Plan An Epic Family Road Trip With These Tips For Busy Moms
Before we were parents, it was so much easier for my husband and me to get away for an extended weekend. It didn’t take an exorbitant amount of planning and certainly, it was less expensive. Add two young kids to the itinerary and “getting away” looks very different than it used to!
While travel with kids to far away destinations sounds wonderful, it’s usually only an option for the family’s annual summer vacation.
A family road trip can also serve as a catalyst for treasured memories. And since we’re not able to be around the dinner table together as a family as much as we’d like these days, shorter, closer to home trips are a great time to bond.
We’ve had some pretty awesome family road trips with our two little ones in tow. The key has always been planning. As a busy mom, you want to start planning your road trip as early as possible. Here are some tips that helped me plan road trips that my family loves.
Think Safety First
If you’re using the family car, schedule maintenance and repairs beforehand to ensure your road trip is free of any avoidable, car-related malfunctions and make sure your insurance is up to date. Double check tires, pack a small tool kit and think about adding roadside service to your insurance, if you aren’t already a member.
You’ll also want to print out all maps and confirmations, just in case you lose reception and your GPS fails (which can happen often depending on your destination. This is also a good time to double check that your little one’s car seat is up to code and installed correctly.
Apps Help Make Getting There Fun
When on a family road trip, it’s important to remember that the journey is as important as the destination. Maybe even more so! Consider the breaks that interest your family and schedule plenty of breaks at rest stops to stretch yours legs.
Tools like Google Maps and Waze are helpful in notifying you of upcoming traffic or accidents, offering alternative routes, and planning breaks. In the spirit of adventure, we scheduled breaks as often as every three to four hours, using Yelp (another fantastic app) to locate sweet treats, local favorites or unique parks or outdoor features.
In addition to Maps, Google’s app Field Trips sends alerts of fun sites of interest based on categories you’ve chosen and your current location. GasBuddy is also a helpful app when it’s time to refuel, letting you know how far you are from a gas station, as well as gas prices.
Just remember to be open-minded and enjoy the journey! Leave room in your schedule for detours and an adventurous spirit. My family’s most favorite memory of our road trip up the California coast last year was when we stopped in Big Sur to swim in a creek because the gas station attendant told us about a swimming hole with a swing. Epic memory making right there!
The Road Kids Travel
The very first thing a busy mom needs to pack on an epic road trip with her family is patience! No matter how you travel with kids, it will become stressful. Here are some other tips to help your trip go smoothly.
- Consider planning the bulk of the driving time around your child’s sleep schedule.
- To avoid road trip meltdowns, pack plenty of your kids’ favorite snacks and keep beverages simple, to avoid excessive bathroom breaks.
- Pack the snacks close to you in the car and disperse into individual cups at designated snack times.
- Prepare simple, yet filling, sandwiches for lunches on the go.
- I always pack a cookie sheet for each child. They store away easily and serve as a functional tabletop that kids can then use to eat, build puzzles, play with magnets, color and draw on.
- While movies and tech time are always a hit with kids, keep them inspired and looking outside with family games of Search & Find Bingo, 20 Questions or I Spy.
- Before your road trip, take a few minutes to create a list of fun family conversations; things like how would you spend a million dollars, what does a perfect day look like or what would be your super power and why are questions that encourage conversation, can take hours to answer and encourage family bonding.
Planning a road trip for your family will take some time, but focusing on the journey – rather than the destination – will help make it all worth it.