Road trip season is upon us. With the rising price of airfare and the need for family bonding, there has never been a better time to fill up the tank or charge up the battery and pick a place on the map to venture off to with the kids. But how do you keep them occupied along the way? Here are some easy, family-tried tips to make the journey as pleasurable and peaceful as possible.
1. Plan your route with purposeful pauses.
The journey to anywhere is just as important as the destination. Purposeful pauses allow for the stretching of legs, removing of tension and allows everyone, including the driver, to enjoy the experience. Think of the length of your favorite superhero movie – about two and half hours - as an ideal drive time before pausing. A quick peek at your route, and you will see some natural pause points.
Some easy things to pause for include: intentional bathroom breaks, taking a moment to check out a sign for a historical landmark, stopping to explore a random local marvel like a giant ball of yarn, enjoying a stretch break in a park with a beautiful view, and letting the kids research a local haunt for a midway meal break.
2. Charge devices before you leave.
Even though many newer vehicles are equipped with generous tech connectivity options, it is a smart and sanity-saving thing to fully charge all devices that your family intends to carry along before departure.
3. Pack snacks that everyone in the car likes to eat.
It almost goes without saying that on any road trip snacks will be consumed. The simplest route is to choose snacks that everyone in the car enjoys eating, that are easily consumed, and do not require utensils. I typically choose snacks that are individually wrapped. My family plans for a variety of sandwiches, chips, trail mix, individually bagged dry cereal, grab-and-go fruit, and a drink for each passenger.
4. Utilize non-digital resources.
It’s helpful to have a back-up set of resources at your disposal after you’ve exhausted your planned purposeful pauses, snacks, and the device time limits have worn off. Some of my family’s favorites are listening to an audiobook about the area we are driving through, playing Eye-Spy (searching your surroundings for interesting tidbits, finding and discussing them), or whipping out our old-school crayon bag that we pair with a hard surface like a hardcover book, paper and pencils for each non-driving passenger.
5. Bonus Tip: Get input from each passenger.
Older children and teens especially like to feel included in the planning process. Ask them to help plan some of the purposeful pauses or to research something along the route like Instagrammable murals, historical figures, and local sites to see. You can even encourage them to create the route that you’ll be driving along. The more invested they are and the more input they give into the planning process, the more engaged they will be. And that makes for a peaceful road trip.