“Road trip!” you exclaim, “that’s a great idea! We can go to the beach and make sandcastles.” Your kids are not as excited. They’re more concerned with what they will do in the car for six hours on end. Planning is key to a successful family road trip, especially when traveling with children. To help get your gears turning, here are some tips that should be taken into consideration prior to setting out on your journey:
Why is it important to have a plan when traveling with children
Traveling with children is supposed to be an enjoyable experience for the family. But this isn’t always the case as things can go wrong on a trip, especially if you didn’t plan it well enough. You need to have a game plan in order to make your vacation stress-free, fun and safe, here’s how:
1) Always prepare your children for a trip
You may think that it is enough to give them little information about the place you’ll be going, like telling them about the time difference or where they can and cannot go but always tell them in advance. This will help avoid confusion and miscommunication when you get there. You also need to know what’s new and exciting to them. If you are going on a different time zone, explain what time it will be where they are and vice versa so that they don’t get confused when you tell them something is bedtime for them at the moment but in reality, it’s not.
2) To keep things short or long term
This is very important if you are planning a trip abroad. Traveling with kids can be expensive and time-consuming so it’s best to plan your trips ahead. Planning in advance will also help you save money for future travels. If you need to leave them behind, make sure they know in advance and ask their opinion about it as well as get their input when planning things. This way they will feel like they are part of your travel and not just an accessory.
3) Take care of your child’s routine
Changing the child’s routine can affect their mood, so do take note if there is something that is set in stone for them such as meal times or nap time. If you need to take long trips, it is best to ask your pediatrician first how long they can go without eating or sleeping.
4) Remember, your child will always be a child
Although you may expect them to act like an adult or try and remember everything that you say, they are still kids and sometimes have tantrums because of that. Prepare for the worst and have a flexible plan in case they do get into arguments, like giving them something to do when they are bored.
What are the some great tips on planning road trip with kids
So you are looking to plan a summer road trip with your kids and make some family memories. You know that there is no better way to create life-long memories than a road trip across America!
We have put together this helpful list of tips for planning road trips with children which we hope can help you out:
- Pack a GPS or make sure your phone has GPS enabled. We recommend using a dedicated GPS unit instead of your cell phone if you can. Your cell phone may not work well in remote areas, but even so it is good to have an alternative back-up plan for when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with your location needs.
- Plan your route around places that will interest you and your children.
- Determine the amount of time you have to spend on this road trip. This will help determine how far you can get each day, as well as where to stop overnight if necessary (such as at a hotel or campground).
- Plan a rough itinerary for your trip, but don’t be too rigid about it. Things come up and you won’t want to miss an opportunity to see something amazing if it happens to come up last minute.
- Consider making hotel or camping reservations in advance only if absolutely necessary (or if you can book a reservation at an amazing rate). If you wait until the last minute, you may be able to find some great deals and discounts.
- Know where your closest major highway is in case of emergencies (such as flat tire or overheating engine).
- Choose hotels/motels that have a pool or preferably a water park. With young children, this is an absolute must! Also make sure the hotel/motel you are considering has any other amenities your family requires (such as restaurants nearby, free breakfast, microwaves and fridges in room).
- Bring plenty of entertainment with you. Books, DVD’s & CD’s, electronic gadgets like iPods and tablets, etc. are all good choices. Also make sure your kids have some sort of activity for the car such as a travel colouring book or word search book (we love the Usborne series).
- Consider staying at campgrounds if you plan on camping during your road trip, this is a good way to save money while still being able to camp. If you are considering buying an America the Beautiful Annual Pass, consider doing so before your road trip – this pass will give you free entry into all National Parks and most other Federal Recreational Areas in the United States (which can save you a ton of money vs paying for each individual entry).
- Research gas prices before you go. Knowing where the cheapest places to fill up are will help save you money over the long-haul and make your road trip even more affordable.
