Family vacations, road trips and summer go hand and hand.
Whether you’ll be on the road for days or just hours, the following tips are bound to make everyone happy and the time spent on the road more enjoyable.
All it takes is a little planning, some creative ideas and you’ll be off on a family adventure you won't soon forget. It may even turn out so well you’ll want to do it again next year.
Hold a Pre-trip Family Meeting
Plan the route together including where you’ll stop along the way and make some decisions re: what songs will be added to a family playlist (for singalongs). Discuss what types of car games and activities each family member wants to do.
You may want to plan to play games like “I Spy” and The Alphabet game (where you find each letter of the alphabet on signs or cars). Create a binder for each child with travel activities, games and a map inserted into clear plastic sleeves. Pack some dry erase markers. Eliminate the "Are we there yet?" questions by having your kids follow the route on the map.
Get Active During Rest Stops
Whenever you stop for food, gas or a bathroom break make a point of doing some active games like Frisbee, playing tag, or timed races around the car (see if your kids can beat their time from the last stop) etc.
Refreshments to Go
Stock a cooler with fruits and veggies (e.g. grapes, apples, baby carrots and celery), homemade energy balls, protein bars, and granola bars.
Try to keep sugary snacks to a minimum to avoid sugar highs and reduce backseat fights.
For long trips, pack up different non-perishable snacks for variety each day.
Make a water only 'in the car' rule. Bring refillable water bottles (labelled for each family member). Pack a 4 L jug of water and refill individual bottles at rest stops.
Encourage drinking half an hour before a planned stop so everyone stays hydrated but you don’t have multiple pleas for bathroom breaks along the way..
Limit the use of electronics by implementing a point system to earn screen time. Activities like family game participation or individual reading/ journal time can be given a certain number of points..
Older kids could earn more personal screen time by using their smart phones to look up information about the area when you’re driving through and sharing it with the rest of the family.
Prepare for Motion Sickness
In addition to a first aid kit you may want to consider packing a travel sickness bag. Such a kit should include a large sealable bag packed with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, a hydrating drink like Gatorade, bottle of water, motion sickness meds, bread sticks or soda crackers, sea bands, a couple of plastic bags, a second large sealable bag and a garbage bag.
*Surprise bags either individual or group (shared activity) to be revealed at select times during the trip.
*Buy baking sheets from the dollar store and use as magnetic and activity boards (affix a peel and stick white board or chalkboard sheet). Kids can then use magnetic letters or play with toy cars on a hand drawn roadway. If your child wants to make friendship bracelets simply bring along some embroidery string and a roll of tape to secure the string to a baking sheet.
*Keep entertainment within arm’s reach by filling a suctioned shower caddy with toys and games and securing it to the side window they are sitting next to..
*Make car naps or individual music/podcast time more enjoyable by bringing along throw pillows packed inside regular sized pillowcases and a different coloured sleep mask for each child.
*When travelling with young kids, keep food mess to a minimum by covering your car seats with a fitted sheet. Use twin size sheets for bucket seats and a double or queen for bench seats.
*Make snack time fun by filling plastic Easter eggs with surprise snacks and pack them in an egg carton.
*Before the trip have young kids make their own edible necklaces (e.g. with pretzels, Cheerios, Fruit Loops on string licorice) to enjoy along the way,
*In addition to non-perishable snacks like granola bars and trail mix, assemble and pack single portions of healthy snacks like celery and peanut butter, or assorted raw veggies and dip in lidded mason jars. Place the peanut butter or dip in the bottom and add the vegetables on top for a relatively mess-free snack.
*Create a DIY travel LEGO case by repurposing a metal lunchbox. Insert a green LEGO board and fill with LEGOs.
*Make an “I Spy” bottle by filling a 2 L pop bottle or sealable clear plastic bag with rice, small toys, beads, buttons, and other colorful objects. Create a checklist (visual or text) to go along with the bottle (or bag) and have your child cross off each item once it’s been spied.
Last but not least, bring clean BBQ tongs for all those dropped toys and sippy cups.
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