I have written about tips for taking road tripping with kids before, but here are a few additional tips – and a giveaway for a fun book full of great ideas! Road trips are one of those things that get easier with practice, but there are simple things that make it easier from the beginning!
Invest in a Reciprocal Museum Membership
Did you know that many museums across the United States offer free or reduced admission to members of similar museums? One of my top road trip tips is to check if there is a local museum with a good reciprocal membership! We have used these types of memberships to visit all sorts of children’s and science museums across the country!
Use time wisely
Plan your travel so that you aren’t driving through major cities during rush hour. If hitting rush hour is inevitable, see if you can throw in a local museum visit (see museum memberships above). Mike and I prefer daytime travel, but several of our friends are big fans of driving into the wee morning hours, or leaving VERY early (3:30am).
Make it family time
Road trips make for get family memories – and they are a great time to tell family stories and create family traditions as well! Kids will remember the games you play and stories you tell forever, long after memories of the actual destinations have faded. I also love road trips as a time to connect with Mike and have discussions we haven’t made time for at home.
Now that we live in California, we can drive to Las Vegas (where Mike’s family lives) in one LONG day, or splurge and split the trip into two days, staying in a hotel overnight along the way. When we have only one or two overnight stays along the way like this, I like to pack clothes for the entire family for those days separate from our main luggage. That way the big suitcase stays in the back of the car, and we only bring essentials into the hotel.
For longer trips (our recent Massachusetts visit, and last summer’s cross country drive), the kids each carry their clothes for the trip in a backpack – a trick I learned from my own parents. Why carry your kids’ luggage when they can be in charge of it themselves?
Enjoy the journey
Focusing only on the destination is the easiest way to make a road trip miserable. Wherever possible, focus on the journey! Even when things go horribly wrong (say, vomit all over the car) see if you can see it as a family story everyone will laugh at later on rather than focusing on temporary discomfort.
It gets easier as they get older
A friend was over yesterday, marveling at how easily my kids entertained themselves and played together. While I do invest a lot of time, energy, and thought into raising kids who get along, a lot of the easiness has come form my children growing up and developing independence. My kids now understand the purpose of road trips and are more patient (hence no cactus rants). They can also follow the plots of audio books, read books, and play car games like the alphabet game and I Spy. They have also learned how to create their own down time in the car when we aren’t able to stop, and they can better control tempers from exhaustion – road trip issues I dealt with when the kids were younger.
And now for the giveaway…
Do you remember Loralee Leavitt’s Candy Experiments book? Now this engaging author has paired with Rick Walton to write (affiliate link) Road Tripping: A Parent’s Guide to Planning (& Surviving) the Annual Car Trip. This book is an excellent resource for families planning road trips – particularly extended cross-country trips! Mike and I have travelled quite a bit with our four kids, but this book still had some new-to-us tips and resources. We definitely learned that we need to do more to take advantage of National Parks! This book goes through everything – from choosing a destination to planning, preparing to leave, packing, food and snacks, last-minute tasks, managing the drive, stopping for breaks, sightseeing, and even things to think about that will need to be done when you get home.