How to Plan a Road Trip with Children

The winter is almost over, and spring break is upon us. If you’re thinking about taking your family for a fun vacation this spring or summer, consider a road trip. Road trips are great for children because they’ll see more of our great country than they would in a plane. It’s also fun to stop at different landmarks on the way, not only to see the great stuff our country has to offer, but also to stretch your legs and stop and smell the roses. Family time is irreplaceable, so take your time getting to where you’re going. However, with any long trip, there is a chance that kids might get restless. If you travel prepared, though, you’ll have a happy trip.
Road Games
There is a huge variety of games, kids can play while on the road. From trying to find license plates from each state, to singing road trip songs, these classic games can be played with little to no money. If you visit your local bookstore, you can find a section of books that have all of these games in them already. However, if you don’t want to spend the money on these books, you can create them yourself. Find pictures of license plates from different states and collect them together for your kids to see, before they hit the road. You can also grab a CD from your local library that has all the sing-along songs on it for you to enjoy.

Books
For the bookworm in your family, head to your library or bookstore and stock up on books they have always wanted to read. If your kids can read without getting car sick, it’s a great time to practice reading skills and catch up on books they’re excited about. Make sure these are books for fun; let them pick out whatever they want. It is vacation, after all!

Technology
If you’re OK letting your kids use technology on family vacations, let them bring along portable DVD players or game centers. This can keep them occupied and not fighting for hours. However, put a time limit on any technology they use. Nothing is more annoying than trying to talk to your kids, while they are busy texting on their phones or playing games. Maybe allow them to use the technology between certain stops, but no more. Also, be sure you have a rule that, during meals, they cannot use their devices. Family vacation time is time for the family to spend together, not on their separate devices.
Food
Food is the best way to keep kids happy. Children often get hungry before adults do, so keeping several options for snacks on hand can help, keep your kids calm and full. This can also help you save money while on the road by making it, so you don’t have to stop at rest stops or restaurants, where you’re sure to spend a lot of money.
Sleepy Time
Vacations are time to rest up, so let your kids sleep during the car ride if they are able. Bring along pillows and blankets and even some favorite stuffed animals and calming music and let them cuddle up in the back seat – as long as they are still wearing their seat belts, of course! This will not only keep them quiet, but also prevent them from getting crabby due to exhaustion.

What to Bring on a Road Trip

The spontaneity and excitement of a road trip is unparalleled by any other. And with the vacation time round the corner, a few weeks of fun on the open, wide roads, can be an experience of a lifetime. Having said that, road trips can be a nightmare if not properly planned. You obviously do not want to be lost in some godforsaken place, in freezing temperatures, eating refried beans and cheese burritos. So, for all those who want to make their trip a fulfilling and fun experience, make a checklist for the road trip.

This should include a checking of your vehicle, preparing for emergencies, stocking in on your entertainment needs, and getting your navigational tools in place. Oh, and I forgot the most important part of the road trip planning process, i.e stocking up the food and the drinks for the trip. I know this may go against the spirit of a spontaneous road trip, but believe me it will save you lots of hassles on the road, not to mention a significant amount of money.

Things to Bring on a Road Trip
The obvious thumb rule when packing for a road trip, is that ‘less is more’. So instead of stockpiling a whole lot of things into your car, make a checklist of what you need on the trip. This ensures that nothing is forgotten in a last minute hurry.

Luggage Sets: Select the smallest duffel bag or a backpack that you can find, and try to fit in the stuff that you need for the journey into it. Leave behind the big suitcases, as there are few things as unpleasant as having to haul a giant suitcase around when traveling. For a long journey, pack your clean clothes into small plastic bags and throw in a large laundry bag for the soon-to-be dirty clothes. Also make sure to pack a pair of comfortable sandals and a good pair of hiking shoes for the journey.

Music: What is a good road trip without great music so whether you are in a car, van, or an RV, stock up the CDs for a long journey. Sometimes the ready-made playlists and albums can get quite boring. A great idea is to use an iPod and just borrow songs from the people you visit. Please do not count on the radio, unless you want to be stuck with bad twangy pop and Christian radio.

