If you’re among the 100 million Americans that take a family vacation each year, you’re in luck. Long car rides, hotel pools, and family-fun destinations are the perfect way to bond with the people that you love most.
However, you also are in for a challenge. Keeping your kids occupied and excited in the back of an RV is tough, but it’s totally worth it. As long as you know what you’re doing, every moment of your trip can be spent bonding and making amazing memories. Read on for some tips on how to take road trips with kids and have a fantastic time!
Picking an Awesome Destination
The first step to an amazing road trip is, of course, an awesome destination. But with so many places to choose, how can you possibly decide where to go? Read on for some tips on how to make the choice as to where to take your whole family!
Involve Your Kids in Choosing
When selecting a destination for your road trip, many parents neglect to involve their kids in the conversation. Make sure that you do this! Your kids will feel valued when you involve them in the decision of where to go.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to give them free rein when planning the road trip. You may want to give them a choice between two destinations that you and your partner are interested in.
Let them have a couple of days to make their choice. If you have multiple children, tell them that the decision must be unanimous and made peacefully. This gives them an opportunity to present their points and work on skills of compromise if there’s any disagreement. You can facilitate these discussions and help bring your kids closer together!
Another option is to tell them that you’re going to a specific final destination and have each of them pick from a list of pit stops along the way. This is a great way to let multiple children have what they want and ensure that everyone has an awesome time on your family vacation.
Go Somewhere Hands-On
Whether or not you choose to involve your children in the decision of where to go, it’s important that you choose a hands-on destination. You want to interest and engage your kids not only so they get more out of the experience, but also so that you don’t need to deal with boredom-induced tantrums.
Children’s museums and amusement parks are always awesome places to go to. If you’re going to a historical site that you and your partner are interested in, that’s awesome! But be sure to get an engaging audio guide and take some time to head to hands-on exhibits. Coloring and activity books from the gift shop are great ways to engage kids when they’re tired or bored.
Get Kids Interested in Sites
It’s always a good idea to consider your child’s interests when planning a trip. If your child loves space and astronomy, the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral might be a great place to go. Kids that love to read about the past will thrive at historic homes. And every kid will be happy at a waterpark like Wisconsin Dells!
If you’re going somewhere that your kids don’t know much about, get them interested before heading off on your adventure. Watch movies set in the location that you’re going to and read books together about it. Tell them cool things about the topic that they’ll be learning more about when they reach their destination.
This is a surefire way to get the entire family hyped up for your trip!
When to Drive (and When to Stop)
Now that you know how to get your kids excited pre-trip, it’s time to look at the times that you should be driving. Here, we’re going to talk about when to begin your trip and when you should take breaks and rest. Read on to ensure that your whole family is comfortable and happy while traveling!
Start Your Trip Early
Beginning your trip early in the morning is generally a good idea for road trips with kids. Remember when you were little and were super excited about something? You probably couldn’t sleep! Use this to your advantage- kids will be in a good mood in the morning when you head out, and the early hours of your road trip will be something to cherish.
You may want to rent a spacious Leisureland RV before leaving. These cars afford your family enough room to be comfortable even when all your luggage is stowed away. This means fewer complaints about your children being in each other’s personal space and less grouching about being uncomfortable and cramped.
Make Frequent Stops
Since kids need to move around a lot, it’s also important that you make rest stops often. Go to the bathroom- they probably will need to- and take walks outside in the area by the rest stop. Going to the bathroom whenever needed and stretching your legs a bit is an essential part of keeping everyone comfortable while on the road.
Turn in When You’re Tired
It’s a universal truth that no one is at their best when they’re sleep-deprived. This is especially the case for children, whose minds are still developing and require rest to do so. When you’re traveling with tired kids, they’re almost certain to start fighting with each other (and with you) about little things that they otherwise wouldn’t care about. The same goes for when they’re hungry!
When most people in your family are tired, it’s time to stop at a hotel. There, you can rest, recuperate, and play in a pool (if you stop somewhere that has one- kids love that). This will ensure that you’re ready to rise with the sun and hit the road bright and early the next morning!
Choose Destinations Along the Way
One of the best things about a road trip (as opposed to a plane trip) is that you can stop at interesting things you see along the way. If your kids express interest in a roadside attraction, pull over and let them explore!
This is an awesome way to see things that you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to. It’s also a great way for both you and your children to learn new things and gain life experiences that you never thought you would.
You’ll also want to choose smaller destinations on the route to your main one pre-trip. This ensures that you and your kids all have things to look forward to in both the short and long-term as you cruise along.
Activities While on the Road
One of the most difficult things about road tripping with kids is keeping them occupied while on the road. However, you can use car time as an awesome excuse to bond with your kids (or give them space to engage their imagination). Read on to learn some road-trip activities that are perfect for families!
Electronics: Yes or No?
Many parents simply shove kids into the backseat with an iPad or movie-loaded computer and pretend that they aren’t there.
While watching movies and playing games isn’t a bad idea, it’s a poor choice to have them looking at screens 24/7. Not only does this cause eyestrain, but it also doesn’t enrich the road trip experience in any way. Let kids spend a couple or hours each day on these devices, but don’t rely on them to keep them occupied 100% of the time.
Read, Read, and Read Some More
So, if not 24/7 movie or iPad time, what should your kids be doing when left to their own devices?
An exciting and age-appropriate book series is a great way to make the entire road trip go by faster. Give your children long series like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympiansseries or the Magesterium books by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. They’ll almost certainly become engaged quickly, which means that their alone-time in the backseat will pass quickly. Plus, they’ll be using their imaginations and building a love of reading!
One frequent issue with reading in cars is motion sickness, but there’s a solution. Children’s Dramamine prevents carsickness so that your kids can read books and look out the window completely painlessly. This is good for them because they’re happy and good for you because… well, you want a mess-free experience.
Pack Healthy Snacks and Other Necessities
When on road trips, especially with frequently-hungry and antsy kids, it’s easy to pull over for McDonald’s every couple of hours and live off of vending machine snacks. This is a huge problem with children, though, since eating unhealthily doesn’t give them the nutrients that they need. Without appropriate sustenance, kids will become grumpy and tired, which leads to arguing and bad behavior.
A good solution to this is to pack healthy snacks that you know your kids like. Trail mix, fresh vegetables in a cooler, cheese sticks, and peanut-butter crackers are all good options. Not only will this keep your kids full, but it also means less stopping to get food… and less money spent paying for it!
Interact and Engage
One of the best things about road trips is taking the opportunity to interact and spend time together as a family. Because of this, make sure that you include your kids in conversations and play road trip games with them.
You may also want to do creative things with them like coloring and activity books, sculpting with clay or play-doh, and drawing on whiteboards. This gets the wheels of their mind turning and is a great way to have fun together!
Plan Fun Road Trips With Kids Today!
While there are a lot of challenges when planning road trips with kids, it’s more than worth it when you and your family are having fun and seeing new things. Check out the ‘travel tips’ section of our home page for more family road trip ideas. After that, pack your bags and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!