There is nothing quite like a family road trip to bring your little clan together. Sightseeing, laughter, and unexpected situations all come together to make memories that will last a lifetime. That said, traveling with kids is not all fun and games.
As a parent, you likely already know about all the little surprises kids can throw your way. The spills, trips, and boo-boos are just the beginning of the challenges they’ll put in your path, and none of these things go away when you decide to take a family vacation. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say that things are made much more difficult when you aren’t at home.
Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for the worst while planning for the best, so you can ensure your family has a great trip no matter what happens. Of course, you know the usual tips of keeping baby wipes on hand, bringing along spill-proof sippy cups, and packing extra clothes in the diapers bag. Therefore, we are going to get right down to some more specific tips for car travel with little ones.
Nothing can make a car ride feel longer than a severe case of the “Are we there yets?”
For this reason, it is important to have plenty of handy tricks up your sleeve to stop that question in its tracks. There are the most obvious choices, such as a classic game of “I Spy” or a rousing round of the “Alphabet Game”. However, you will probably want to get a bit more creative than that. Try these simple but effective ideas:
- Window Clings — If your kids are sitting near windows, a simple set of window clings can entertain them for hours. Similarly, reusable stickers such as Colorforms can also be used on the windows to make fun scenes.
- Pipe Cleaners — Pipe cleaners are cheap, easy to pack, and make awesome building tools. Buy a bag before your trip and hand them over when the kids get bored, with a challenge to build something specific. You’ll be surprised by how quiet things become.
- LEGO Boxes — Make travel building block kits by glueing a LEGO base to the top of a pencil box. Fill the box with LEGO blocks, then throw in some instructions for building a few different things with the blocks included. You can find lots of printable LEGO model instructions online.
Make “Fun Stops”
Of course, even the most genius of backseat activity ideas isn’t going to keep the kids happy forever. Therefore, you will want to build “fun stops” into your trip. These stops can be taken at parks, rest stops with playgrounds, or fast food joints with climbing structures. Such stops can also happen in conjunction with food and bathroom breaks, and will give the kids a chance to run off excess energy.
Find these stopping points on a map before you leave in order to ensure you will find such places.
Not very many kids will voluntarily nap, and even mentioning a rest time is the best way to ensure your little ones never sleep. However, you can gently encourage napping in the car by having a designated quiet time, taking away all toys and books, playing soft music, and offering pillows and blankets.
Reduce Car Time
As an adult, you might enjoy long drives on scenic country roads. However, kids don’t tend to appreciate these things, meaning you will likely want to reduce car time as much as possible on your trip. The most obvious way to do this is to choose the absolute shortest route available.
However, there are other ways to cut your car time even shorter. For instance, knowing exactly where you will be stopping in order to avoid any dawdling or wandering can help a bit. Additionally, reserving parking in busy cities before you arrive can help tremendously. Fortunately, parking reservations can be made quickly and easily using the ParqEx app, meaning you can avoid driving in circles looking for a place to leave your car once you reach your destination.
Choose Your Lodging Wisely
Last but certainly not least, you will want to choose your lodging wisely. A fancy hotel might be great for you, but if they frown on noise and don’t offer a playground or swimming pool, its not the best option for your kids. Opt instead for a clean, comfy, family-friendly hotel with a pool and playground, or even an entire house with individual bedrooms found using a site such as Airbnb.
Want to learn more about how ParqEx can help you plan your vacation parking? Please contact us today.