Best Tips for a Stress Free Road Trip with Kids

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A road trip can be a rewarding way to visit multiple destinations in one trip. They can also be stressful, especially if traveling with kids. These tips will help keep your family road trip as stress-free as possible. 

Plan Your Stops

Unless you love surprises, even the bad types, the worst thing you can do is go on a road trip without a plan. Planning will help you avoid unexpected issues. The last thing you want is to be miles away from the next rest stop when your child screams, “I gotta pee!” Planning bathroom and meal breaks keep the driver in control of the trip and lessen the risk of stopping in strange, scary-looking places. 

Use Google Maps

Google maps allow you to place multiple stops between your starting point and your destination. You can also see what an area looks like using street view. Figure out where the gas stations and the restaurants are ahead of time. This will save you time and frustration. Placing your stops into the GPS keeps your trip organized and makes the trip much less daunting. Seeing three hours to your next stop looks much better than 15 hours to your destination.

Sample Road trip from NYC to Orlando, FL with planned stops

Pack Snacks

I don’t know about you, but in my family snacking is an activity and on a road trip, you’ll need as many activities as you can fit in the car. Snacking will help the driver stay alert while keeping your kids busy and quiet. Packing snacks will also save you time and money, allowing you to stop less often and avoid buying snacks from rest stops. 

Pack Plenty of Entertainment

Bringing entertainment is obvious but the trick is to bring different types of entertainment. It may be hard to believe but even if your child is a huge Minecraft or Fortnite fan, or your toddler a huge Cocomelon fan, they will eventually get bored of playing or watching even their favorites. 

Sitting in a car for an extended period will eventually frustrate your child and the easiest way to distract them is by giving them something new and different to do each time. The Dollar Store and Amazon are great places to find plenty of affordable, car-friendly activities

Stretch Your Legs

Even if you don’t have to use the bathroom during one of your bathroom breaks, make sure everyone gets out to stretch their legs. This includes taking your baby out of the car seat, even if they don’t need a change. Allowing your child to stretch will ease their restlessness. Getting out at each stop also shortens the feel of the trip. Each stop feels like part of the adventure. 

Don't Overpack the Car

Make sure your kids have enough room to stretch their legs and arms in the car. Try to keep the back seats as clear as possible, including underneath their feet. Being squished between a bunch of stuff just isn’t comfortable. The more comfortable your kids are, the fewer complaints you’ll hear, and the less stressed you’ll be. 

Dress Your Child in Layers

If your child has on a coat, hat, and boots the entire road trip, I promise you won’t get very far. Not only will they be extremely uncomfortable, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, wearing a coat in a car seat is also unsafe. Dressing your child in layers will allow you to quickly adjust their outfits to changing climates. This is most important if you’re traveling to or from a cold climate. Instead, dress them in a hooded sweater on top of their shirt and keep the coat handy. 

Don't Overload on Caffeine

This tip is more about you than your child but it is an important tip for keeping your stress levels down. Your instinct may be to make sure you drink more caffeine than usual to stay awake. However, this can be a huge mistake. Do not consume more caffeine than you typically consume. You can end up jittery, with a racing heart, and at best with terrible coffee guts, leading to a long and potentially scary delay.

Download Content

If you’re an adult and you’re driving through the mountains and lose internet connection, you’ll be fine enjoying the views. If you’re traveling with children, losing internet connection for an hour can mean an hour of non-stop nagging and frustration. If technology-based entertainment is important for your kids, it’d be a mistake to rely only on streaming content. 

Cut Long Trips in Half

On our first 15-hour road trip, I tried to do the entire drive in one day as the sole driver. By the time we were in our last few hours, I was exhausted and super cranky. The last few hours of the road trip were no fun and by the time we arrived at our destination, I was no good to anyone. I recommend getting a hotel for any drive longer than 10 hours.

Breaking our next road trip into two days made such a difference. An overnight break from the car will keep everyone sane and happy. The road trip remains fun from beginning to end because you’re not pushing anyone past their limits. If you choose a hotel in an area you’ve never been to, the hotel stay becomes part of the adventure. Just because you can do it in one day, doesn’t mean you should.

Make Sure Your Vehicle is Reliable

You may love Betty, your 15-year-old Toyota Camry, but that doesn’t mean you should take her on the road trip with you. Just because your car is reliable from home to work and back, doesn’t mean it can handle a long road trip. Probably the most stressful and dangerous situation is having your car break down on you in an unfamiliar place with your kids in the car, especially if it’s dark. The best rule of thumb if taking your car on a road trip is to have it checked out by a mechanic before the trip to make sure it’s roadworthy. If you’re not sure about your car, then play it safe and rent one. 

 

With these 10 tips, you’re ready to get on the road. If things aren’t great on your first road trip, don’t give up. Learn from some of the negatives and try again. It’s important to figure out what works best for you and your family. 

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1 Comment

  1. […] Did I mention that these items are also road trip friendly? If you’re considering a road trip, you’ll also want to check out my Best Tips for a Stress-Free Road Trip with Kids. […]

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