A family road trip can be stressful, especially if you throw toddlers and pets into the mix!   However, a road trip vacation can be one of the most economical ways to travel if you have a large family, not to mention the changes in air travel rules due to COVID-19.  This article will touch on the top tips for a stress-free road trip adventure with your family.  

Preparing for Your Family Road Trip

Preparation is everything when it comes to traveling; this is especially true for family road trips.  Before you head out on your adventure, have a family meeting to set the ground rules.  Meeting with the family beforehand also allows everyone to weigh in on the trip itinerary, packing essentials, travel supplies, snacks, and entertainment for the drive.

During the family meeting, it’s essential to get feedback from everyone.  And, if kids are going on the trip, be sure to ask them for their recommendations.  Most kids will give you their list of important items to bring along, which usually includes a tablet for screen time, music, food, and plenty of space to stretch out in the car.  

family road trip

Take Precautions for Both Comfort and Safety

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we all travel. There are now a few more things to consider when going on a trip, whether by car, plane, or other transportation forms. The good news is that when traveling with family, there’s nothing different from being at home.

However, depending on the length of your road journey, you will almost certainly have to make a few stops for restroom breaks, gas, and meals if you did not pack for meals.  As a result, you’ll want to bring along face masks for everyone in your group just in case you need them. In addition, while many shops and other establishments provide complimentary hand sanitizer or wipes, you should pack extra for your family just in case. 

Before you hit the road, take your car in for routine maintenance checks such as a tune-up, oil change, and tire rotation if needed. Also, make sure you have an emergency road kit packed, which should include first aid items such as band-aids, antiseptic wipes, jumper cables, road flares, and other essentials.  

emergency roadside kit

Consider the Available Space

Another important consideration is space. There’s nothing worse than being in a cramped vehicle for hours on end.  Close quarters can cause tempers to rise and potential arguments between children.  If you are renting a car, be sure to choose something with plenty of room, and if you have a large group, you may want to consider two vehicles for the trip. Having two cars will allow you to separate children who don’t seem to get along into different cars. One disadvantage is that there’s no relief for drive time if there are not multiple adults in each car.    

packing tips family road trip

Family Road Trip Screen Time

Screen time can be a great way to entertain kids of all ages during a family road trip.  When everyone has some sort of entertainment, you hear less of the dreaded phrase, “are we there yet”? Instead, try to mix things up by bringing along tablets, travel DVD players, electronic games, and phones to keep everyone entertained.

The issue we run into is that our boys and girls have a hard time agreeing on what to watch or what audiobook to listen to.  If you have the resources, look into individual displays. Having multiple screens available will help eliminate any issues with the kids wanting to watch different movies and get bored in the car.  Older kids will be happy to play on their phones, while a tablet may be better for younger children.

screen time family trip

Be Generous with Snacks

Another road trip recommendation is to make sure you have plenty of snacks to choose from on the drive.  Consider bringing plastic cups with lids for things like chips, pretzels, and any messy foods.  A cup for snacks helps keep everyone’s hands out of the bag and crumbs off the car’s floorboard.  The more food you pack, the more self-sufficient your road trip will be, resulting in fewer stops on the way to your destination.  (See Impressions in Flight travel snacks for your Family road trip adventure.)

To get the most bang for your family road trip buck, pack nutritious snacks in different containers and distribute them gradually. We suggest healthy snacks such as full-grain crackers, trail mix, and fresh fruits. Protein bars, sandwiches, and individually wrapped cheeses are also great for road trip snacks. Throw in a couple of “forbidden” goodies such as everyone’s favorite candy, snack cakes, and cookies as well for a massive diversion when you need it the most.

travel snacks family trip

Make the Most of Your Pit Stops

Depending on how far you’re driving and the ages of your children, you’ll most likely need to stop several times during the trip. If you’ve traveled the same route before, you’ve undoubtedly identified the best places to rest. If you are looking for a way to keep pit stops to a minimum, use the time as a mini-break to include food, gas, bathroom breaks, and exercise breaks to stretch your legs.  If you have meals packed, stopping at a rest stop or a park allows you to take care of everything in one stop.  It also gives the kids time to unwind and play. 

rest stop travel tips

Create a Reasonable Driving Schedule

My final piece of road trip advice is to be realistic about your schedule. You know your family better than anyone else, so be cautious about when you begin your journey. Examine your route to see when you’ll be passing through important cities to miss rush hour traffic.  Some families may consider traveling through the night to make the most of their vacation time.  Another option is to break up your road trip with a stay at a hotel along the route. 

traffic tips for trips

In conclusion

Planning and going on a family trip can be a lot of fun. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is no matter how much you plan; you will probably never be entirely ready for a road trip with kids. A cooler full of snacks and your Roadside America app won’t comfort a screaming toddler or eliminate the smell of your teenager’s sneakers permeating the entire car.  

The thing to remember is that one day you will look back on your trip and have fond memories of the time spent together.  Not to mention, taking a family road trip can be a fantastic way to explore the country.  We hope you enjoyed our tips and hope they help make your next family vacation a breeze.  When you are ready to stock up on travel products and snacks, Impressions in Flight has you covered.