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The season for road trips is almost here!
Traveling together can be a great family bonding time if all goes well. Road trips give opportunity for setting your own agenda. Traveling by car is often less expensive, leaving finances for other activities.
Our family took an epic road trip from Pennsylvania to Texas several years ago. We intentionally took a different route on the way out and back in to explore different states. SO many great memories!
But I knew in order to enjoy the trip, this Mom needed preparation.
While everything on the road can’t be controlled (hello traffic!), there were certain details I could care for ahead of time. Maybe some tips will help your planning.
Summer Road Trip Hacks
Plan for the FOOD:
At the time of our road trip, our family six included young children who wanted to snack often. It felt a hassle to have lots of bags and boxes of food to pass around the car. I felt certain there would be arguing about who got a fair amount and who didn’t, and can I please have the last fruit bar? types of conversations.
I planned for this by purchasing a variety of our favorites and packaging them ahead of time into little snack packs. Worked like a charm! This include pantry-type items, not those needing a cooler.
For other items such as fruit, cheese sticks, lunch meat, boiled eggs, hummus and veggies, I packed these into an insulated cooler with a picnic tablecloth and baby wipes. We’d head to a rest stop and all I needed to do was grab the bag (which often included crackers and/or pita chips) and voila! — quick eating for everyone.
When done we wiped our hands, the tablecloth, and packaged up any leftovers for the next time. By the way, I never packed sandwiches. I felt they would get soggy and we would get tired of them quickly. Having a variety of foods seemed to work better.
Depending on the length of your road trip, it might be helpful to keep a grocery list of your pantry items and cooler items for replenishing along the way.
Plan for CLOTHING:
Oh, the number of bags and items needed for a family on the road! This was another area I knew could easily overwhelm me on the road (because it does at home).
I did two things to help. First, I packed one suitcase as the ‘family bag’. This included each person’s basic toiletries, pajamas and a change of clothing.
Because parts of our trip included simply stopping for one night before the next destination, it seemed silly for everyone to take out a suitcase of their own and rummage through it for a few items. The family bag helped to eliminate chaos, especially if we ended up finding our sleeping location late at night.
I also pre-packed the younger kids clothing into gallon-sized plastic bags for other times or into the family bag as their change of clothing. This helped me tremendously and took away the stress which often comes when younger ones can’t decided what to wear. Win-Win!
Plan for ENTERTAINMENT:
This area is widely personal based on your family. What worked for us included a variety of quiet, alone activities and also all-together activities as a family.
Quiet time for older children could be listening to music or audio stories on their device, drawing, crosswords or other paper games, reading a book or sleeping. Our youngest was five at the time and worked with play dough, coloring or played with small toys. We definitely used movies as well!
As a family, our favorite activity was long audio stories from Lamplighter Theatre. There was also lots of music, singing and story-telling! Check out my summer road trip Pinterest board for lots more ideas!
Not everything went as planned of course. There were meltdowns by both adults and kids and silly arguments rose up regardless of my planning. But overall these hacks served us well.
Wherever you go, whatever hacks you choose — enjoy making memories!