- If possible, try to avoid driving in big cities as traffic can be extremely congested, especially during rush hour. Instead, consider taking alternate routes through smaller towns and suburbs.
- If you are going on a road trip in an RV, then the tips above will still apply to you, but keep in mind that you will need to find places to park your RV overnight.
- Don’t forget to download any necessary apps before your road trip. Here is a helpful list of the best navigation apps for Android & iPhones . Also, if you are travelling internationally, make sure your phone plan allows international use – many plans these days have free roaming in Canada & Mexico, but be sure to check out the fine print first.
- Make sure you have a good car kit with you! Here is our list of fun things to put in your car kit .
- And lastly, most importantly, remember this will – most likely – be one of the best experiences of your trip
Observe these tips when travelling with children in a vehicle:
1) Seatbelt laws – remember that every state has different requirements, so you may have to check those particular laws. That being said, somewhere around age 4 is usually the earliest a child can begin sitting in the backseat without a booster seat or car seat, but some states require that children sit in boosters until they are 8 years of age. In my jurisdiction, a child must be at least 5 years of age before they can sit in the back without anything other than their regular belt on (i.e., no boosters, car seats or other such devices).
2) No riding in the front seat – this is a federal law and applies to all vehicles on US roads. Full stop. Kids under age 13 cannot ride up front unless driven by a grandparent, or they are at least 5’1″ (155cm) tall, or supervised by an adult and properly restrained in the front seat.
3) Safety seats and boosters – you can use a safety seat (e.g., infant carrier, baby car seat) until they are at least 40lbs (18kg), longer if they are still rear-facing in the back seat. From there, your child must go into a booster seat until they are 8 years old. If the child is over 80lbs (36kg), they can go into a regular seat belt and have it on properly, but until then…booster!
4) Make sure your kid is safe – if you do not feel certain that your kid is ready to graduate from a safety seat to a booster seat, then they should stay in a safety seat until you are sure that they can do it properly. This is for you and your child’s safety! You would not want something to happen because of your neglect (e.g., serious injury or death), so be proactive and make the decision to keep them safe by enforcing laws such as these.
5) Airbags – always sit your child in the back seat of a vehicle until they are at least 13 years old. This is another federal law that must be followed to avoid severe injury or death to your child from an airbag deploying on them.
6) Do not drive with your kid in your lap! I know it is tempting, but they are so heavy that they can cause you to lose control of the steering wheel. Not only that, but it takes away from your ability to react quickly if there is a dangerous situation and you need to stop or take evasive maneuvers.
7) Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle – having some water bottles, granola or protein bars, a first aid kit that includes bandages, anti-bacterial cream and pain relievers (e.g., ibuprofen). As well as an extensive flashlight with extra batteries for the car in case you get stuck somewhere.
8) Keep things organized – try to organize everything so that you know where it is so that you do not have to go searching for it when you need it. For example, put your first aid kit in an easy-to-access place with the flashlight nearby.
Should you take your pets along on your road trip
Traveling with your pet is always an experience. Many people take their pets on vacation so they don’t have to worry about who will be caring for them while they are away. However, the stressors that come along with traveling can sometimes have a negative impact on our furry friends.
Whether it’s just a road trip or you’re backpacking through Europe, here are some things you should keep in mind while traveling with your pet.
Most pets handle road trips pretty well. However, there are a few things to watch out for when you’re on the open road together:
-Get your pet used to its carrier before leaving home. You don’t want to have to drag your cat out from under the bed when you’re almost to your destination
-Make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag and has up-to-date tags on any collars that it’s wearing. This is especially important if you’re taking a trip across state lines or the border
-Take frequent breaks so your pet can stretch its legs and stretch out in its carrier
-Include plenty of water on your trips so your pet can stay hydrated. Pets need fresh water too!
