I once calculated that I have spent 1500 hours in a car with my child traveling from Florida to North Carolina. It is a 12-hour trip and I went several times a year with my child to see my parents. Traveling in a car with children is not for the faint of heart and it should never be done without proper preparation.
As you get ready to embark on your road trip think about a few considerations. Carefully look at the children’s ages, how long the trip will be, car readiness, and car entertainment for the kids.
If you are traveling with a much younger child, and you do not mind driving in the dark, consider a night trip. If you are going on an eight-hour trip, and you start at four am, half of the trip is over when daylight comes up and the kids start to wake. A four-hour trip dealing with a young child is easier than an eight-hour one. Considering the age of your child while planning a car trip is important.
Children have different spans for tolerating car time. Each child is different, but it is hard to explain to a toddler why he or she is trapped in a car seat and cannot get out. Some children just simply do not do well riding in a car. If that is the case, break the trip up into several days, add fun stops and adventures, and make sure to have lots of in-car entertainment for your children.
Your car must be safe and road ready before you leave your hometown. Have your local car shop check the oil, tires, and alignment before you head out. And even after being properly prepared, make sure you have the emergency funds to handle any car breakdowns or issues. I would also recommend that you belong to a car roadside service club. I once had a flat tire on Interstate 95, but the plan I subscribe to for emergency car needs was there to see me and to help me in less than an hour. Be smart when you travel in the car.
Today’s’ automobiles come in family friendly packages with DVD players and gaming systems. If your car does not have these features, consider renting a car for the trip. If you have it for at least a week, you will be eligible for discounts. Pack games, books (if the child does not get car sick), healthy snacks, drinks, and water to keep the kids engaged and happy. There are also some old car games that your kids could play like the identifying license plates from different states. I also try to pack a few age appropriate audio books in the car for the long trips.