10 Tips For A Smooth Family Road Trip

Do you find yourself dreading the annual family vacation? Does the idea of a road trip with your kids make your toes curl? Sure, family vacations can be stressful, but the joys can far outweigh the woes if you begin with realistic expectations and plan carefully. The following tips will go a long way toward making your family road trip memorable for all of the rights reasons.

1. Schedule twice as much time as you think you will need. If you are planning a 4-hour road trip to the family reunion, leave 8 hours before the scheduled event. If you arrive early, find a local playground and let the kids run off some steam before they have to politely greet all of their aunts and uncles.

2. Print the map. It tempting to do a quick check on MapQuest and head on out the door. But taking an extra 2 minutes to print out the map can save you two hours of wandering around, lost in Amish country or on the big city expressway.

3. Stay clean. Kids (and parents) get sweaty and grimy on hot car trips, so bring plenty of wet wipes to wash hands and faces at each rest stop. Take a few minutes to de-trash your car at each rest stop, and you’ll feel much more relaxed and energized when you reach your vacation destination.

4. Try to maintain regular routines. Try to get the kids to bed no more than a half hour past their regular bedtimes. If your young children still nap at home, try to arrange a similar nap schedule while on vacation. An all-day adventure will quickly turn to chaos if you two-year-old misses his afternoon nap, so why not plan to enjoy the amusement park in the evening when the weather is cooler and the crowds are thinner?

5. Plan short excursions. This allows you more flexibility to work around nap and meal schedules.

6. Schedule time for goofing around. The kids (and parents) get cranky when they are constantly dragged from one activity to the next. Why not take the morning off to hang out at the hotel pool, or let the kids play with their own toys in the hotel room.

7. Keep plenty of snacks on hand, but skip any perishable foods. A bag of goldfish crackers can be a lifesaver when find yourself stuck in the slow line at Disney.

8. Pack lightly and be prepared to do laundry. Laundry day offers a wonderful bit of downtime during a hectic week of vacation and allows you to travel much lighter.

9. Let your kids take some of the pictures. You will probably be amazed at the quality and creativity of photographs taken by kids. If you want to hold on to the expensive digital camera, why not give each of your kids a disposable camera of their own for the week?

10. Keep your sense of humor! Whether it is a wrong turn, a forgotten item, or even a forgotten kid, it would not be a family vacation if something did not go amiss. But the biggest vacation bloopers usually make the best vacation memories – the ones you and your kids will be laughing about for years to come. So keep a smile on your face at all times. If you laugh, your kids will laugh along with you.