Every road trip with kids is a challenge. In fact, children will likely complain about being in the car for as long as you've been planning the trip. That said, there are ways to make kids more comfortable and keep them from getting bored or cranky on a long drive.
Try these tips for keeping everyone happy on your family adventure:
1) Make a plan
Plenty of apps and websites can help you map out a route that makes stops easy for both parents and kids to remember. This also helps avoid taking side routes if you need gas or food - wait until the next major stop. Even better, check out kid-friendly restaurants ahead of time, so you know where to go once you stop.
Creating a plan and sticking to it will help everyone stay on track and get to your destination safely.
2) Pack some treats
Even if you're not stopping every two hours, pack snacks for specific stops along the way. If you've got an exceptionally long drive ahead of you, organize the snacks, so there's more than enough for everyone on board. You can even break out special treats like stickers or crayons on occasion - just make sure they know there are limits!
3) Play car games
Some kids might think of car games as antiques from their parent's day, but playing thumb wars or "I Spy" is fun for older kids too. The general rule with these games is that whoever loses gets to pick the next one, which means parents can lose a few times before they have to start controlling themselves.
4) Get creative with activities
If you're still struggling for something that will keep your kids entertained, there are always options. Whether watching a TV show on a tablet or playing with toys from home, be sure to introduce new experiences, so there's no time for boredom. If you see your kids getting restless, pull over and let them run around - fresh air is good for everyone.
5) Don't forget entertainment for yourself
Traveling as a family can be stressful enough without trying to save parental sanity too. That said, spending every hour of the drive working on something or catching up on tasks can make for a very long day.
Instead, bring along your own entertainment if you need it. You might consider bringing a tablet or laptop so you can read or relax without worrying about annoying the kids, and they'll appreciate the chance to recharge for a while too.
6) Make a pit stop
No matter how much planning you do, there will always be unforeseen delays. Sometimes it's just unpredictable road work or traffic jams that slow everything down, but sometimes accidents or other incidents can cause issues too. Remember to check your insurance before the trip, one sure is a great choice.
You'll want to keep your cool if anything comes up. Still, it's essential to let the kids know they're not in trouble - especially if they were getting restless before something happened. Keeping everyone calm during unexpected breaks is good stress management for parents of all ages.
7) Keep track of time
Turning off the clock on long drives might seem helpful, so no one feels rushed, but having an idea about how much time you have left is essential. With the right distractions, two more hours could fly by - especially if everyone is having fun! Kids are very perceptive - even young ones will understand if you tell them, "We have at least two more hours" instead of saying nothing at all.
8) Rethink your plans if necessary
You've probably found that putting together a road trip plan is nearly impossible, but don't let anyone tell you otherwise - you should still do it. Putting together an itinerary might seem like hard work, but here are some reasons why it's worth it: If people know what's happening next, there won't be any awkward silences when the kids ask, "Are we there yet?" Once you're on the road, it can be frustrating to realize that you left something important at home or that there aren't enough snacks for everyone.
Finally, having a game plan makes it easier to head back home if you find that you're not having as much fun as planned.