The great American road trip has been a family summer pastime for generations. Mom and Dad pack up the car and cram the kids in around the suitcases every summer to head to the lake, national parks, or just to see grandma in North Carolina. No matter where your road trip takes you, you will need a few tricks up your sleeve to make sure you all don't kill each other and you arrive safe and sound. Food, fun, and exercise all play into a successful road trip, and we have a few tips to help you pack up and enjoy one of the best trips of all time.
Food on a road trip may sound like a given, but you need to make sure you are packing the right snacks. Your bag of treats shouldn't just be filled with sugar-laden goodness. You need to have healthy snacks like apple slices, peppers, cheese, pepperoni, crackers, pretzels, carrot sticks, and bananas. Yes, you can have a few cookies in there too, but if you give your kids nothing but junk food they will crash and burn before you even get to your destination.
Kindles, iPads, and video game systems are perfect for road trips, but must be used in moderation or the approach could backfire on you. Load the kids tablets up with games, movies, books, and anything else that is age appropriate. Set a timer on how much they can have free access to the tablets and do whatever they want. Remember to take a break from the screens though, or simply watch a movie on one tablet so the whole family can enjoy it (yes, even the driving parent can listen while driving).
Outside of tech it can be hard for many of today's parents to figure out what to do with their kids on a long road trip. Activity books have been around longer than tablets and have been entertaining kids for generations. Head to the store with the kids before your trip to pick out a few fun maze books, word jumbles, connect the dots, or even Sudoku books. If they want that screen time, they will have to earn it with some good old-fashioned pen to paper fun.
Every family needs to take a break at a rest stop or local park as they make their way to their next destination. Being trapped in the car for hours isn't good for your soul or your bladder. Throw a soccer ball in the car before you take off on your next adventure. Bring it out at the first rest stop and start an impromptu game. The kids can run off some energy, you can stretch your weary legs, and you can all breath in some fresh air for a few minutes.
Everyone always forgets that the parents are in the car too. I have no idea why, since I'm usually the one either driving or in the passenger seat, but it's true. I don't like being in the car for hours on end anymore than my kids, and yet I always seem to forget that I will need to be entertained too. Now I pack books, music I love, movies, books on tape, knitting projects, and even pull out my laptop to get some work done.
A family road trip doesn't have to be the headache some parents fear. Do a little planning, research some cool stops along the way, and even a trip to see Great Aunt Ida can make some fun family memories.
What other tips would you add to this list?
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Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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