Every holiday we pack up the car and hit the road to visit family. Most people dread this type of travel, but I say embrace it! Packing up the car and hitting the open road can be a perfect opportunity to bond with your family. Take along these tips and make it a happy and safe family holiday road trip.
Happy and Safe Family Holiday Road Trip Tips
Check your vehicles vitals
You want to check your tire pressure and make sure you are up to date on your oil change. Check the wiper fluids in the front and the back too! Whenever we go on a big road trip I always clean the car. It can be a hassle and another thing on my to-do list, but I am always happy when it is done.
Check conditions and know your route
Before you leave, check the weather and plan your day around that. If possible, you want to leave and arrive before a big snow or rain storm hits. A little planning can go a long way in making your drive easier. Also check your maps and GPS (apps that report traffic are great too) and plan the best route for the trip. If your trip is long, think about where you may stop along the way. Taking breaks is good for the driver and the family.
Always wear a seat belt and check that your children are wearing them too. If you have car seats, make sure they are properly installed. Many fire departments will do this for free. Remember to bring your phone charger in case of emergencies. Never talk or text on your cell phone. It is incredibly dangerous. Stop at a rest stop or have a passenger help with your calls. It is always more important to be safe on the road then answer a text. Follow all state traffic and speed laws. Remember to designate a driver if you will be drinking.
Snacks are important for two reasons during the holidays. First, it helps to keep the kids happy. I always pack a special treat to share when the drive gets a little tougher. Second, it is good to have food for unexpected circumstances. You can never predict when weather or traffic will slow down your trip. We like to pack trail mix, bananas and apples, granola and cereal bars, and pretzels. I also bring bottles of water and cups for the snacks. For extra long drives I like to bring candy or cookies. The special treat is sometimes all they need to make it through the last hour of the drive.
Don’t forget about entertaining the kids. Pack books, movies, and age-apporpriate electronics. I remind my kids to select and download their movies the night before we travel. When they were younger, I would pick up sticker books and notebooks to surprise them during the drive. They love to draw and write about our trips. We also like to listen to our favorite books on CD. The Harry Potter series is our go-to collection.
It is the holidays, but save the fancy clothes for when you arrive or stop at a rest stop and change. Dress in your comfortable clothes. Let the kids wear their pajamas. An uncomfortable child can make the car ride feel like forever. Let them wear what they want. My kids like to pack their favorite blanket and pillow for long drives to keep them comfortable.
Expect the Unexpected
Before I leave I try to think of the unexpected and pack a backpack of things we might need. This typically includes a change of clothes for everyone, cleaning wipes, plastic bags, paper towels, etc. My son is prone to motion sickness so having these items has been essential!!