Camera: This is an essential for all those people, who are not quite so eloquent with words. Describing the fun you had on your great adventure journey can be easy if you have loads of pictures. Well, you do not have to be a pro to get the right shots. With a simple point and shoot digital camera, you can get some great pictures and show them to your grandchildren, when you are really old.

A GPS Navigation System: Say goodbye to your travel maps. GPS navigation systems with built-in maps, are an ideal way of making the chances of your getting lost from slim to nil. It not only shows you where you are on the map, but also provides real-time updates of your location. In addition, they offer automatic route-planning, and turn-by-turn directions, making it virtually impossible to get lost.

Cash or Credit: Well, if you are going to use it, you also have to pay for it. You can carry cash or if you are just wary of carrying a wad of dollars, just stick with the plastic money. Then there are the handy traveler’s checks, that can be purchased at travel agencies, like AAA and through American Express.

Food: Believe me, life is much simpler without those greasy burgers and the gas station pretzels, so be wise and pack in your food. Keep a stock of healthy road trip snacks and other dry food, in a separate bag, and use a large cooler for juice, soda, and water. You can also keep meat, fruit, and raw veggies in the cooler. Remember to get a garbage bag for all the trash.

First Aid Kit: An essential for all long journeys, first aid kits can be bought or made. Simply put your antiseptics, ointments, bandages, and aspirins in a plastic bag. Personally, I like to carry a hand cleanser and a sunscreen along with it.

A Journal: Ok, this is not really indispensable, but carrying a journal allows you to pen down your thoughts. It is great for people wanting to memorize the little details of their journey.

In addition to this, you can find a list of things that you can also take along with you. A host of other stuff for your entertainment needs, like a portable DVD player, a supply of books and magazines, portable board games, or a laptop are some great trip accessories. The most important thing is to travel light, so that you can enjoy and have a relaxing, fun trip, without having to bother about the pile of stuff lying in your car.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks

Even if you’re not a calorie conscious person, it is wise to keep away from the chocolate bars and ice cream sodas, as the intake of sugar in these products can make you drowsy. The next few lines will throw light on healthy snacks that are favorable on a road trip.

Fruits and Vegetables
On any road trip, a fair share of fruits such as bananas, apples, grapes, and oranges are a great way to fight hunger. You can have these fruits either whole or opt for a fruit salad. In case you decide to carry fruit salad on your road trip, see to it that it’s kept in a little ice box. You can also dice fruits and vegetables and make your favorite dips. Carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes too make a great snack. Carrying a small pocket knife always comes in handy during a road trip.

Snacks at Restaurants
If you haven’t packed healthy snacks for your road trip and want to stop for a quick bite, you can order an omelet stuffed with vegetables and accompanied with brown bread. If you have a sweet tooth, you could choose a muffin which has a good nutritional value. A glass of fresh fruit juice adds to the fiber and vitamin quotient. You can also choose whole wheat toast with some peanut butter. For all you potato lovers, baked potato chips are a good option instead of the greasy deep-fried ones. Sandwiches with spinach and low-fat cheese are another great option. Make sure you order whole wheat bread for your sandwiches. For those who cannot resist chicken, preferably opt for the baked variety, rather than the fried ones.

Dry Fruits
These are a great snack on a long road trip. Dry fruits and nuts are a great combination for any road trip, be it any place. You can pack a whole variety of raisins along with almonds, walnuts, and pecans to add that tangy flavor to your appetite. See to it that you consume these in small proportions, rather than all at one go, as too much of anything can cause stomach upsets.

Cookies
These are a favorite with children on road trips. Keep in mind the type of cookies that you take along. Avoid gooey cookies that can mess up the interiors of the car. Dry cookies are a safe option when it comes to road trips. You can choose walnut and almond cookies or the ones with chocolate chips, depending on the preferences of your children. Cookies made from oat are another great option for any road trip.

