Planning a family road trip this summer? Check out these tips on how to have an amazing family road trip with your kids. Road trips are work, but also an incredible way to build relationships and make lifelong memories.
This summer, Mike and I sold our house in Massachusetts, packed up our minivan, and drove from our old home in Massachusetts to Silicon Valley, California! Mike’s new employer gave us a pretty tight moving budget. We could ship our minivan, buy plane tickets, and come out over budget. Or we could drive, stay in nice hotel suites the entire way, and break even – or at least come close. Driving was a no-brainer! Here are some of the benefits we experienced by driving, as well as tips for a successful road trip with kids.
10 Tips for a Successful Family Road Trip
Have I convinced you to try road trips? Or were you already an enthusiast? Here are a few things that can make a road trip go more smoothly:
We packed our kids’ clothes in their school backpacks – a trick I learned from my own parents. You can fit five days’ worth of warm weather clothing in a child’s backpack if you are careful, and this way they can carry their own stuff into the hotels. Plus, backpacks take up way less space than even small suitcases!
Stop when you need to, but drive if you can.
We planned more driving breaks than we actually took, because when the kids were asleep it was much easier to keep driving! We did stick to the hotels we had reserved at the beginning of the trip, just so that we wouldn’t end up looking for a place to stay with tired-out kids.
Spread the trip out as much as you can.
Driving from coast to coast in six days was pretty tight, and we had some LONG days – because, with small children, even a basic bathroom break takes close to an hour. It would have been fun to take more time for the trip and see more fun sights, but Mike had to get back to work.
Bring pillows and blankets.
This made a HUGE difference for my kids! They were able to sleep in the car, and it helped them feel secure during what was a very unsettled time for our family.
We brought more than we actually needed, I think, but the kids really enjoyed having them.
Bring one comfort item per child.
This is something I have always done when we traveled – whether we drove or flew – and it has always made a big difference.
Bring water bottles.
I LOVE these Contigo Autoseal Kids Trekker Cups (Amazon affiliate link) – they never leak! The kids take them to bed at night, and use them in their school lunches.
I have yet to successfully get my kids listening to audio books (I keep trying!), but they love listening to music – especially the younger ones.
Pay attention to holidays and events.
This may feel obvious, but Mike and I didn’t even think about the fact that we were leaving Massachusetts and driving straight to Niagara Falls Memorial Day weekend. We hit a TON of traffic at the border crossing! We also hit some traffic when we stayed in a town near Notre Dame college – right when they were hosting a home football game with one of their big rivals! I’m pretty sure we were the only ones in the entire (packed) hotel who were not there for the game!
Seeing Niagara Falls was the highlight of the trip for me, but for my kids staying in a particularly large suite in a middle-of-nowhere town was a HUGE highlight – especially after several nights in small rooms! Remember my trip to Mexico? I loved the pyramids, and the beaches, but I also remember ADORING a round green (!) bathtub in a hotel that we stayed in. I still appreciated the cultural and typical tourist destinations, but children see the world through a different lens, and that’s not a bad thing. They loved their hotel room, but they will also remember Niagara Falls – as a beautiful sight their mother adored.
Do you go on family road trips? What benefits do you see, and what tips do you have to share? What road trips should we take, now that we live in Northern California?