It’s summer! Time for you and your family to pack up and hit the road. A family road trip can be a fun and memorable experience for everyone, or it can be days on end spent in the car with cranky kids and frustrated drivers. The key to making sure your family’s next road trip is one for the record books? Planning in advance.
Know Where You’re Going (and Make Sure Those Places are Open)
Before you leave on the trip, read several guidebooks for the area you’re headed and make a list of places to stop at on the way. You’ll also want to map out the location of several restaurants and rest stops, because your kids are going to need a break. Plan on more breaks than you think necessary, as it’s often the case that one kid “doesn’t have to go” at a rest stop, but then needs a break half an hour later. To avoid heartache and frustration, call each place you’re planning on checking out and make sure they’ll be open when you plan on getting there.
Your phone’s GPS is great for navigation, but what happens if you cross into Canada and it doesn’t work anymore? Plan on bringing at least two navigation systems, the one on your phone and a separate GPS. It’s also a good idea to have an up-to-date road atlas handy, just in case technology fails.
Bring Lots of Food
Sure, you can always stop and buy food on your trip. But the snacks you’ll find at gas stations and rest stops is likely to be full of sugar and otherwise not so healthy. Plus, your kid might be fast approaching a meltdown when there are no rest stops in sight. It’s better to bring your own supply of snacks. Here’s a few ideas:
- String cheese
- Carrot sticks
- Almonds (if no one’s allergic)
- Clementine oranges
- Granola or energy bars
- Fig cookies
- Bottles of water
- Juice boxes
Clean the Car Before and During the Trip
When your family moves into the car for a few days, things are going to get messy. Vacuum the vehicle before you leave and hang a car air freshener from the mirror, to give the car a pleasing scent. Bring along a few plastic bags to use to collect food wrappers, empty bottles and other trash during the trip. Empty the bags at rest stops so that you’re not carting around piles of garbage.
With a bit of advanced planning and preparation, your family’s summer road trip will be one to remember fondly. If you’re planning a trip this summer, where are you going and how do you plan on getting there?