If you’re thinking about taking your family on a road trip, you’re probably already preparing for it. When your entire family is going to be in the car for hours and hours, you know you’ll need to put some thought in to ensure that everyone stays as happy as possible. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you out if you’re in the process of planning your next family road trip.
Consider Rental or a New Car
If your car has seen better days and may not survive a long road trip, consider rental, or even getting a new car before the trip. If you’re looking into buying or leasing a new car, make sure that you’re doing your research on the dealership that you’re buying from. 54% of consumers will go to a dealership that has a better customer experience over somewhere that has cheaper pricing. That’s because you want to be able to trust the dealership that you’re buying or leasing your car from — a car is what is keeping you and your family safe on the road, so you want to buy or lease one in the best possible condition.
If you choose to rent a car to drive, make sure to pay attention to the mileage limits and any fees that you may incur after you go a certain distance. These small fees may sneak up on you, and you won’t even know that they’re accruing until you get your final bill.
Get Any Car Maintenance You Need
If your car is in good enough shape to be driven for this road trip, you should still make sure that you do any needed maintenance before the trip. You should consider regular forms of maintenance such as oil changes, checking your tires’ air pressure, and getting your tires rotated.
Make sure to look into the exact mileage required for your oil changes — for example, if you’re driving a Mercedes with synthetic oil, you’ll need to get an oil change every 7,500 miles. If you’re driving a Toyota, the brand recommends an oil change every 10,000 miles, but they also recommend a top off of liquids and a tire rotation every 5,000 miles. Make sure to look at your car’s manual or find a coy online to ensure that you’re performing all the required maintenance before a long road trip.
Stock Up On Snacks
Although you’ll have to stop for bathroom breaks and to stretch your legs, try to avoid buying the snacks that rest stops have available. Instead, pack your family’s favorite snacks, and mix together healthy and less healthy snacks so that your kids can have a little treat if the time is right. Try to avoid too much sugar so you can avoid hyperactive kids with no way to let their energy out and stomach aches.
Make sure you also bring water with you. Bringing reusable water bottles and a jug of water is a good way to avoid creating waste with plastic water bottles while still keeping your kids hydrated. Avoid sugary drinks for the same reason you’re avoiding sugary foods.
Have Activity Options
Having “alone time” activities for your kids to do on their own can help cut down on fighting between siblings and the amount of entertaining you’ll need to do during the trip. Bring activities like coloring materials, books, and toys with you in bags personalized for each kid. If you’re bringing coloring materials, like crayons or a coloring book, make sure that you also bring a clipboard To add a fun element to the bags, don’t let your kids know what’s in them until you get in the car.
For group activities, consider things like games of iSpy or mad libs, both of which can be played with kids of most ages. You can also have members of the family take turns making up and telling stories to each other. This is a great way to channel your kids’ creative energy so they have an outlet for it during the journey.
Although limiting your kids’ screentime is important, downloading some of their favorite movies or tv shows onto your phone or tablet before the road trip can make the ride a little easier. Most streaming apps will allow you to download movies and shows, so make sure that you do that before you leave to avoid any data issues and buffering.
If there are games that your kids like to play on your phone, see if it’s possible to play them offline or look for similar games that don’t use the internet. Even if you have unlimited data and aren’t worried about them racking up your cell phone bill, you may hit dead zones while you drive.
Don’t Forget Portable Chargers
If you are bringing technology, make sure that you bring chargers with you as well. If your car doesn’t have USB hookups, consider bringing stand-alone portable chargers that can have a phone, tablet, or other USB charged based device plugged into it. There’s a reason why the US energy market is the third-largest US industry — we consume a lot of energy. Make sure that you’re prepared for it with the right charging cords and cables to avoid any issues with dying devices and cranky kids.
Break the Trip Up
Long road trips can be difficult for younger kids to understand conceptually, and it can also be difficult for them to sit still for that long. Finding small attractions along the way to stop at during your trip is a great way to give them a chance to get out all their energy. Look for parks, hiking trails, and playgrounds near the roads you’re driving on to help make the car ride that much easier to sit through.
Also, consider going to actual sit-down restaurants instead of driving through places or eating in your car. If you want to pack your own meals, bring a picnic blanket and set up your meal at a rest stop or one of the parks where you plan to stop. Giving your kids that extra chance to stretch their legs may make all the difference in the world when it comes to making the trip more comfortable.
Road trips are a great way to get in some family bonding time while also getting yourselves to another destination. Although sometimes younger kids struggle with the long journey, that doesn’t mean you have to have a bad road trip.