Planning Tips for a Family Road Trip

Rachel MacDonald is a Glasgow-based freelance writer who has worked as a copywriter for businesses spanning the globe. When not chasing after her rambunctious two-year-old daughter, her interests include travel, design, and the arts.

 Travelling with kids isn’t always easy, combining good intentions with a hefty dose of chaos. You can plan all of the family-friendly car activities you want, but when you’ve been on the road for more than a couple of hours, the backseat bickering is bound to start. You can minimize the chaos by planning ahead. Although at heart road trips are about spontaneity and freedom, when small children are involved a bit of organization goes a long way. Try using the following planning tips to keep the whole family happy on your next road trip.
Let your Kids Help Plan

You’ll instantly cut down on the griping if you allow your children to have some input into your trip. Show them where you’ll be travelling on the map and ask them what they’d like to do in a particular city or national park. Encourage children to research these destinations before you arrive, so that they can be teachers for the day. Kids also love seeing how far you’ve travelled each day, so keep track with an interactive app or map.

Use the Element of Surprise

Here’s an informative article about keeping kids happy on road trips that mentions the importance of the element of surprise. The idea is to allow your child to pack a few of their old favourite toys or items of comfort, but then whip out a surprise gift every couple of hours. It’s an easy way to transform your run-of-the-mill road trip into something far more exciting. Who doesn’t like surprise gifts, after all? You don’t have to pay a lot of money for small things like new books, stickers, hot wheels, or colouring books.

Pack Lightly

It’s easy to mistake the “be prepared” advice for license to pack everything under the sun into the back of your car. Yet an overstuffed car is harder to manage, providing less room for everyone in the backseat and creating misery as a result. Your kids will be fighting over what little space is available in no time if you’re not careful. Stick to the essentials, and use a “less is more” mentality when you’re packing. If there will be laundry where you’re going, you don’t need a new outfit for every day of the journey. Packing lightweight separates that can be layered is always a good bet.

Choose Driving Times Carefully

If your children are still young enough to take naps regularly, that’s your time to shine as a driver. Wear them out with activities and sightseeing in the morning, before piling in the car for an afternoon nap. Similarly, you could do the bulk of your driving first thing in the morning or in the evening hours when kids are more likely to nod off. Just be sure to bring plenty of coffee for yourself if you go this route!

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for family vacations, but by taking the time to plan ahead a little bit you can anticipate your family’s needs and keep the peace on your next holiday.

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