Tips on Road Tripping with Kids
Are We There Yet?
The ad nauseum phrase heard more times than you've changed your baby's diaper in a week when you have a group of kiddies along for the ride. My kids are all grown up (20 and 24), so I have the option of bringing them together or going the road trip on my own. When you have small kids, you may want to 1. Only bring them if they are a minimum of seven years of age 2. make your trip kid-friendly to avoid having the boredom of children chip away at the fun of your journey and the fulfillment of your trip. Whether or not you have children with you on your tour may change the location and timing of your journey. "Kid factors" will ultimately affect the "WHERE" of your trip.
Kids and Car Trips
If you have kiddos on your trip, you will need to pick a location in which you will have more "kid friendly" stops along the way. Kid-friendly stops can be their favorite chain restaurant, a highway rest stop with facilities and picnic tables, a local, county, or state park. If possible, plan to be on the road driving while your child is napping. This will reduce the amount of stress for adults and other children in the car. I suggest wearing your kids out with a fun game of frisbee, tag, or other activity at one of your stops, such as a park or a rest stop. When kids are tired, get back into the car for them to snooze away driving time.
Select your road trip destination a bit closer to your home base to avoid burning out your children. Choose a location within 8 hours of your home if you are planning an overnight to get to your location, or 5 hours or less, if you are planning on getting your road trip completed in one day. Five hours doesn't sound like a significant amount of time until you're in a car on the road in a small space for prolonged periods.
Add Drive Time When Traveling with Kids
Add 20% to 30% to your planned driving time to get to your destination. With extra bathroom stops, an unexpected illness, and stopping to reserve adult sanity, adding this spare time to your planning will significantly reduce stress and give your family a more realistic time frame to get to your destination.
For example, say you're planning a road trip which your map app says is 4.5 hours away from your home. Adding 20% of the time, you will take 5.4 hours of actual time to get to your location when you use a 30% time factor, your total actual time 5.85 hours of transit. Adding this time gives you a buffer for the unexpected, which we all know happens with children daily, especially when you least expect it!
Make Sure to Bring Kid-Friendly Snacks
Don't rely on a gas station for snacks on the road, especially if you're gluten-free. If you've run out of food, stop at a local produce stand, or, better yet, stop at a local supermarket. Not does this give you more variety, you'll save money on buying locally at a supermarket or produce stand. Another great choice is to stop at a local health food store. Health food stores and markets will have a greater variety of gluten-free and allergy-free snacks for your road trip.
Have Car Games Exclusively for Your Car
When my kids were little, we had a foldable cube in our car, which had games. These games were reserved only for car trips - they were not allowed to bring them into the house. This may sound extreme; however, if you have "special" toys for the car, children are more likely to stay engaged for a more extended period of time.
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