It’s summer and along with beaches, freshly-squeezed lemonade, and lakeside bonfires, I can’t think of another more fitting tie-in than road trips!
Whether it’s a couple of hours or a couple of days en voyage, road tripping is always bound to cash into that special memory bank especially when it’s with people you love and cherish. My family and I absolutely LOVE road tripping as we strongly believe that there is much to discover in your own “backyard” (locally/in and around your town) and that family travels doesn’t always require an airplane. However, as a mother, I can truthfully concede that traveling on the road with kids is not often a slice of chocolate cake.
For those that are planning a road trip in the near future, here are a few tips I’d like to share with you to help make it one of the most awesome family road trips ever!
I am a planner. I thrive on organization and advanced planning; however, when it comes to road trips, sometimes they can be impromptu, and some of the greatest ones I’ve been on were not really that planned. But with children and for longer road trips to specific destinations, you will definitely need to have some sort of system in place (hence this post and the following tips!)
Prepare Your Vehicle
It’s absolutely essential that you make sure your vehicle is adequately prepared for a summer road trip before embarking on one. If your air conditioner is broken, get it fixed. If the car’s interior material is the kind that easily gets sticky and hot, bring thin sheets to cover the seats with. And don’t forget those windshield sun blockers! Definitely a bright idea.
Pack The Right Stuff
What you pack will prove to be extremely important especially with kids. During any road trip, no matter the season, what you bring along with you more or less accounts for your home for the trip. When road tripping, your vehicle is your home. Remember that. Aside from the regular to-bring items like snack and a first-aid kit including any mediations, a few essentials to remember when packing for a summer trip are:
- Sun block
- Sun hat
- Bug repellent
- A cooler with lots of refreshments
- Swim suit
- Beach Towel
- Sun glasses
- Light clothing
- Aloe (for burns)
- Water bottle
- smartphone, tech and camera including chargers
- kids toys including a favourite stuffy or blanket to help them fall asleep
- potty (if you have a potty-training child)
Kids needs to stay entertained to ward off the dreaded millions of “Are we there yet” or meltdowns that can sometimes result in a stressful driver and sometimes little ones throwing up from all the crying (that has happened to us before – not fun!). Be sure there’s no shortage on entertainment options. Stock up a plastic bin of toys (including some new ones from the dollar store – colouring books, small cars, etc.), magnetic board games, books, notebooks, sketchbooks, knitting tools, and balls/badminton to play with during breaks.
Even if you’re the type of parent that isn’t fond of too much screen time, you’ll most definitely be singing praises for bringing along the iPads, tablets, and portable DVD player with favourite DVD’s. They are such a big help during long road trips! Oh, and don’t forget the headphones!
Stop For Breaks
Stopping for a break is an important part of any road trip – for the driver as well as the kids! Everyone needs some fresh air and to stretch their legs. And the kids especially need to release some of that pent-up energy they have bursting at the seams. Depending on when you’re traveling, either stopping off for a nice, big breakfast or a lunch (or both) where the kids can run around and use some energy is a good idea. An even better (and more cost-efficient) one? Find a nice place to park, either a truck stop, or a nice scenic spot to lay out a blanket and have a nice picnic.
The best snacks to pack for a drive include:
- grain chips/popcorn/puffed corn
- muesli/granola/fruit bars
- hard fruit like bananas and apples
- rice crackers
- fruit gummies
- lots of fluids
Remember to stay hydrated and try to eat healthy! An easy way to make sure you feel sluggish and tired is by eating bad food. I realize old habits die hard, but some fresh fruits and vegetables just might be your answer to staying happy and healthy on the road.
Avoid Afternoon Driving
Tolerating the heat can be a challenge. Avoid driving in the height of the afternoon if you have a chance. Drive at night, dawn, or dusk for the most pleasant temperature and traffic-free experience. Not only will you be more comfortable, but you’ll probably save a little on gas money while you’re at it (it takes less gas to cool your car when the outside temperature drops).
Make sure to get in that nap during long road trips. Coffee only does so much. You will get to the point on that 14 hour drive when you’re on your fifth cup of coffee in six hours and your arms or legs are shaking. Check into a hotel after 12 hours (or sooner if need be) and get some rest! You will all need it.
Embrace The Road Less Taken
Make sure to go off the beaten path! Don’t be scared of the locals. Ask questions… especially when it comes to finding out the best places to eat or shop. And how nice is the scenic route? I much prefer it over the busy and congested highways.
Have Your Contacts Saved
Phones get stolen, broken, and lost. Make sure you have a list of your contacts, especially your emergency contacts, saved elsewhere. I suggest online, on your computer, and in a notebook.
Make A Road Trip Playlist!
Compile a playlist with songs that you’d be semi-comfortable hearing for two weeks straight. Play and run through it during the road trip without skipping tracks. It won’t seem like a big deal, but months later, when one of those special road trip songs comes on at the grocery store or at the gym, you’ll find yourself transported back to your trip in a way only a song could transport you.
And you can bring the party to you at your destination with a UE Boom 2! I’m obsessed with this speaker brand and the sound quality is unreal! (You can read more about my love for my UE MegaBoom here.)
Toll roads can pop up in the most bizarre of places especially when crossing the border and you just never know if you may want something at a gas station vending machine. Stock your center console with dollars and coin rolls.
Announce Your Whereabouts
Text someone — a friend or your parents — the name of the place you stay each night and which city you plan to reach by the next night. In the very rare event that anything sketchy happens, it’s good to have a public record of where you are. Thankfully, in this day and age of social media (especially Snapchat and Instagram), I highly doubt anyone will miss your whereabouts. 😉
Speaking of Snapchat and Instagram, last and certainly not least…
Road trips are prime fodder for gorgeous Instagram-worthy snaps, beautiful scrapbooks and bulletin boards, and frame-worthy photo art once you get home. Moments last but merely a few seconds, but memories last a lifetime. Make sure to capture them, and those amazing family pics including and not forgetting the designated family photographer (ahem… mom) with a bluetooth one-button operation Puregear Selfie Stick! And you can share instant prints from your smartphone / tablet wirelessly with a super cool Fujifilm Instax SP1 Share Printer. What fun! Simply press the shutter, capture the moment, and watch the photo slide out and the image develop in front of your eyes using the Film Instax Mini Film.
Courtesy of my friends at TELUS, one you can *win your own Fujifilm Instax SP1 Share Printer (ARV $200).
To enter, leave me a comment below telling me what fun road trips you have planned this year.
*Contest open to Canadian Residents only. Ends August 10th, 2016.
Here’s to many memorable summer road trips!
Summer Road Trip with TELUS Giveaway