Hey there, it’s Laura, maker of skincare, wife of Brad, lover of adventure, and most importantly- momma of Josie Belle and Ella Rose. There’s nothing this family loves more than a road trip. Yup, I said it- we love road trips. Typically, when I say that I get this look as though I have 3 heads followed by- “You guys are crazy.”, “Why don’t you just fly?”, or “How do you do it?”.
We have traveled back and forth around and across a huge portion of the US, both with the kids and without, but of course there’s always more to see! We are just returning from our latest adventure- winter break in Pompano Beach, Florida and the Florida Keys (one of our favorite beach destinations). Before I get back to reality, I thought I would share some of our tips for a successful family road trip.
- Start ‘em young. Let’s face it- we all get antsy as the miles roll by. When your kids grow up used to the idea of backseat boredom, it makes road trippin’ waaay easier as they get older. By the time they can say, “Are we there yet?”-and they will- they will know the unwritten rules of the road. If your kids are grown and starting them young isn’t an option, your future adventures are by no means doomed. They’ll just need a little help in settling in to road trip mode, which brings us to #2…
- Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Cuz tension and yelling is bad for your health (read- road trip success). Your kids’ energy will feed off yours, so before you shift into drive take a deep breath, summon all the patience, and put on a happy face- you’re starting a new adventure after all! Help them to see the fun to be had by playing eye spy, the license plate game, or just talking about new things outside of the window. If they’re getting tired and whiny, hop in the back seat, sing them a lullaby, tickle their little head, or whatever puts them in their happy place (this one’s gotta be age appropriate, of course. Your teenager may not appreciate a lullaby). Get creative, stay calm, and let them see that it’s okay to just be.
- Technology. I’m going to keep it real with this one. I’m not leaving it off the list because it has definitely saved the day on more than one occasion. We are not a family that allows much, if any screen time in our daily lives. If the girls are bored they can play the piano, color a picture, or play with one of the gazillion toys that they forget they have. But when we’re on a road trip, we put up the DVD screens (we’re old school before they were built in), let them pick out some favorite movies, and throw in the iPad for backup. If they’re into it and entertained, by all means, let it roll! However, if they’re not paying attention to it and are busy reading, playing with toys, etc., turn it off and save it for later. That way when whatever is entertaining them for the moment wears off, you’ve got a backup. If it’s just on all day without end, it can lose effect. Bottom line- allow them the opportunity to do without and find entertainment on their own, leave the screens for those times when you really need them. But also, a long road trip isn’t the time to get on your high horse about screen time either. Just make it clear that when you reach your destination the screens stay in the car, that way they know what to expect.
- Snacks. This one’s a no-brainer. I’m aware that creating a habit of snacking out of boredom isn’t so great, but we’re talking road trip rules here, not everyday life. Don’t overthink it, you know what your kids like- go with that. We always have a snack bag that’s easily accessible to everyone, that way you’re not climbing around the car digging through bags. It’s always a good idea to have a treat bag on hand for when you need something a little extra- lollipops, cookies, peppermints, or whatever floats your boat.
- Know where you’re sleeping. If you have to stop overnight while out on the road, it’s definitely wise to book online or call ahead of time. We have a horror story from traveling out to Glacier National Park when the girls were 2 and 5. We drove all day our first day and were ready to stop for the night with 2 exhausted littles, only to find out that American Idol was in town for auditions in Omaha, Nebraska, which is where we were. There were no hotels for almost 2 hours past where we had planned on stopping, and the one we did find was questionable at best. The Expedia App will never leave my phone because of that night. Now we will start thinking about where we will be stopping for the night around dinner time, check the map and see what hotels are available in that area.
- An open mind. Try not to get too hung up on a schedule. Yes, it’s a great idea to plan and keep to an itinerary, but don’t make it so tight that there’s no wiggle room for a little pit-stop to stretch your legs. Also, don’t be afraid to take the scenic route. Some of the best moments we’ve had on the open road were out in the middle of nowhere taking a “short cut” suggested by a local. Just be sure you have a full tank of gas!
Now get out there and explore, adventure awaits!