When I was a child, our summer vacations were usually a three hour journey from our front door to the door of where we were staying. Most of the time we journeyed to our vacation destination via car and ferry. My sister and I loved that our parents were sharing with us all of the fabulous sites that our province had to offer whether we were camping by a lake, staying in a cottage by the ocean, or exploring the coast in an RV.
Now that I’m a mother myself, I am taking a page out of my parents’ book. My husband and I alternate our family vacations. Some destinations are by plane, and we alternate with places closer to home.
Our last road trip was an epic two day journey from Vancouver to Calgary in 30 degree heat with a 1 year old, a 5 year old, a 12 year old yorkie and two very cranky parents. I think the kids survived the road trip better than the parents and the dog did. Despite all of the “bumps in the road” we managed to have a great time, see sites both awe inspiring (Lake Louise) and entertaining (The Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke) and spend time bonding as a family.
After our trip, I put together 5 tips to make future road trips smoother. Pin them for easy reference for your next road trip.
5 Tips for a Fabulous Family Road Trip
1. Make Your Road Trip About the Journey, Not The Destination- It’s so easy to get caught up in “We have to be to X destination by X day.” When planning your next road trip try to throw your timeline to the wind and enjoy your journey. Not getting caught up in how long it’s taking you to get from here to there will allow you to enjoy your stops more and not get so frustrated when the kids need an extra pee stop or chance to stretch their legs.
2. Be Flexible- Children can be unpredictable. Sometimes naps happen and it’s better to let sleeping children lie than wake them for a pre-scheduled activity and risk the crankies. Save the stop for your trip back home and continue on or take a road trip break, find a shady parking spot, roll down the windows and enjoy a good book. Be willing to be flexible depending on your children’s moods. Making a trip to the history museum may not be the best plan if your kids are feeling cooped up and extra rambunctious. Being prepared to make unexpected changes depending on the moods of your passengers will lead to a much happier family road trip.
3. Plan Ahead- Research pit stops along the way, a list of pet friendly parks and hotels if you are traveling with a furry companion, family friendly restaurants, gas stations and site seeing opportunities. Even if you don’t end up needing all the resources you collect you’ll be happy to have them when you need them, especially when you get stuck in the mountains with no data coverage. (Does it sound like I’m speaking from experience???)
4. Bring Food… Lots of it- Nothing causes the crankies like an empty tummy. Bring a range of snacking options, in pre-portioned containers or snack bags and make sure that you put them someplace that is easy to access. Fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are all great great snack options but make sure to include some treats as well to avoid expensive gas station cravings.
5. Plan Entertainment- Before I was a mom, I swore up and down that I would NEVER have a DVD player in my car. Now that I am a mom I often rethink that decision. Let’s face it, even the most amazing kids can get bored when cooped up in a car for too long. Hearing “Are we there yet?” for the 100th time will try any parent’s patience. Create a playlist of family friendly songs on your phone, learn the words to a few good road trip tunes, research car road trip games, find a few car travel games and activities and when all else fails… have your kid’s favourite movie loaded on the iPad.