Family road trips

Tips to make your vacations go smoothly

By StatePoint

Family road trips

Hitting the road with the family? Experts say there’s no reason to view the journey itself as a pre-vacation chore.

Family time in the car can be a great opportunity for bonding and making memories. Planning before you get on the road will go a long way toward keeping everyone relaxed and happy.

To keep road warriors comfortable and content, here are some tips:

Prepare your vehicle.

Check the wear and pressure on your tires, and be sure your fluids (oil, coolant and wiper fluid) are topped off.

Make it an adventure.

Just because you have an ultimate destination doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fun stuff in between. Check your route for family-friendly stops along the way, such as a zoo, park or even a toy store to give kids something to look forward. It can also break the trip into manageable pieces.

Leave plenty of time to get where you are going.

Schedule your departure time to keep this in mind. When you plan, consult at least two online driving directions, such as google.com, mapquest.com and randmcnally.com for an idea of estimated times. Then plan for extra time for fun stops and unforeseen traffic congestion.

Involve teenagers in your plans.

Asking them beforehand what they’d like to see or do can go a long way to prevent them from shutting down. If they don’t volunteer ideas, stay patient and show them possible places to stop on an online map.

Keep little ones engaged.

Technology features like built-in screens and DVD players can be saviors on the road. If your car doesn’t come equipped with these, consider bringing along a handheld device on which little ones can play games or watch videos. And if technology isn’t your thing, remember that magnetized board games and word games work just as well.

Bring snacks.

Greasy food isn’t the best for staying alert or feeling good. Instead of relying on fast food, bring small, healthy snacks to keep kids (and adults) content. Great options include protein bars, cheese cubes and bread sticks, and fruits and vegetables that are easy to eat like carrot sticks, bananas and apples.

Encourage travel journals.

This can be in writing form or by taking photos of memorable stops to post online, or both. Bring stamps so your kids can mail postcards, too.

Have baby wipes and hand sanitizers on hand.

Even if your kids aren’t in diapers anymore, wipes are great for wiping faces, car interiors and restaurant tables.

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