Our family likes to travel and we try to get on the road as much as possible. We’ve taken four kids all across the United States and lived to tell about it. There’s no reason to be intimidated about taking that road trip with the kids.
Here are some tips on how to get through long car rides with kids.
1) TRAVEL AT NIGHT – One of the hardest parts of traveling with young children is they get bored and they want to stop and stop often. If your travel time is limited and if you are traveling with another driver try to make as much of the drive as possible at night. When the kids are sleeping you can make much better time on the road and cut out many of the unnecessary stops.
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2) PLAN OUT SOME SIDE TRIPS – If you are traveling during the day, plan out some side trips. It gives the kids a chance to stretch their legs and helps relieve some boredom plus you may find some really cool you never knew existed. I like to use the website Roadside America.com to find some destinations on my route. Many of the places are just quick stops and most of them cost little to nothing. We’ve stopped at a gas station that was shaped like an airplane, roadside monuments and even a crypt that is mysteriously covered in blood. The kids always seem to enjoy it and it helps create fun memories you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
3) ROADSIDE SCAVENGER HUNTS – There used to be an iPhone app that we used for this but it no longer exists. In our last trip, each of us took a turn coming up with an object to find somewhere on the road. Things like a school bus, a flag, hospital, etc. keep kids interested and the game can be fun for parents too.
4) PACK A SEPARATE BACKPACK FOR EACH KID – Fill a backpack up with things your child can do during a long drive that won’t take up much space. Coloring books, pens, pencils, small toys, headphones and chargers for the electronics are a great start. No matter how much your child likes playing on their iPad, they’re going to get bored with it and you’ll be glad you have some backups.
5) TRUCK STOPS ARE A GREAT RESOURCE – My go to stop on any long road trip are truck stops, particular Pilot, TA or Love’s. They are always well lit and generally crowded so I always feel safe if I need to stop during the night. They all have gas, a restaurant, clean rooms and everything you need for the drive (snacks, drinks and that phone charger you forgot). These stops are usually right off the highway so if you are in a hurry, you can knock out several things at once.
6) PICNIC AT REST AREAS – Rest areas are a great place to stop during the day. Our kids love to pick up brochures inside and there’s usually plenty of space to run around and burn some energy. Another benefit is they make great picnic areas. traveling with kids can be costly and even meals at McDonald’s can take a toll on your wallet. Our kids are just as happy to eat sandwiches and snacks picnic style at the rest area. It’s fun and it will save you a few dollars.