Road trips are a lot of fun, but they can also be stressful if you’re not properly prepared. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to reduce stress and keep everyone happy. Based on my own experiences, as well as conversations with other parents, I’ve pulled together a list of some favorite stress-management tips.
Get the Kids Involved
Get the kids involved in planning the trip, from choosing where to go, where to stay, and what to do along the way. When kids take ownership of something, they’re less likely to get bored or act up. Your phone probably has a GPS navigation system. Still, buy an old-fashioned paper map and have the kids help you navigate.
Take Plenty of Pit Stops
If you plan to drive for many hours a day, schedule regular pit stops. These stops are not just opportunities to get something to eat or to take a bathroom break—find places along the route where the kids can have some fun. Roadside attractions, play area, and parks are all places where the kids can run around and release some energy.
Pack Entertainment & Snacks
Bring lots of entertainment—electronic games, board games, and playing cards. Kids can easily get bored during long drives. Also, bring plenty of car-friendly snacks. Even if you’ve carefully mapped out your trip, there’ll be times when it’s difficult to find a place to eat.
Engage the Kids
Keep your kids as engaged as possible while you’re on the road. Instead of having adults sit up front and kids in the back, one grown up could occasionally hop into the back seat and play a game with them. After all, one of the main reasons to take a road trip is to spend quality time with your kids!
Play Music & Audio Books
Get the kids off their head phones—do the same yourself—and listen to some music together. If you have time, create a joint play list before the trip starts. You could also try listening to audio books. Even if everyone has different reading interests, you should be able to find something like a suspenseful novel or a book of jokes that can grab everyone’s attention.
Give the Car A Check-Up
One thing that can definitely reduce stress is knowing that the car is in tip-top shape before you hit the road. Have it checked thoroughly by a mechanic, including brakes, fluids, lights, and tire pressure. Make sure that your emergency road service membership is current, pack your membership card, and ensure you have a spare tire in good condition!
Pack Emergency Supplies
Things can happen on the road. To be on the safe side, pack emergency supplies. This includes stuff for you and the kids, such as antiseptic wipes, bandages, batteries and phone chargers, a first-aid kit, hand sanitizer, motion sickness pills, and water. Don’t forget stuff for the car—flashlights, jumper cables, and did I mention the spare tire?
Bring the Kids’ Friends
If you have enough space in the car, why not bring one of your kids’ friends along with you? If possible, try and allow each kid to bring a friend or else you may have a case of sibling jealousy. If you don’t have space, make sure to switch next trip.
Packing & Unpacking
Pack your things in a way that you don’t have to empty the entire car each time you arrive at a new destination. Instead of giving each family member their own suitcase, pack smaller bags that contain what everyone needs on any given day; the toiletry bag should be packed separately.
Research the Places You’re Going—and Passing
Bring travel books about your destinations and the places that you’ll pass along the way. If the kids are young, read out loud to them. If they’re old enough to read on their own, ask them to share what they’ve learned with the rest of the family. That’ll keep them occupied and make time in the car more fun for everyone.