With millions of Canadians on the road during festive periods, summer camps and holidays, road trips are almost a staple in the holiday culture that every parent would most likely experience once in a lifetime.
Depending on how prepared you are, a road trip with your kids can either be one of the most memorable experiences you will have as a family or stress-filled journey that will easily make you think about turning the car around and heading back home. Before you get on the road, ensure you make adequate plans on how to spice up the trip and keep everyone happy. These top 10 parent tips will surely come in during your lengthy expeditions.
1. Plan your route
There is a popular saying that goes “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”. Irrespective of how many times you’ve taken the kids on this journey, the key here is to treat the journey like you’re going for the first time.
While experience can help you navigate the road with perfection, consider the fact that the route may have changed or perhaps some roads are temporarily closed. Rather than simple rely on Google maps, take out the atlas and plan the best-possible route for your trip. The worst thing you don’t need happening to you is being stuck in traffic or getting stranded in the middle of the road with your stressed-out kids.
2. Safety first, plan for emergencies
As far as kids are concerned, emergencies can be anything from a sudden crave of strawberry-flavored lollipops to the need to use the restroom in the middle of nowhere. Emergencies also include checking the car’s engine oils, hydraulics, braking system, battery terminals and much more. Be sure to go with enough supplies for the kids so they can eat or snack whenever they want. Pack extra blankets, diapers, ready to eat foods and beverages. You should also have a flashlight, band-aids, sanitizers, jumper cables, antiseptics, fire extinguishers and a first aid kit to keep your family safe on the ride.
3. Put the bag of essentials within reach
This bag is the one that should contain your baby wipes, water bottles, diapers, coins for tolls, health insurance card, painkillers, snacks, juices, and biscuits. You will need to store this near the front seat to ensure that it is easily accessible at all times.
It is noteworthy that you try to avoid snacks that can cause your kids to stool, you don’t want to have to stop after every 20 minutes on a long road trip
4. Leave at night or very early in the morning
Except you have poor eyesight or can’t drive when it's late or at early hours, one of the best times for you to start your voyage is late at night or in the early hours of the day. This will definitely be of numerous advantage if you aren’t prepared to listen to the “are we there yet” query all day. Leave at hours where your kids are asleep also allows you and your spouse to have deeper conversations that your busy lives may have interrupted and lessens the stress of keeping the kids occupied at the same time while you’re driving.
5. Forget riding shotgun
It is almost customary and very understandable to want to have your partner in the front seat of the car. However, having your spouse in the back for at least sometime during the trip can help the children stay organized and will make chatting and playing games significantly easier. An adult presence also means your kids don’t go on doing something menacing to each other or the packed supplies.
6. Surprise the kids with some activities and games
Ah! The activities. Kids want something fun and exciting to keep their minds going. The moment they fall into that state of boredom, they are coming at you with all the attention you do not particularly need if you are going to be driving for hours.
Ensure that you hit the store and buy a bunch of their favourite toys before you hit the road but make sure they don’t know about it. As soon as it begins to look like they are losing attention in the trip, hand them their surprises and watch them stare in awe.
7. Bring forth the imagination
We already talked about fun and games but there’s more. Go to the local library and sign out a handful of books together. Some chapter books, some practical reading, and some even picture ones. Variety is good here – especially if you are dealing with different age groups at the same time. Get the kids started on some of the books even before the trip. This way you have something they are looking forward to reading with you and are already engaged.
You can also come with a CD for poems that you regularly sing together and make the whole trip an acapella exhibition.
Another great source to keep the imaginations running are audiobooks. Try bringing audiobooks as you can play to tell stories to your kids and keep the whole atmosphere calm and quiet while everyone listens.
8. Take planned and unplanned breaks
Take your breaks
Breaks are always a good idea when on roadtrips
If you’ve planned your route, then you probably know all the exciting places and things to do on the trip. As you proceed on your journey, make stops at fun houses, amusement parks and attractive outfits to break the boredom, stretch your legs and make memories. This is also your perfect opportunity to have picnic, refuel your stomach and take pictures.
Should you find a floating mountain or a UFO on your trip, waste no time in taking an unplanned break to explore and take even more pictures. Just don’t spend all day having fun (LOL).
9. Stop the “are we there yet questions”
Children are very inquisitive by nature so you should expect questions like “are we there yet” and “how much longer”. One way to put your kids out of their misery is to hand them quarters and take one off their hands every time they ask how soon you are arriving at your destination. Alternatively, you can simply hand them mask and drop a sticker on where you are and where you are going. This ought to keep the questions answered.
10. Don’t forget to be a parent
Lastly, remember that the fun of road trips lies in creating memories and connecting with your kids. Do not appear too busy as to not talk to your children or be quick to cut them off. Enjoy yourself, speak to them and indulge them in some merry tales and goodies along the way.
And that's a wrap!
There you have it. Our top 10 parenting tips will keep the peace and fun as you move around in your 60km/h moving the car on a journey to far far away. This way, the next time you are on a road trip with your kids, it becomes something to anticipate and not one to dread.