5 Things You Should Know Before Taking a Summer Road Trip With Your Kids

Road trips are the quintessential summer vacation. We have romantic visions of packing up our families and heading out to a fun destination, ready to make memories that will last a lifetime. But we all know that traveling with kids isn’t quite that easy. So how can you plan a summer road trip with your family without losing your mind? Here’s what you need to know before you go.

1. Plan your route - and stops

Just accept it - this trip is going to take a lot longer than those road trips you took in college. You need a well-planned route (it’s no fun getting lost when you’ve got kids in the back seat), complete with where you’ll take breaks and where you’ll stop each evening.

Your kids’ tolerance for being stuck in a car is much lower than yours, and they need plenty of opportunities to stretch their legs, run around, and take a bathroom break. Make sure the length of each day is tolerable so your kids can wind down and go to bed at a reasonable hour each evening.

2. Pack your vehicle strategically

It’s not enough to be prepared. You’ve got to be able to access all of the things you pack. When packing your vehicle, make sure all the things that you might need in the car are in the same bags and easily accessible. There’s nothing worse than one of the kids needing a change of clothes and having to unpack the whole trunk to get to some clean ones.

3. Plan for entertainment

Some kids will be perfectly happy looking out the window at the scenery or spend the bulk of the ride sleeping. Others will need a little more help to pass the time. Be prepared and put together travel-friendly activities to keep everyone happy. Electronic games and travel apps are great because there are no pieces to lose. Remember the old license plate game? There’s an app for that now.

Don’t forget to pack travel chargers or extra batteries, and it would be wise to invest in a good headset. There are some really great ones these days that have a “sharing port” so two kids can watch a show on one device - no fighting!

4. Provide travel-friendly snacks

Kids make messes when they eat. That’s even truer when they eat in the car. Pack easy-to-grab, easy-to-open, easy-to-eat snacks for the car. You can also even buy some travel bowls and cups to try and minimize the mess of eating during traveling. Good, easy food options are granola bars, food pouches, ants on a log (pre-made, of course), crackers, muffins, and nuts (if your child is old enough to eat them without the risk of choking).

5. Prepare for messes

You don’t want to get to your destination and feel like your car needs a complete detail job; you want to clean up the messes as you go. Have a bag designated for trash in both the front and back seats. Keep a full pack of baby wipes handy for all-purpose cleaning. If you’re really hard-core, get a mini vacuum cleaner for the car.

If you have older toddlers still in car seats, get a car seat liner for easy clean-up in case they have an accident. And it doesn’t hurt to keep a potty seat in the car in case one of your kids can’t make it to your planned rest stop. Mitigating the mess as you go will do wonders to keep your sanity on the road.

In the end

Road tripping with kids can be fun, but it requires a little extra planning and preparation. Remember that little ones need more breaks and more entertainment than you do. You’ll also need to be prepared for spills and accidents. But since moms are experts in preparedness, you should be just fine. Now start planning that summer vacation!

Jenny is the mother of two, a blogger, and has loved taking road trips since she was a little girl. When she's not dreaming about her next summer vacation, you'll find her giving actionable parenting advice, breastfeeding tips & more at Mom Loves Best.

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