximum amount of hours you want to drive in a day and stick to it; don’t stay behind the wheel for hours at a time without stopping for at least a brief break. Fatigue can set it quickly, as can back pain and stress headaches, so take the time to pull over and stretch your legs.
Use your smartphone
While talking or texting on a phone during drive-time is dangerous (not to mention illegal), keeping one handy is a good idea. You can map out your route on Google Maps and keep the app open during your trip to get automatic updates about travel conditions–such as a traffic jam, construction, or areas with heavy fog.
About the author: Sean Morris is a stay-at-home dad and former social worker. He has experience in managing a career with parenting, transitioning to a family-focused lifestyle, and a marriage that has lasted 20 beautiful years (and counting!).
Photo via Pixabay by RyanMcguire