Traveling Stress-Free: Tips for Parents
By Charles Carpenter
When warm weather hits, most families start thinking about taking a trip. Whether you want to go on a vacation or just take a road trip to the next town for a change of scenery, there are several things you’ll want to think about.
Since planning any sort of travel arrangement with kids can be stressful, it’s important to remember that everyone’s safety and comfort levels are a priority. Think ahead when it comes to snacks and bathroom stops since those are the two things all kids need when they’re in the car for a while.
It’s also a good idea to make sure the car is in good shape before you take off. Has the oil been changed? Have you checked the tires and the windshield wipers? Also, make sure you have an emergency stash in the trunk in case you break down: a jug of water, a flashlight with new batteries, road flares, and tools to change a tire.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to take the family on a trip without stressing.
Start with a Good Plan
A happy medium is imperative when planning a road trip with kids. You want to structure it a little bit so you can ensure that bathroom stops and food are accessible, but it’s important not to create such a tight schedule that you’ll be stressing over an extra detour now and then.
Look online at your route and make a note of all the rest areas, especially if you’re traveling in the Midwest; some cities have many miles between stops. Plan to get off the road every couple of hours so that everyone can get out, stretch their legs, eat a snack, and hit the restroom. This is especially important if you have very young children. It may take a little longer to get to your destination, but it will ensure that everyone is comfortable.
Set Up Snacks
Depending on how long your trip is, you may want to create some meal boxes for everyone especially if eating fast food all day doesn’t sound appealing. Head to the dollar store for some small plastic baskets — enough for each member of the family Pack hummus, cut-up veggies, dried fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, wraps, or protein boxes. Protein boxes are an assortment of foods high in protein: nuts, cheese, peanut butter, grapes, and hard-boiled eggs.
When everyone is ready to eat, they can load up their dollar-store baskets with whatever they want and keep it in the car.
Give Each Child an Entertainment Bag
If your child doesn’t have a problem with car sickness, pack a bag full of things to keep him entertained during the trip. Coloring books and crayons, a tablet (provided it has games that don’t need WiFi to work), a good book, and a metal lunchbox full of magnetic letters or poetry can go a long way toward keeping the kids happy in the backseat.
You may also choose to bring a few small toys along; just make sure to keep your child’s toys clean to avoid picking up germs while traveling.
Pack a Small Overnight Bag
If your trip will take place over several days, make sure you pack one small separate bag that has one change of clothing, pajamas, and toiletries for each person. This will make it easier on everyone when you stop for the night; instead of hauling several sets of luggage into the hotel, you can just grab one bag and be done with it.
Planning a trip for the family doesn’t have to be stressful. As long as you think about what everyone’s needs are beforehand and try to be as accommodating as possible, your road trip can be a fun time for bonding with the entire family.