My husband and I love to take our kids on day trips and family vacations but nothing can make a fun experience go sour faster than unhappy kids in the car! I don’t know about you but when you are in a car it seems that every disagreement and every question can seem like torture after a while, but after many years of traveling and having five kids I have learned a few tricks along the way to make Family Travel easier.
1. Use your GPS if you have one. On our last trip we inputed all of our data, even though we knew exactly how to get there because our GPS shows how much travel time is left and the estimated time of arrival at destination. That cut down on the never-ending “Are we there yet?” questions from my older kids because they could just glance at the GPS and see how much time was left.
2. Bring lots of snacks that are easy to eat in the car–nothing brings out the whining faster then hungry kids (and parents!) and who wants to stop at all the fast food restaurants along the highway? I like to pack snacks that are easy to eat in the car without being too messy so I pack pretzels, string cheese and apples and of course, some easy to eat candy like licorice. These are all great snacks because they can be handed out without having to stop the car and they don’t make hands all greasy dirty.
3.Since we are talking about snacks, make sure you don’t forget to bring baby wipes and paper towels. Baby wipes are great (even if you don’t have a baby) because they can serve lots of purposes. They are great for wiping off sticky hands, wiping down sweaty faces and for a quick clean up if you end up stopping to stretch your legs at a rest stop.
4. Bring different sized ziploc bags -small ones are great for putting snacks into, large ones are good for trash and car sickness. Ziplocs are great because they are leakproof and they seal so you can just seal your mess into the bag and then throw it away at your next stop. No worrying about messes leaking all over your car.
5. Finally, don’t forget the handheld games/DVDs/Ipods- I always tell my kids they can bring whatever they want with them as long as it fits inside their own backpack BUT I always make sure they have their electronics with them for in the car. Games and DVDs are a great way to pass the time in the car, because lets be honest, there are only so many times you can play I Spy or the license plate game before mommy goes a little crazy!
Bonus tip: set yourself up for success rather than failure. If you are traveling with a baby or a toddler, leave at a time that works best for them. If they are good about sleeping in the car then plan your travel for times that they can nap in the car. If they are not good about sleeping in the car then plan your travel for early morning when they have just woken up or plan to travel when they wake up from their nap and build in breaks throughout the trip. Nothing makes a trip in the car more difficult that a screaming baby.
Looking for more Family Travel tips and destination suggestions? Make sure to check out my Family Travel section!