Embarking on a long road trip can be quite a task, most especially if you’ve got a bunch of excited kids seated in the back seat.
However, a family trip needs to be carefully planned out if you’re to avoid boring dead silent moments and constants tantrums. For Villano, a freelance writer who blogs frequently about family travel at Wandering Pod, he has traveled extensively, by plane and automobile, with his wife and young daughters. One major takeaway for him over the years is that careful planning is often the difference between a fun family trip and a disappointing attempt at adventure.
"The key is to plan ahead and know your kids well enough to know how each will manage being in the car for an extended period of time," said Villano in a report. “Then work around that to come up with a travel itinerary that maximizes fun and minimizes stress.”
Here are 5 expert tips to have a fun-fulfilled family trip:
1. Make the most of your pit-stops
Gone are the days when you could drive for 10 hours and over 700 miles in a stretch with just few quick pit-stops. Life with kids means you’d need to adjust your expectations and make more frequent stops to avoid frequent tantrums.
Putting in more time for the journey when possible contributes to a more pleasant ride, making it worthwhile and memorable, said Rainer Jenss, the founder and president of the Family Travel Association.
Take some time to the research interesting spots along your travel path as it not only ensures the driver isn’t fatigued butalso goes a long way towards keeping the peace while you’re making tracks.
“Use a website or app such as Road Food to find cool non-chain eateries along your route, then opt for sit-down meals instead of a drive-through. Try to pair those stops with a quick trip to a nearby playground or park,” said Jenss, a resident of Nyack, New York, who drove his family across the United States for seven weeks.
"The more opportunities you give kids to reset their perspective, the more patience they will have for long journeys," said Villano who avoids travelling more than five or ix hours in a day. "To kids it feels like hours because they forget they’ve just spent three hours in the car."
2. Ensure to use a reliable car rental service
According to a recent AAA survey, 64 percent of Americans plan to travel 50 miles or more by car this summer. Moving around a new city in a private car with just your family in it is much better than travelling in a bus with a large number of folks.
Getting a reliable car rental service is important and that’s why visiting https://www.holidayautos.com makes car rental and other services quite easy. You get to find the best price in car rental worldwide and about 30,000 pickuplocations in all major airports and also downtown. Their Customer Care Team is available 7 days of the week, so if your plans change you’re not left stranded. They equally offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before your pickup time with most of their suppliers and there’s zero charge on credit card fees.
3. Limit screen time and play more games
Portable screens make it a lot easier to just hand a child a movie to watch throughout the duration of the trip, but if you’re trying to go old school and maintain your screen-time limits while travelling, there are various ways to keep kids engaged.
"I know the wonderment in the simple is timeless," said Mark Ellwood, Conde Nast Traveler contributor, about classic car games like I Spy. "This reminds yourself that you’re not a terrible parent if the iPad dies."
The old standby car games, including license plate bingo and the alphabet scavenger hunt, can keep younger kids engaged. Jenss said he and his family would play games based on whatever they were listening to on the radio. For example, while traversing the Midwest, they heard a lot of country music, so they created a game where everyone chose a word (girlfriend, truck, etc.). The person whose word cropped up first in a song was the winner, or they would do points for the words mentioned most frequently.
This not only creates new beautiful memories but keeps everyone happy and engaged.
4. Ignore the petty fights
Irrespective of the precision in planning a family road trip, every child confined in a space will eventually reach their limit at some point. However, parents should try to ignore petty disagreements like over who crossed the line in the middle of the seat, or who is looking at whom, said Lynne Ticknor, education director of the Parenting Education Program in Kensington, Maryland.
"Most times kids squabble or get into fights because they are trying to pull the parent in for attention," she said. "We would advise, as much as possible, not to pay attention to sibling squabbles. The more you ignore it, the more that they’ll realize that’s not the way to get attention."
However, if after ignoring the fighting, it still doesn’t stop or escalates to the point where someone is in danger (hitting or bullying), it might require an immediate consequence, such as sitting in the vehicle’s third row for an hour or losing some device time. Ticknor equally advised that if it becomes a distraction for the driver, “you should pull over in a safe spot and calmly wait for the storm to pass. But resist the urge to yell.”
"Put the car in park and just wait," said Ticknor. "Eventually, the kids will realize you’ve stopped. Then the driver can very calmly say, ‘When there’s fighting in the back seat, I can’t concentrate on driving, and distracted driving is dangerous.’ There’s no lecturing, no bribing, just a very simple statement to explain it to the kids."
Ideally, she advised that a conversation be had prior to the trip, just so the kids would understand the reason for you pulling over.
5. Pack the right snacks/food
Parking to stretch your legs at a restaurant or a park when it’s mealtime might be a great plan, but if a parent had to do this every time one of their kids gets hungry or needs to use the restroom, a reasonable trip could quickly escalate into an epic journey. Therefore, it’s important to pack plenty of healthy and fun snacks for the road.
According to Jenss, “the more involved the kids are in choosing and packing the snacks, the more likely they will be to consume their road food without complaining.”
"The key to any planning is to get the kids involved in everything," he said. "Then they’re invested in it because they made the decision, even if it’s something you’re planning to do during the trip. If you know you’re going to a museum, if you ask them what they want to see, and let them make the plan, they’ll like it more."