Growing up my dad was a truck driver and I spent a lot of summers on the road with him. My family is no stranger to long road trips, for the past ten years my husband and I have been road tripping and nothing changed when we had kids. We’ve actually road tripped across country with both kids, multiple times.
We’ve done the trip in a sedan, mid-size suv, van, and most recently in a sports car. This time around we took a three week road trip, we started in Denver and made our way to Las Vegas, California, and Miami. It was such an unforgettable adventure!
Road trips are an ever-popular way for families to take vacations but road tripping with your family can be overwhelming. Even though it gets easier the more you do it, you’re going to run into a few challenges any time you do anything with kids, but remember, it’s all about perspective.
Keep your own mood cheerful, it can be difficult to stay positive when you are tired and sick of sitting still too, but parents really do set the mood in the car. If kids sense that you are agitated and frustrated, they will reflect that, which will only make YOU more agitated and frustrated.
Here are Six tips to make life easier while road tripping with older kids this summer
- Plan – planning for extra time is exactly the opposite of what I do when I’m road tripping alone. This is definitely not what you want to do if you are road tripping with kids. Kids need to stretch, use the the bathroom, eat, and reset.
- Pack light – when road tripping carry-on isn’t an issue, however, you don’t need to pack your entire house. Pack the necessities. Shorts, shirts, a dressy outfit, socks, underwear, swimsuit, sneakers, slides, and personal hygiene products. Add an emergency aid kit in there too, because, kids.
- Bring snacks –
hangry kidscan turn a fun family trip miserable in a matter of minutes. I can’t emphasize this enough, ALWAYS have snacks available for your kids! Road trip snacks are a must-have. Pack plenty of snacks and non-perishable meal items to avoid unnecessary stops on the road. Saves money and time. Plus, if you get stuck in traffic like we did you’ll be SO happy to have extra snacks.
- Pull over – let your kids climb, run, and play for at least 20 minutes. It’ll do wonders to your child’s body and mind on a long road trip.
- Keep a close watch – Don’t lose sight of your children! No matter what you’re doing, whether things are going smooth or you’re dealing with a nightmare, make sure you ALWAYS keep your children by your side.
- Entertainment – at some point your children are going to get bored and ask for technology, don’t fight it. Make sure to fully charge your iPad and Nintendo switch, they’ll definitely come in handy. Download a movie or two because you will drive through places where you’ll get no service. It’s also a good idea to pack a small backpack with toys, crayons, coloring books, stickers, notebooks, and familiar stuffed animals because at some point your children will get bored and tired of technology too, haha!
The beauty of road tripping is that you’re in full control. Flying is a quick way to get across the country, but if you’re up for an adventure and have plenty of time to travel, consider attempting the drive. You never know what interesting things you might encounter along the way, and in the process, you’ll bond with your family on a whole new level.
Although we’ve done this before, every road trip has been a new experience and we’ve learn something every.single.time. Make sure to plan, it’s important! Even planning to stop for gas is important because sometimes there won’t be a gas stations for 300 miles. It happened to us this time around in the middle of no where Utah! We didn’t plan our next stop and we were so caught up chatting that we missed the signs clearly warning us. 15 miles later, it was close to sundown and we were parked on the side of the road with NO gas!
Thankfully, a gentlemen by the name of John from Denver who was on his way to California stopped at the top of the hill a couple feet away to talk to his brother on the phone, and guess what?! He had a full gas tank! I’m not sure if to call it luck or a blessing, but I am forever thankful! Also, lesson learned. Haha!
This road trip we also had to make an unexpected stop at an Advance Auto Parts in San Antonio to buy oil because our car needed an oil change. While my husband changed the oil, the boys ran, jumped, and played under the hot Texas sun in a grassy area nearby.
Yeah, they got a sweaty and a little sticky so we wiped them down with body wipes, changed them into fresh clothes from head to toe to avoid funky smells in a small car, emptied their bladders, got them food and snacks, and they were good to go until dinner time. That means we got to cover A LOT of road.
Letting your kids enjoy some fresh air, climbing, running, and playing for at least 20 minutes will do wonders to their body and mind on a long road trip. You don’t have to stop at a park or amusement park, simply pull over somewhere safe where your kids can freely run and play for a little bit.
If you stay at a hotel, check to see what safety steps they’re taking. Many hotels have adopted enhanced cleaning procedures and are encouraging social distancing in common areas. Personally we’ve stayed at hotels. We’ve checked their COVID precautions and procedures before booking, and disinfect the room ourselves once we get there. We take our own towels, sheets, blankets, and we NEVER use hotel pillows, not even before COVID was thing.