-Make sure you use a harness instead of a collar to walk or leash your pet outside the carrier
-If you’re driving long distances, don’t forget about food and snacks for your pet
-If your pet has allergies, take an allergy medicine about 30 minutes before you start driving so that it doesn’t get too drowsy on the way
-Don’t feed your pets right before you leave. It’s a good idea to give them only a small meal in the morning and save any major eating for after you arrive.
-If you plan on having your pet in the back seat, keep it restrained and safe. A carrier or harness will do the trick
-Avoid music with a lot of loud drums if your pets are skittish. This can trigger motion sickness for them
-Let your pet ride in the car while you’re driving around town so they get used to the vibrations and sounds of the road
-If you’re traveling on an airplane, make sure you research your airline’s rules on animals. Most airlines have a maximum weight allowance for pets in carriers. Some airlines won’t let some breeds board at all because they are viewed as dangerous or prone to health problems
Do’s and Dont’s when traveling with children
The next time you are planning a trip, try to think about how it would be to travel with children. It might sound like a fun idea at first but when you plan ahead and actually start traveling with your kids , you’ll soon realize that this isn’t as much fun as it sounds. Traveling with children can be really hard if you don’t plan properly.
Some people love to travel and consider it an exciting event, while others are just appalled by the whole idea of being away from home for more than one day at a time, let alone with children! In truth, traveling is not easy with children but if you plan well in advance and prepare yourself, it can be a lot of fun. Below, you will find a list of Do’s and Dont’ s when planning a trip with children.
Choose your destination carefully
Believe it or not, the destination that you choose to travel to can make all the difference in terms of how easy it would be for you to travel with children. For instance, if you decide to take your kids to a theme park, you may have some difficulties keeping track of them in case they wander off.
Don’t forget the essentials
When traveling with children, it is important that you focus on bringing along all the things that your child will need during the trip. This includes toys and books, extra clothes and even diapers. It can be quite frustrating if you forget an essential such as a diaper-bag or toys to play with while on the trip.
Keep your kids busy
It is not always easy to keep children entertained especially when they are tired of traveling and just want to get off the ride. To avoid this situation, you need to make sure that you have planned activities beforehand so that your children are not bored during the trip.
Shop for food carefully
If you want to enjoy a carefree meal during the trip without being interrupted by whining kids, then it is important that you pack their favorite snacks and toys before starting on your journey. This way, your kids will be kept busy playing with the toys or eating their favorite snacks.
Look for a child-friendly hotel
If you want to have a smooth and enjoyable trip, then it is important that you keep your children happy right from the start of the trip till its end. When booking your hotel room, try to look for a hotel that has friendly staff and amenities that your kids will love it.
Let them help you plan the trip
If you let children take part in planning the trip, then they are more likely to be excited about it too. For instance, you can let them choose where they want to go or what they want to eat on the trip.
Keep your kids hydrated
For every trip, you must make sure that the kids have enough water to stay healthy. This is particularly important when traveling during hot seasons or climates. Therefore, it is advisable that you carry plenty of bottled water with you as this will help keep your children hydrated and healthy throughout the journey.
Check the weather forecast
When traveling with children, it’s important that you consider the weather forecast for your destination so that you can dress accordingly. For instance, if you are going to a place where it is cold, make sure that your kids have warm clothing to put on. Also, remember to check out a travel insurance policy before leaving home.
Travel during school holidays
School holidays are usually the best times to travel with kids as you will find flights and hotels way cheaper than usual, which makes it easier for you to travel extensively with your children. On top of that, there won’t be a lot of people on the roads and lines at attractions will be shorter.
Use child car seats
It is essential that you use the appropriate child car seats for your kids when traveling with them in a car. This ensures their safety as well as peace of mind on your part while traveling, allowing you to enjoy yourself better. Before hitting the road, always double-check your kids’ seat belts and make sure they are sitting comfortably.
So, do you have a plan? Now that we’ve given you some tips and tricks to making your next family road trip more enjoyable for the whole gang, it’s time to take action. Planning is key when traveling with children so don’t forget these important steps before setting out on your journey!