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Making Memories Parenting Travel

Turn Road Trips into Family Fun

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

We love road trips. We’ve done two cross-country road trips for vacation (around a month long each) in addition to our five cross-country moves (just a road trip with all of our stuff in tow). In fact, a road trip can make a great vacation for families. We’re planning another one for next year, traveling West across Canada, down the West coast, then back through the middle of the states. While we are lucky that we can work and travel, since we own our own business and can work from anywhere, but even if you only plan a short road trip during your annual vacation, it can be well worth it. Our tips for success:

Get Your Kids Involved

To make your kids excited for the upcoming trip, let them in on the planning process. Give them a say as to where you will go on your road trip. Since you will make many stops along the way, you can accommodate your children’s wishes, as well as yours, when it comes to determining what places to visit. The more involved they feel, the more excited they will be about the vacation.

Drive Safely

Don’t drive away without first seeing your mechanic. Let him or her know what you’re planning, and have them give the car a once over. Get the oil changed, make sure you have a functional spare tire, and replace the wipers. For extra peace of mind, we have found it to be well worth the cost to be members of AAA. Their roadside assistance program is incredibly helpful. (Dead battery? Call AAA. Flat tire? Call AAA). And, your AAA membership works in Canada, too (they call it CAA). AAA also gets you discounts to many attractions and hotels.  [MomsGetReal has no affiliate relationship with AAA and is not advertising for them – this is just a personal recommendation].

Bring Snacks and Activities

While your kids will love visiting the destinations you have chosen, the time spent in the car between each new place can get boring. Our kids are great travelers, so headphones, music, and books keep them happy. Since we now have unlimited data through Verizon, they can keep talking, watching, and listening as we travel – even through Canada. [Nope, no affiliate relationship with Verizon either – just love the new unlimited plan and its spillover into Canada since we tend to spend a lot of time there]. To keep kids occupied and happy, bring some snacks for between meals. Water bottles, juice boxes, fruit snacks, and granola bars are a few essential items to have on hand that will not go bad if left in the car. Make sure to pack some age-appropriate activities, too. A portable DVD player can be a lifesaver, but be prepared – one time when we were moving from New York to Nevada, the kids watched The Incredibles the entire way there, over and over again. To this day, I can recite the entire movie.

Help Your Kids Learn

Whether you visit a local place or somewhere far away, your trip can be as educational as it is fun. A road trip is a great way to teach your kids about the places they are visiting as well as the history of the area. And let them teach you, too. We had no idea how much our kids knew about history and geography until we were on the road with them. They taught us as much as we taught them.

Get Directions

The first time we did a road trip, we didn’t have GPS and phones weren’t super smart yet. Navigating required an atlas and a familiarity with how to read a map. These days, all you need is your phone – but because road trips often take you into areas where you don’t have service, we’ve found it beneficial to either print maps or save maps to the phone. There are also some great apps that help you navigate cities and they’ll even work offline (we used one in Germany).

Don’t Push It

Don’t try to drive 12 hours a day. The goal of a real road trip isn’t the destination but the getting there. Plan your stops in places where you can explore and have fun along the way. We try to drive no more than 6 hours, so that we still have some daylight left to explore each town we stop in.

A road trip can be a family adventure and a memory maker. These tips can help make it more fun.