Are you intimidated by going on a road trip and taking long car rides with your children? Don't worry, it's much easier than it seems when you're well-prepared!
Traveling with children will never be the same as traveling with adults, and that's the most important aspect to consider before starting to plan everything. But that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable, quite the opposite! I have wonderful memories of my road trips with my children, and it's definitely not over yet (we're actually converting a van to go on even more adventures together).
With a bit of organization and flexibility, it can be done. And we avoid overplanning 101 activities and constantly being on the go. Here are some tips that help us have a smooth journey.
Travel as light as possible
Do you feel like you're moving when you go on vacation with your children? Traveling light is an art that can be learned. The beauty of going on an adventure is that we have plenty of new things to discover, so there's no need to bring all the little gadgets we have at home. Here's what we do to travel light:
- Use compression bags to save space for our clothes.
- Give each child a backpack that they can bring with them in the back seat to store their games, electronics, and other personal belongings.
- Bring versatile clothes and accessories that can be worn multiple times, like multifunctional tubes that can be used to tie hair, protect ears from the cool air, and much more!
- Bring only a few games and toys for the road and accommodation; there's no need to fill an entire suitcase!
- Consider the items available at the destination to avoid cluttering ourselves with unnecessary things.
Are you afraid of forgetting something? In the majority of places you'll visit, you'll find a grocery store, a convenience store, a supermarket, and a pharmacy. So leave the "just in case!" items at home and prioritize the essentials.
The more space your children have to be comfortable in the back, the less likely they'll be to complain during the journey.
Make the road a fun game
Prepare in advance playlists for soft music or for car karaoke. Print out road trip games, such as travel bingo, a camping-themed seek-and-find, or a license plate challenge. And why not bring back classic games from our childhood, like counting the yellow cars we see, playing "I spy with my little eye...", or creating the longest sequence in the game "In my suitcase, I bring...".
If you're lacking ideas, Lalita's Art Shop has prepared several in "The Guide to Successful Vacations."
Listen to signs of fatigue, hunger, and irritability.
When we're hungry, we stop to eat before any arguments break out in the car. To avoid stopping at every town, we bring plenty of snacks to feed the children. A small granola bar and a few strawberries can quickly calm a tantrum.
But we also listen to ourselves when it comes to fatigue to avoid irritability and losing the enjoyment of the road trip. If the driver feels tired, we switch drivers. If we're experiencing a little slump, it's time to stop and change the scenery. When the children are tired of sitting, we look for a nearby park to let them stretch their legs and burn off some energy. With luck, they'll fall asleep in the car afterward! The more rested your children are, the more beautiful moments you'll have together.
Be open to spontaneous stops along the way.
It's important to take the time to have fun rather than just focusing on reaching your destination in one long straight line. Personally, we like to stop every two hours or so to stretch our legs and enjoy our road trip vacation. So, we keep an eye out for signs to see if there's something interesting along the way. We also pay close attention to the scenery and the towns we pass through, as it sometimes leads us to discover hidden gems.
It could be a beautiful park with playgrounds for children, a secluded beach, a small museum, or even a local farmers' market. Anything can become an interesting stop if we keep our eyes and hearts open.
Lalita's Art Shop
As a mother of two children, I aim to inspire families to embark on adventures, explore Quebec, travel, and have fun together! That's why I created the blog "Marie-Ève et famille" where I share activities for all ages, adventure ideas, and travel tips with children. We are also nearing the completion of converting our van to hit the road whenever we want. Let's go... We're off!