Today, perhaps because of the availability of relatively cheap air fares, great car rental services around the country, and long distance bus routes, family road trips around the USA have become more of a novelty than they were in times gone by. In the past, packing your family and your stuff into the car was the main way of taking a vacation in, or travelling around, the country.
It could be said that today’s road tripping families are luckier than those in the past … there are better en route facilities, finding information is so easy with the internet and smart phone, kids have a wider array of activities and devices to keep them occupied, vehicles are more modern, and so on. Still, long journeys with restless children can still present certain challenges.
Here are some top tips for having a great US road trip with the kids:
Think About Driving Times
It may be well worth doing some of the driving, especially along long, boring stretches of road with very little to look at out of the window, very early in the morning or later on in the evening / at night. If you time your driving for when the kids are tired and would usually be sleeping, it can be pretty easy to have them sleeping in the backseat whilst you focus on the road ahead. Make sure you have comfortable pillows and a couple of blankets. Their favourite toy helps too, and putting them in their PJs reinforces the idea that it is time to sleep.
Know the Facilities along Your Route
Of course you are more than likely to spot things and make spontaneous stops to explore – that’s half of the fun of road trips! – but having a decent idea of what lies ahead can help you to plan a bit better and prevent your kids from getting hungry and cranky. You can also make rest stops whilst you have the chance and try to prevent little toilet cries from the backseat when you are far from any public conveniences. Making a note of telephone numbers of places along the way before you set off can also help lots if you want to call and check on directions whilst on the road.
Prepare a Clean-Up Kit
Messes will happen. Whether it’s a spilt drink, dropped food, or an unfortunate case of travel sickness, having the tools to hand to clean up swiftly can prevent a whole lot of upset – both from you and the kids! Wet wipes, tissues, and empty plastic bags are the basics. A couple of big plastic bin liners (clean!) are also great for keeping seats dry if your kid ends up wet and vice versa. An easy-to-access change of clothes, for kids and parents, is also advised.
Have a Separate Overnight Bag
Having the essentials, such as night clothes, toiletries, your kids favourite teddy bear, and a clean change of clothes, in a small bag can be really convenient when you are just making an overnight stop somewhere. It saves you from having to root around in your main luggage when you arrive and first thing in the morning.
Prepare a Fun Selection of Activities and Games
Keeping kids occupied when they are sitting still for any great length of time can be tough. As well as devices such as iPads and portable DVD players, travel games, and a dose of good old imagination and favourite car games, don’t forget a copy of the Kids’ Travel Guide – USA! Packed with fun information and cool activities, it is likely to keep your kids quiet and happy. There is also a great selection of city guides, as well as combined books that cover both the country and city in one handy edition. A couple of outdoor activities are great for burning off excess energy on rest breaks too.
Don’t Forget the Emergency Kit
Make sure you pack a small first aid kit to deal with any cuts / scrapes / pains etc whilst on your journey. A torch is another vital piece of equipment – imagine if you break down at night and have no lighting source?! It’s also handy for navigating dimly-lit car parks on rest stops at night too. Plenty of drinking water and a healthy selection of nibbles should also be on your list.