TIPS: Family Road Trip!
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
There’s nothing quite like that feeling of pulling out of the driveway to embark on a family vacation. The freedom, excitement, and anticipation as you drive toward paradise are rare, special feelings that we share with our children. But things can quickly go south if you haven't done the right things to prepare in advance.
Things can quickly go south if you haven't done the right things to prepare in advance.
Keep reading for our tried and true tips for family road trips including packing tips, how to pack the car, and activities on the road for the family!
A quick word on choosing Drivable Destinations
Drivable destinations are a great way to vacation because they allow you to pack more stuff, worry less, and stay in control of your travel.
Long weekends to a drivable destination are the easiest way to make sure you use all of your well-earned PTO.
A road trip is logistically simpler than flying somewhere, so working parents are more likely to take those trips.
Always start with a staging area. We setup a folding table a few weeks before a trip and just start putting items there once it crosses our minds. Binoculars? Pack N’ Play? Walkie Talkies? Set ‘em and forget ‘em.
Make a packing list. Take the countless items filling your head and put them down on paper (or in an app like ToDoist). Once your packing list is out of your head you’ll feel dramatically less stressed.
Other things you can add to this packing list include tasks to be completed before you leave, like holding the mail, setting timers for lights, raising the thermostat, etc.
EXPERT TIP: Hold on to that list for future vacations! And keep adding to it; you can always ignore an item if it doesn’t apply to your current trip. You’ll soon notice that vacations become easier and easier to prep for.
Packing the Car
It’s an engineering puzzle. We always lay out all the pieces, open up the doors to the car, and begin to visualize.
The bottom layer should be reserved for bulky, sturdy items and the lightest, fluffiest things go on top. Loose or open bags should be layered in the middle.
If there are things you’ll need during the car ride, obviously put them up with you in the front. Snacks, water bottles, iPads, charging cords, magazines, etc.
If there are things you’ll need immediately once you arrive (cooler, Pack N’ Play, pajamas for kids, etc.), make them very easy to access.
EXPERT TIP: Still need more space? Slide the seats forward! Every inch matters. And remember, there’s storage space under those seats too!
On the Road
With young kids or short attention spans, your road trip can quickly begin to feel torturous. Here are some activities to pass the time!
Picnic alphabet game: Starting with the letter “A” and rotating through the car, people name food items that they’re going to bring to the picnic. Another 'fan favorite' in our car is the Pizza Delivery game (for younger kids). The kids pretend to order a pizza and passengers put together said pizza from objects in the car and deliver! (Teaches kids how to talk politely on the phone and be creative).
Magazines, coloring books, look-and-finds: kid-friendly magazines like Ranger Rick, Jr. are fun and engaging. Our personal favorite is the Highlights “Hidden Pictures” magazine! It keeps the kids occupied for what seems like hours (there are stickers!).
If your kids are extra fidgety like ours, bring something that will occupy their hands. A fidget cube, handheld puzzle, or even little action figures tend to do the trick.
iPad/DVDs (don’t forget the headphones): sometimes as a parent you just need a break. Make sure your device is fully charged and media is downloaded onto your device in advance.
Snacks should be easy to reach, and don’t use spill-able drink containers (obviously). Fast food is almost always a necessary evil but try to choose options that won’t make you (the parent) feel like garbage afterwards. Your mood rubs off on your passengers.
It's almost inevitable that there will be a spill or in the rare occasion someone has an accident or gets sick on themselves. An extra set of clothes in a plastic bag that is easily accessible will allow you to reuse it for the dirty items and will save you from ripping apart your well-packed trunk.
EXPERT TIP: apps like Google Maps and Waze are invaluable when it comes to avoiding construction zones, accidents, and other traffic delays. The days of old-fashioned map reading may have been fun, but they leave too much to chance when every hour wasted could have been an hour in paradise.
Other Tips for a Stress-Free Vacation
Planning ahead, and getting help from others in your family, help to take the stress off of you. Getting into vacation mode early makes it easier to detach from work when the time actually comes. The days leading up to departure may start to feel like vacation too!
Think of ways the kids can help prepare. Anticipation is half the pleasure right? Give the kids an allowance; a few bucks they can spend on the trip for helping out.
Use a countdown clock.
Look at bedrooms where you are staying before you arrive. Studying the room layout and knowing where everyone will sleep in advance beats having the discussion upon arrival – when everyone’s eager to settle in.
Dress fun! Flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt worn around the house will kick-start the feeling that vacation is almost here!
We want vacationing to be easy again. Our goal is to save you time and stress, so you can relax and enjoy your vacation! We'll fully plan your vacation the way YOU want it, not the way that makes us the most money. Send us a message and let us help you start planning!