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!

Plan Ahead

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.

Snack Up!

The best snacks to pack for a drive include:

  • sandwiches
  • grapes/berries
  • 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).

Stay Rested

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.

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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.)

Carry Change

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…

Take Pictures!

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

Disclosure: As part of #TeamTELUS, products and/or compensation is provided; however, all opinions expressed are entirely those of the author.

187 Comments on Family Road Trip Tips + #Giveaway

  1. The best road-trip distraction for my kids is to let them both enjoy their tablets while my wife & I share the driving. It keeps them both busy & quiet.

  2. We don’t really have any road trips planned for this summer, but if we did it would be to the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick to visit family.

  3. My brother and I are leaving PEI next week and driving to Ontario. We are touring around for ten days or so. We plan to visit our Aunt and a sick friend while on our travels.

  4. We are planning a road trip to Ohio to visit framily (friends who are family). Our goal is to hit every New Age crystal store along the way!!

  5. We have nothing else planned but going back and forth to the cottage this year… which is quite a road trip as it is in Northern Ontario about 3 hours away… we always do something fun along the way! Almost always stop at our favourite pit stop and catch up with the local news!

  6. With a 3 month old we find that day road trips work best right now. We’ve visited family at the campground and enjoyed a trip to Greenview Aviaries which was super fun!

  7. Good Golly Miss Molly, OMG. lUV road trip to Whistler.. Thank you for the awesomeness, the contest, and generosity. 🙂

  8. We don’t really have any road trips planned this summer but if we did it would be a trip to New Brunswick to visit family.

  9. We have done a bunch of road trips this summer. The only two left are to the cottage and a wedding in Port Severn. But you never know when a good road trip will be planned last minute.

  10. My sister and I are planning on going to explore all that British Colombia has to offer. We’d like to go on a ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria as well as try out the suspension bridge and hike up grouse mountain. Hopefully all goes well!

  11. This summer I am taking my Grandchildren on a road trip to Niagara Falls. We are visiting Marine Land and hopefully a ride on the Hornblower. Great road trip tips! I especially like announcing your whereabouts and saving your contacts. Smart tips that I hadn’t thought of. Many thanks 🙂

  12. we are planning on road tripping to barrie.. which is only two hours but with a one year old that is plenty far! haha

  13. I wish we had one. Been in and out of the hospital for the last 4 months soooo, maybe after surgery, we can plan some nice trip for our kids <3

  14. We have just spent 9 days on a dog show circuit from Campbell River to Sannich BC. Loads of fun, next trip, Nanaimo to Grand Prairie for a wedding. Lots of km’s this summer!!!

  15. We did a great road trip through the BC interior to go to a graduation – had awesome weather the whole way!

  16. My mom and i have a road trip planned to go to Vernon, BC from Calgary. Which we do every year! We didn’t actually have the time to go this year, but its basically ritual, so of course we snuck some time in for the end of the month haha. Then we plan on going to a town near Vancouver, and then stop in Vancouver for a day, which i have never been too, so I’m pretty stoked 😀

  17. Planning a road trip just around Ontario due to a tight budget that my friends and I are on because of college, but it’s still going to be loads of fun!

  18. We are planning a road trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island for our 37th wedding anniversary <3 I am so excited it looks so incredibly beautiful. Thank you for all the Great tips and the wonderful giveaway 🙂

  19. no road trips this year as my husband has developed a condition that translates from Latin as s**h happens to old people.

  20. We have a few road trips planned this year: the first one is a week-long trip circumventing Alberta; the second road trip will be from Calgary to Vancouver; the third trip will be from NYC to Toronto. Thanks!

  21. I miss having printed pictures to look at! Thanks for the chance to win and love all the great road trip tips. We don’t have one planned at the moment but I would love to road trip thru the Canadian Rockies!

  22. We have a fun road trip planned this month to go to the Maritimes. We will stop and camp on the way, which the kids love, and be sure to have lots of adventures throughout.

  23. I enjoyed many memorable road trips including driving across North American coast to coast through both Canada and The U.S. several times over the years. Sadly, I don’t have a road trip planned this year (yet!)

  24. I have a road trip planned this summer to Vancouver Island. I am taking my family to enjoy the beach at the ocean in Parksville. We also want to zipline at Wild Play in Nanaimo on our route.

  25. None planned for this year but I would love to take my mom to the Grand Canyon next year. She’s never been, me either, but it’s been on her bucket list.

  26. Well I guess flying doesn’t count so besides traveling to Cali for my cousins wedding I’m driving my parents over to Texas (7 or so hours) for Christmas at my brother’s new house. My dad can’t fly anymore do to heart issues so we’ll be going the old fashioned way. I just flew to Texas and back two weekends ago and it takes about the same time as driving, with all the waiting for lines and getting there early.

  27. We don’t have a road trip planned per se, but we are going to another one of our family reunions next weekend that should be a lot of fun.

  28. Not sure if my comment went through…we have a trip planned around the province,,hope to get it accomplished before summer ends.

  29. I’m planning to road trip to Chicago later this summer, but that’s all! I don’t normally go on road trips unfortunately.

  30. My husband and I have a road trip planned in August to Red Deer. Our little grandson is due August 9th and we are very anxious and excited to meet him.

  31. Wish it was something bigger and more exciting but time is limited with my daughter working to save for college in Spetember. We will be doing a buffalo back to school road trip and a trip to take my mom to Listowel to a yarn factory sale….lol

  32. We went to Montebello Quebec for a three day music festival earlier this summer so we’ll be sticking to places closer to home in Ontario for the rest of the summer.

  33. I planned on going to Cape Breton and hitting some of the hiking trails/beaches on the Cabot trail – cannot wait!

  34. I have a trip planned to visit family in Saskatchewan. Spending time at the lake and celebrating a 55th Wedding Anniversary for my In-Law.s

  35. We are heading to PEI driving across the confederation bridge, literally across the OCEAN! Cavendish and camping at the Marco Polo campground great place for our 3 and 8 year old son. And a cows ice cream before we roll home again. ROAD TRIP!!

  36. No road trips planned for this year. We are having a staycation at our trailer in Grand Bend, Ontario. No extra money this year to be travelling around.

  37. No definite plans for a road trip this year. Going to Orillia with the girls in September, if that counts :0

  38. We have made a bucket list of all the great road trips we want to take this summer! Mostly day trips to beaches and a few waterfalls we have not hunted out yet 🙂

  39. We have already been to Jasper this year and are still planning a Calgary/Canmore/Banff trip and a Saskatoon trip

  40. I have done a road trip from North Bay to Ottawa and plan to do a road trip to Kitchener. Tha ks for the opportunity to win this.

  41. We just got home from Gaspe Bay, Quebec. We will be spending the rest of the time locally with our trailer and visiting with family.

  42. we honestly do not have any road trips planned as of yet other than a little road trip to Collingwood to stay with my in-laws for the weekend. It is a pretty nice drive taking the country roads

  43. We are doing a few mini road trips this year. We have one planned for Seattle, WA and then one to Whistler, BC.

  44. We have drove across Newfoundland and Ontario so far this summer Next is to hit Nova Scotia! Thanks! Happy Summer!

  45. We have a fun road trip planned for August this year with my sisters and my mom who will be 91 on Sept.11 we travel around Newfoundland visiting little ports and bays always a fun time

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