I’ve enjoyed road trips since I was a teen. My parents used to drive all over for our trips. I get my love of driving from my dad. My enjoyment of road trips comes with experience.
From Seattle to Virginia when my parents packed up and headed East (I was 18).
From Washington to Minnesota when I made the ridiculous move from the state I loved.
Here in Minnesota, people take 2 hour road trips every weekend to get to their cabins. We were part of that crowd! We head north to Aitkin, MN on weekends during the summer to spend at Grams.
We also used to drive to Chicago 3-4 times a year to visit with our extended family.
So, if you’re thinking about heading on a road trip, you need to be prepared. I know, that’s kind of a “duh” statement, but I think we all have different ideas of what being prepared means. We’d all be able to add a tidbit of great advice. Here’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth!
If you are going on a long road trip, invest in an overhead storage if possible. It frees up a lot of room inside the vehicle for immediate necessities. Stick everyone’s suitcases up there with clothes you won’t need until you get there. Have a couple of backpacks with a couple nights worth of clothing so you don’t have to unpack the entire vehicle. Then have a 3rd backpack for toiletries.
Pack a large cooler. Fill it with juice boxes, cheese string, go-gurt, milk, lunch meat, cheese slices, mayo/butter, etc. Have a 2nd bag or box for dry ingredients like fruit snacks, chips, bread, crackers, fruit, utensils, napkins, cups, baggies and plates. Maybe even a mini cutting board.
If you’re going on a long trip I’d do a couple of planned stops at certain times throughout the drive. You know your family well enough to know how far they can go before they need to get out of the car for a stretch. Maybe about 4 hours into the ride, look on a map and see what towns are around. Find out if there’s a school near the freeway and if so, plan on stopping at the elementary school. Let the munchkins out to run around and play on the playground. Trust me, a half an hour of burning energy is totally worth the stop. If you can’t find an elementary, maybe search for a local park that seems large and has a playground.
Depending on your kids ages, bring your gaming system. You can watch movies and play games on it. Something new we tried on our trip out to Virginia for Christmas was picking up a movie at a Redbox. We’d pick one up during the day and the next day return it for a different movie. It was nice to give the boys a new movie to watch and be able to return it at a new location. I looked Redbox up online for locations by where we were getting gas. If you’re kids are old enough to use a gaming system, visit a pawn shop and get a few new games for the kids to play. They can be relatively cheap and if your kids don’t care for them you can always resell them. Make sure you only bring one out each day and save one or two for the trip home.
I always pick up new markers, activity books, reading books for the older kids, and print downloadables at sites like nickjr.com and other kids websites. Again, I bring them out in slow rotation.