You’re ready to channel your inner Clark Griswold and hit the highway for an old-fashioned summer road trip with kids this summer. But before you peel out of your driveway blasting the song Holiday Road in anticipation of all the adventures you’ll find along the way, here are five things you should know about your upcoming family bonding time.
* This is a guest post by Jenny Silverstone *
5 Things You Should Know Before Taking a Summer Road Trip With Kids
1. You’re Going to Drive Each Other Crazy
Don’t make the mistake of thinking everything is going to be sunshine and roses just because you’re off work and spending time with your family. You’re going to have challenges because of all that togetherness, no matter what ages your children are.
If you have teenagers, be prepared for some eye rolls and normal teenage angst directed your way. It doesn’t mean they aren’t secretly having fun though. They just sometimes have a funny way of showing it.
If you have smaller children, be prepared for constant fighting and bickering. At that age, children feel the need to be constantly entertained, and if they are bored or overly tired, they’ll have epic meltdowns and take it out on each other.
2. Technology is Your Friend
Some parents envision their family vacation as a time to unplug. They want to leave all the electronics at home, and spend one-on-one time with their kids without distractions. But usually by the second or third day, they’re desperately regretting that decision, and if they could pull a Marty McFly, they’d travel back in time to throw that tablet into the suitcase instead of leaving it at home.
Whether it’s a laptop, a phone, a tablet or a DVD player in the car, electronics are a good thing on family vacations, especially if your kids are already used to using them on a daily basis.
Going full-on detox on your kids’ electronics addiction might seem like a wonderful idea to you, but your kids will have a different opinion on that.
While you don’t want them to spend their entire trip staring at a screen, having access to electronics will make your drive and nights at a hotel much more peaceful. The kids will be able to keep themselves entertained, which will give you some much-needed peace and quiet.
3. Pack as Lightly as Possible
When traveling with kids, you’re going to need to pack a lot of stuff, and you’ll also be tempted to pack extra items that you might need in case of emergencies. But you’re going to have to resist that urge to overpack.
While putting in an extra pair of underwear or a spare shirt is fine, it also won’t kill your kids if they have to wear a pair of jeans they wore earlier in the week.
It might seem like a good idea to throw in an extra bottle of sunblock or bottle of Tylenol just in case you need it. But pretty soon, you’re going to have a whole extra bag of items that aren’t necessities.
Unless you’re heading somewhere completely off the grid, you’ll be able to stop at a store to grab over-the-counter medication or extra sunblock if you need it. Save that trunk room and the aggravation of having to carry extra luggage by leaving those items at home.
If your baby is little, however, you’ll want to make sure you leave the house with a well-stocked diaper bag with all the essentials you’ll need. Babies are unpredictable and a full diaper bag can be a big timesaver.
4. Pack Snacks
It doesn’t matter what ages your children are, it’s a universal fact — kids love to eat. If you don’t have a bin of easy-to-reach snacks located in the car, you’re going to be hearing every 30 minutes how hungry your kids are.
You don’t want to have to stop at every rest stop along the way in search of vending machines, so be prepared instead. Fill the bin with an assortment of crackers, chips and fresh fruit and you’ll be good to go.
5. Everyone In the Car Is Making Lasting Memories
Family road trips are something your kids will remember the rest of their lives, and you will too. When your children are grown-ups, you’ll be so glad you took the time for family bonding time. You’ll long for those precious times when your kids were young and you were the center of their world.
Your kids will remember exploring new places and the fun you had along the way. Someday, they’ll want to take their own children on a family road trip because of their experiences with you.
So when things get frustrating, try to remember that. Instead of losing your cool, laugh off the problems you encounter along the way. Think before you react when things go wrong. One big overreaction can ruin the whole trip.
After all, your family may never get the chance to see these sights together again. This time together is precious. Make sure you make the most of it.
Thanks to Jenny Silverstone for sharing her great family road trip tips with us!