7 Tips For Vacation Trips With Children

Road trips with children can be a blast but they can also be a test of a parent's patience.  Family trips typically start off with lots of excitement and anticipation of a big adventure.  Things are great.  Then as the hours go by, boredom sets in, passengers get uncomfortable, and the inevitable "he touched me", "she's looking at me" or "I've got to go".

It's in these moments that make a parent want to pack it up, turn around and go home.  The good news is, even if these moments because frequent on the trip, with a bit of pre-planning, these moments of frustration can easily be prevented or at least toned down.  A good philosophy to follow is to make the happy moments outweigh the not so great ones.

Vacation is one of those activities most families look forward to.  You've waited all year long.  You've talk about it.  Everyone is anxiously waiting for the day you hit the road, leave your cares behind and enjoy a fabulous vacation.

As the departure day approaches, instead of getting excited, have you ever found yourself getting tense instead?  You aren't alone.

Here are some tips and tricks to help make road trips with children a bit more manageable:

Pack Humor When Traveling

You are going to run into issues and last minute planning.  Did you stop the mail?  Did you call and plan to board your pet?  It's going to cost how much!

No matter how much planning you've done and how much planning you've done, chances are something will inevitably go wrong at some point.  The mishap or problem may be minor or significant, but either way, something is likely going to happen.  When it does, if you can manage to smile, laugh and take heart that whatever has gone wrong will pass, it'll help you get through those rough moments.

Keep your chin up and focus on the journey, not the problem, and the mishap will be easier to handle.

Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Road Ready

Nothing can spoil a vacation trip like breaking down on the road.  Before making a trip, have a certified mechanic do a thorough inspection of your vehicle.  Are the tires good?  Does the oil need changing?  Are the fluids topped off?  Russell Barnett Automotive Family has five locations with certified mechanics that are equipped to inspect and service your vehicle.  Click here to schedule a time to service your vehicle.

Another option for a vacation vehicle is to rent an appropriate sized van or SUV.  The family sedan may be great for around town but when making a vacation trip, you need additional space for luggage and 'stretching room' for the children.  Consider renting a van or SUV from Russell Barnett Auto Rental.  We have a large selection to choose from.  Contact Sonya Bryant in Tullahoma at 931-455-6066 or Gary Frame in Winchester at 931-967-9000.  Be sure to ask for our special loyal customer vacation rates.

Safety First

Safety should be a planning priority.  Be sure to check car seats, booster and seat belts to make sure that there are no problems and children can be properly secured.  Clean out any unnecessary junk and trash that can go flying across the car's interior if you have to make a quick stop or are involved in an accident.  Be sure to pack an emergency kit so that you are prepared with someone needs a band-aide or other small emergency items.

Two adorable little sisters sitting in a car just before leaving for a car vacation with their parents - stock photo

Bring Activities

Keeping the kids occupied in between stops is one of the most important things to do for a successful and low stress road trip.  Bring games, books, crayons, and paper for the little ones.  Pack a travel bag with toys and other items that are only used on trips.  This assures that the activities are fresh for the children.  

For the older children, don't forget to pack hand held video games such as a Nintendo DS, tablets, music players or a handful of favorite CD's to listen to.  If you have a portable DVD player, bring it along.  Ask each child to bring a couple of their favorite movies and take turns watching.

Play Car Games

Depending on the ages of your children, word and counting games can be fun.  Count big trucks, cows and horses, or look for specific colors of cars.  See who can spot license plates from various states.  Play a game of "I Spy".

Rhyming games can be good, especially for younger children.  Try sharing words through the alphabet.  Start with a word beginning with 'a' and then move to 'be', etc.  Even the most reluctant older kids can often be lured in for at least a couple of rounds.

Creating silly songs is an idea that has worked for us.  Recently we made a trip to Gatlinburg with four of our granddaughters.  We saw a mamma bear with three small cubs eating berries.  It wasn't long before we were all singing a silly song about bears eating berries in the woods.

Take Breaks And Bring Snacks

Frequent stops are always a good idea with children.  There are always going to be the eventual restroom stops and it's good just to stop and stretch your legs.  Even if you're pressed for time, the break will be enough to stretch your legs and get a bit to snack on.

Speaking of snacks.  It's always a good idea to keep some extra drinks and snacks on hand.  Crackers, fruit and some cookies are fun choices.  This way, when the kids get hungry, not if, they can have a small something to tide their appetites over until you can stop for a full meal.

Include Child-Friendly Stops

Depending on your destination, you may or may not have some flexibility in this, but if it is at all possible, try and plan some fun stops for the kids. Longer than a simple rest-stop trip.  If it's a lengthy car trip, making a leisure stop will help break up the monotony, get everyone some nice time to stretch out, and the kids won't go from being bored at a rest stop to more boredom in the car.

Some great choices are state parks, playgrounds, kid-oriented museums or other sight-seeing locations. Even anywhere that has a patch of grass where they can safely run around. It doesn't matter where you choose, what matters is the stops are places the kids can burn off some of that built-up energy and have some fun in a change of scenery before loading back up in the car.

Traveling the open road with the family is one of those things that can be a wonderful memory in the making, or can end up as one of those horrible childhood memories of being squished in the car and bored. If you plan ahead of time and be sure the kids have enough to keep them occupied, you'll ensure it will be a treasured event for years to come.

Going on a road trip with the family indeed has its ups and downs, but by making the trip more child-friendly, you and your children will have some pretty terrific memories to take home and keep forever.

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