Contrary to popular belief (i.e. National Lampoon’s Vacation), family road trips can be an enjoyable adventure – plus time to relax, bond, and make lasting memories. Personally, I used to fear the idea of being trapped in the car for hours, but with the right attitude and tricks, it’s turned into a special family experience. Here’s how:
1. Disconnect from work entirely – As tempting as it might be, do not look at email. Let your work devices run out of power or just leave them at home to resist the temptation. If you do give into temptation, keep correspondence as brief as possible.
2. Hit the dollar store – I like to find little activities and trinkets, wrap them, and give them out when we hit a new state or 100-mile marker. The toys usually end up all over the floor of the car, but kids are excited by the little “gifts” and they’re entertained.
3. Find the playgrounds and clean rest stops – Letting the kids burn off energy is crucial. We like to use the web sites of fast food restaurants to find locations that have a playground – Chick-fil-A (a WMB favorite) and McDonald’s offer the most playgrounds, but it’s best to check their sites first. For bathroom stops, skip the gas station and visit hotel lobby bathrooms instead. They’re clean and spacious, and every hotel has one right off their lobby for non-guest visitors.
4. Make crazy stops along the way – Use apps like Roadtrippers to find unique stops – places like the alligator farm, the gold mine, a historic home, the bat cave, local aquarium or railroad…whatever suits your fancy… And the more bizarre and cheesy the better!
5. Pack wisely – Load the car with healthy snacks and water. Pack each day of clothes, socks, and underwear in a large zip locked bag, labeled by day – it takes a little more prep time, but when you’re living out of a suitcase, it will be easy to find what you need!
Ready to hit the road? Check out RoadtripsForFamilies: an entire site dedicated to family road trips with reviews, itineraries, and even game ideas!