Planning a family road trip? Here’s how to create happy family memories that will last a lifetime.
LET THE KIDS BE INVOLVED IN PLANNING
Take out your family road map and dedicate a couple of family nights to planning the trip together. Do you plan to visit any historical sights along the way? If your children are old enough, allowed each one of them to research and be the tour guide at each site. This is not only educational but will also make the trip more interactive and fun. Bring comfort items along. It’s quite normal for younger children to become stressed on a long trip. Be prepared by bringing along some of their favorite comfort object such as a cherished stuff toy or blanket. Car games, coloring books, and even sketch pads are helpful. Colored pencils work better than crayons which may melt in the heat.
CHECK THE CAR FOR SAFETY AND MAINTENANCE
Have your car well inspected and serviced to the manufacturers recommendations. Check your light signals wiper blades (including the rear), horn, and radio. Check fluid levels, belts, caps, and filters. Check and adjust tire pressure. Correct tire pressure equals safer driving and a better fuel consumption. Make sure your spare tire is usable and have a kit in the trunk.
PLAN EXTRA TIME FOR FUN
Make sure you plan stops at spots along the way for a little fun. Bring food and drinks in a cooler for an impromptu picnic at lunchtime. Baseball and gloves, Frisbee, Nerf guns, etc. add to the fun while providing a little activity. Also remember to plan restroom breaks. Allow a few extra minutes for kids to run around and stretch on these periodic stops. It will save your sanity.
You may also want to consider renting or buying a mobile DVD player if your vehicle is not already equipped. This can help pass the long hours on the road. Bringing a few favorite DVDs or renting or buying a couple of new ones can make the trip a lot more bearable for all.
BRING YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL-SAFE SNACKS
If you allow snacks in the car, a few travel safe snacks are appreciated. Try to avoid chocolate or sugary treats which tend to melt in the car and leave a mess. Sugar-hyped children and a confined space don’t mix well. Sugar-based products can also cause stomach upset when riding in a vehicle. Travel safe snacks to consider including are pretzels, animal crackers, all natural fruit rolls, raisins, cereal, grapes, granola bars, and cheese sticks.
SHARE WITH TEENS
If you are traveling with teenagers who have a driver’s license, give them an opportunity to share driving time. Make sure that one parent is in the front passenger seat awake and alert at all times. Using teen drivers can give adults a needed break and give the teen driver some experience and some appreciation for what adult drivers experience on a road trip.
SET THE CAR RULES
Before you embark on your journey, write down a set of car rules (keep hands to yourself, use a quiet voice, clean up your trash, etc.). A lack of rules invites misbehavior. One technique is called “dime fines”. Each child starts the trip with the roll of dimes or quarters. Each time there is a violation of the rules, the child involved puts a coin into a jar you bring along. Whatever they have left at the end of the trip, they can spend. This provides fun motivation to keep the peace and obey the rules.
FAMILY ROAD GAMES
Suggested car games from Discovery Bay to pass the time and make your road trip more enjoyable
NAME THAT PLATE
Each person takes a turn at making up a silly sentence from the license plates are passing cars. Or spell out a word which includes the letters on the license plate (e.g. TIB could be “to infinity and beyond” or “Tinkerbell”).
THE ALPHABET GAME
Look for signs starting with the letter “a” and going all the way to “z”. Or look for objects following the colors of the rainbow (red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple).
One person starts with the first line of the story. Each person adds another line to the story. Or make this into a memory game by repeating each person’s line before adding your sentence.
Enjoy and make some family memories!
Originally from PRO Pulse July-August 2009
By Mike Murphy