Estimated Read Time 3 minutes
With the end of summer and Labor Day just around the corner, you may be contemplating one last family vacation before the fall. What better way to end the summer than a road trip?! Packing in the vehicle with your family is a bit nostalgic; bringing back great memories of the adventures we had growing up (and the fights you had with your sibling because they were “on your side”). If you plan to hit the open road with your family, here are a few of our top family road trip tips to help you navigate that next car vacation!
Make sure the car is comfortable for the entire family. This means not jamming the car so full that you hardly have any place to sit. If you have a significant amount of luggage, consider a cargo carrier that can attach to your vehicle’s roof or trailer hitch. This will give you some additional space to work with in the car. Additionally, you might consider reducing your load altogether by renting bulky baby equipment such as pack n’ plays, highchairs, exersaucers, etc. to be delivered to your destination hotel or vacation rental.
Taking off (when to leave)…
Trying to plan the right time to take off can be a stressful decision. You don’t want the trip to start off on the wrong foot and timing is everything. If you’re like me, you might think “Oh, let’s leave at bedtime! Then the baby will sleep until we get to our first destination!” WRONG. Learn from my mistakes. Unless your child is very small (less than 6 months), this does not work. We tried it with our 11 month old and it was a disaster. She sleeps on her stomach and couldn’t get comfortable enough in her car seat to settle in for the night. Naps are acceptable to her in her car seat, but nighttime sleep she wants to be comfortable and she let us know via 3 hours of screaming that she was unhappy with our decision. Learn from our mistakes. For young children and babies, we recommend leaving either very early in the morning to give you some time to drive before their normal wakeup time or leaving at naptime has worked for us as well.
What to do when they wake up…
For babies and small children, have one adult sit in the back with them to help keep them entertained. Books, songs, and peek-a-boo are all games that will keep them engaged and happy during those awake time hours. Bring car seat toys, books, balls, or anything else that your child is intrigued by that won’t be dangerous should it go flying across the car in an accident. Another great option is creating a “discovery box” using a shoebox. Just cut a hole in the top that is large enough for baby’s hand to fit through and then fill the box with objects of different sizes and textures. Baby can then stick her hand inside and will have a blast discovering what is inside!
For the older kids, fill up your smart phone or iPod with some great sing-along music. You can all sing and dance as you move down the highway. Also, make up games that will engage them with what is going on around you. The kids can identify license plates from different states, keep a tally of the number of cars they see that are of a certain color, etc. If they are learning math, give them the “job” of calculating gas mileage when you fill up or providing directions by reading an actual map rather than letting Google dictate your route. These are great skills for your kids to learn! However, don’t be too proud to resorting to iPads and movies when needed. Sometimes it is just necessary to give everyone a break! Prizes can also be great for older children. Create bags with activities or favorite snacks that the kids receive every 1 – 2 hours. This will help break up the time for them and hopefully reduce the number of times you’re asked, “Are we there yet?” For more ideas on road trip games, check out this post on PBS.org.
What to do when you all need a time-out…
This is important, especially if you will be driving for a significant amount of time! There is a point where no matter how many fun games and activities you have, you and / or the kids are going to need a break from being in the car! Look at your route to make sure you give your kid(s) a break every few hours. If there is a rest stop, give them the chance to get out and stretch their legs. Bring a ball that they can kick around or play a game of tag. The more energy they burn the better! Remember, even small babies need this break from being confined to a car seat. Take them out, place your hand under their bottom and rotate their hips to help release any tension they have in their hips or back from sitting.
The extra time it takes you to reach your destination will be well worth it if you can keep the road trip a fun, relaxed experience for everyone involved!
Good luck and happy trails on your next road trip! Do you have more tips to share? Comment down below! Looking for more baby or family travel tips? Check out our post, 8 Things you Should Know before Traveling with Kids!
Need a cargo carrier or baby equipment rental for your next road trip? Ayoopa.com is here to help! Here are just a few of the items and cities we have available: