Once a year, go someplace you have never been before
The summer months of July and August, at least in the Northern hemisphere, bring sun, heat and lots of free time for family vacations and travel!
We know that traveling with kids and pets in a car for several hours can sometimes feel like a daunting task, which is why we’re happy to share with you a few handy tips and tricks that are sure to make road tripping that bit easier.
Indeed, the family road trip is a classic and increasingly popular form of vacation – buckling up in the family vehicle and enjoying the scenic sights and sounds the open road has to offer. While a family road trip might seem like a complex adventure, it doesn’t always have to be!
The right planning and preparation will go a long way to ensuring a smooth trip for the whole family.
Some things to consider include the destination and the duration of the trip. Where are you going, how long will it take to get there and how long will you be staying? Popular destinations include the beach or the lake, the countryside, or a small and interesting town.
The duration of your trip will vary, but it’s always important to allow for traffic, delays and other things that are out of your control. It’s always a good idea to plan for more time than expected, including stops along the way to your destination so as to remain flexible. Scheduling departure times according to your kids’ nap times or starting longer stretches after activities along the way can particularly help ensure a more relaxed road trip.
Here are some general recommendations when it comes to traveling times with kids:
For Infants and Toddlers (0-3 years old) we would recommend to choose a shorter travel durations to accommodate their need for frequent breaks and naps.
Pre-schoolers (3-5 years old) can handle longer trips that typically range from 4-6 hours per day, with breaks every 1-2 hours for stretching, restroom breaks, and playtime.
Elementary School Kids (6-10 years old) can tolerate longer drives that typically range from 6-8 hours per day. You can even involve them in the trip planning process, allowing them to choose some destinations or activities.
Preteens and Teenagers (11+ years old) can handle longer road trips, ranging from 8-10 hours or more per day, depending on their endurance, and can be involved in navigation and map reading, giving them a sense of responsibility.
Being prepared means packing the right things for the trip! This means taking along with you enough water, snacks, and groceries for the entire family – and if you’re lucky enough to be traveling with a pet, don’t forget their food, snacks and toys!
Other things to include on the list are appropriate medicine, caps, sunscreen, and other items, just to be on the safe side.
Speaking of the safe side, it’s always important to make sure your vehicle is up to date in terms of safety and you’ve had your local mechanic carry out a check upfront to make sure that tires, oil, brakes and the air conditioning are fine. You can find out more about that here.
If you have an electric car, you should check the reach and range of your car and where you can charge it on your way.
When traveling with children and pets, safety should be your top priority. Here are some further essential items to be sure of a secure journey:
Traveling it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller
Keeping your loved ones entertained during the trip is crucial! Be sure to pack enough books, magazines, and other fun analog activities. Of course, be sure to pack your phone chargers, too! Speaking of phones, bear in mind that the road offers beautiful, breath-taking scenery.
Special tip: While this may take a little time, once in a while – and especially if you feel the kids are getting antsy or restless – be sure to stop, stretch and enjoy the views and maybe take a picture or two. After all, making memories is what a road trip is all about!
Weather-appropriate clothing: check the weather forecast for your destination and pack clothing accordingly. Include layers for unpredictable weather changes.
Comfortable shoes: pack sturdy and comfortable footwear for walking, hiking, and exploring various destinations.
Extra clothing: don’t forget to pack extra sets of clothes for kids and pets in case of accidents or unexpected situations.
Prescription medication: take along an ample supply of any prescription medications required by your family members, including both kids and pets.
Over-the-counter medications: include items such as pain relievers, antihistamines, motion sickness medication, and any specific medications for your pets.
First-aid kit: pack a comprehensive first-aid kit containing bandages, antiseptic ointment, tweezers, thermometer, and other essential medical supplies.
Paper bags: be prepared, just in case the children need to vomit
Books and magazines: take along a selection of age-appropriate reading materials for both kids and adults.
Music playlists to create the right vibe when on the road.
Travel games and trivia cards to keep everyone entertained during long stretches of driving. These can include road trip-specific games like “I Spy,” “20 Questions,” and trivia games focused on landmarks and attractions along your route.
Headphones: ensure each family member has their own pair of headphones for individual entertainment without disturbing others.
Healthy snacks: pack a mixture of fresh fruits, granola bars, trail mix, and other nutritious snacks to keep hunger at bay between meals.
Sustainable and refill water: carry an ample supply of sustainable and reusable water bottles to stay hydrated throughout the trip.
Pet food and treats: pack enough pet food for the entire duration of the journey, along with their favorite treats.
Dietary supplements: if any family member or pet requires specific dietary supplements, ensure you have an adequate supply for the trip.
Capture your road trip memories by packing a travel journal or scrapbook. You can document your adventures, glue in ticket stubs or postcards, and write down memorable moments along the way. It’s a creative way to preserve your road trip memories and reflect on them in the future.
If you’re planning on camping or stopping off at scenic spots, take along a portable camping hammock. It’s a fantastic way to relax and unwind in nature while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Set it up between trees or use a hammock stand if necessary.