During a road trip make sure that you consume a lot of water to avoid dehydration. Scoops of yogurt and fresh fruit juice along the way are a refreshing way to beat the heat. Packing a healthy snack on a road trip doesn’t mean cramming in snacks that could serve an entire generation. Pack the required amount of snacks that you will need for that specific trip and enjoy the memorable experience.

Games for a Road Trip

A road trip is always associated with excitement. But sometimes, traveling by road can be painful, with kids getting bored and start nagging. People also have a tendency to doze off during a road trip by car, making others feel sleepy. There are many technological toys like video games and DVD players that can ward off boredom. But, as there is no social interaction involved, there is a possibility of getting bored with these options too. In such a situation, there is nothing better than a good game! Here are some car games that can add to the fun quotient of your trip. Such games for a road trip can make traveling lively for kids as well as for adults. Let us go through some popular games, which can be incorporated in your road trip.

  • License Plate Games: In order to play this game, you need some paper and pens. If you have five members, everybody should write some random numbers and alphabets on their paper. You can cross a number or an alphabet, whenever you see the same on the license plate of a passing vehicle. The first person to complete the task will be the winner. Another game is making words out of the alphabets written on the license plates of the first five vehicles you see. The person, who makes the maximum number of words, within a stipulated time will be the winner. Alternatively, you can play a different game by jotting down the numbers of vehicles. Each one can write five different numbers by taking turns, so that there is no repetition. Then each one has to add the numbers and the person with the highest total score will be the winner.
  • Alphabet Games: This is one of the popular games for a road trip. A member starts with a letter. Each player has to subsequently add an alphabet, so as to form a meaningful new word. Another way to play with alphabets is to assign each person with one alphabet, and ask them to write the maximum number of words starting with that alphabet, within a given time. The member who comes up with the maximum number of words will win. You can also play a memory game with alphabets. The first person has to start with a word beginning with ‘A’. The next person has to recall the first word and add a new word beginning with ‘B’. Successive players have to remember and recall all the words from the beginning, adding a new word each time. The one who fails to remember the previous words will be out of the game.
  • Who Am I: In this game, each player is supposed to give clues about a particular person (can be your neighbor, relative or a celebrity) and others have to recognize him/her. This is an interesting as well as informative game.
    Geography Game: This game can be played with the names of various places in the world. One member can start with a particular place, say, Sydney. The next person has to come up with a name, starting from the last alphabet of the word Sydney – ‘Y’. The same process continues, till someone fails. You cannot repeat the name of a place. You can also play using names of movies, celebrities, animals, etc.
  • I Spy: This is another popular road game, where you have to select a particular object or thing in the car and give clues to the others about the same. Other members have to recognize it. Preferably, always choose something in the visual range of all the members.
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors: This action-oriented game is very popular among kids. In this game, the players put both hands behind their backs. Then, they bring out a hand in any one of the following actions: clenched fist (meaning a rock), flat hand (meaning paper) or a V-shaped first and middle finger (meaning scissors). The meaning of these actions are as follows: A scissor can cut a paper, a paper can cover a rock and a rock can beat a scissor. If there are two players, they have to show closed fists (rock) in the first two rounds. From the third round, they can show any one of the three actions described – rock, paper or scissors, and play according to the meanings mentioned above. If both payers choose the same gesture, there will be a tie and one more chance will be given, to select the winner.
  • Treasure Bottle: This game needs a little preparation before embarking on a road trip. Take transparent plastic containers with lids. Fill 3/4th of the container with rice and add some small ‘treasures’ like, buttons, bolts, logos, etc. Count the treasures and write the number on the lid. Now you are ready for the game. The players need to roll the container and find out the treasures. This game can be made more exciting, by keeping some small gifts along with the other things.

Besides the above mentioned games, you can always resort to playing card tricks, mad libs, magnetic versions of board games like chess, art kits, etc. Games are a welcome change and can make a boring road trip fun-filled. Even if some of the games are meant mainly for kids, adults can also participate in them and enjoy. So, the next time you go for a road trip, do remember to plan some games. They will definitely add some zing to your road trip!