Road trips always start off with great intentions but they can easily turn into a disaster when everyone’s different needs and attention spans collide. As a seasoned road trip mom who has travelled on 15 road trips over 10 years with my 3 kids to 43 different states, here is my best advice to all parents who are eager to hit the road with minimum drama and maximum fun that will leave everyone begging to pack their bags for the next adventure.
1. Have a detailed plan
It’s fun to wander but most folks especially kids get anxious not knowing where they’re going and what the day has in store. I have found as a mom, my stress level goes way down when I’ve got all our activities sorted out and a schedule to follow. Sure it’s fun to pull over on the side of the road when you see something that’s worth making a quick stop for (road side fruit stand anyone?) but don’t let something totally sidetrack you so you miss that great activity that everyone’s been really excited for. Kids (and adults) love looking forward to awesome activities when they know what’s in store.
2. Keep a good pace
Not everyone in the family is going to have the same attention span so it’s important to make sure everyone is engaged by keeping a good pace. You may be a total civil war buff and want to spend 5 hours in that awesome museum, but that doesn’t mean everyone else wants to as well. Compromise is key to keeping the trip moving at a good pace-not to fast to miss stuff, but not too slow for younger ones to check out. Watch for visual clues, when kids are yawning and nagging you about leaving…it’s time to wrap it up.
3. Engage everyone in the conversation
Boredom and nagging can be kept to a minimum by engaging everyone in conversation about what you’re seeing. Road trips are a great time to have some meaningful conversations with your kids and keep the wonder of learning alive. Without preaching or teaching- make connections, ask their opinions and listen, you’ll be surprised what they have to say and even more so by what they learn and remember.
4. Make sure you’ve got plenty of snacks
There is nothing worse than a hungry child or adult for that matter. Always make sure you’ve got a good stash of cookies, crackers or other snack items to stave off hunger that can lead to all around crankiness that can and will spoil an entire day.
5. Variety is key
Try not to focus on one particular type of activity but rather make sure there is something for everyone. Mix museums and historical sites with water parks and other fun recreational activities –Parents want something intellectually stimulating and kids want to have fun-make sure everyone’s need are met by engaging in a variety of activities. And don’t forget factory tours, those are always a hit with everybody, especially when there is sampling involved.
It took me years to figure this out but now we’ve got it down to a science. We love road tripping and can’t wait for our next adventure next summer. Take advantage of these 5 tips and your family will have a blast resulting in a memorable adventure they will beg to repeat.