How To Survive a Road Trip with Kids

By Dejan B.. Published on April 17, 2017

Programming a family road trip without involving the whole family in the planning can be the recipe for disaster. On the other hand, allowing children to actively participate in the process can bring the family together and ensure a more pleasurable travel experience.

The Power of the Five E's

The traditional way to plan a road trip was to plot coordinates on a map, measuring out the distance you could travel in a day and getting there as efficiently as possible. A new generation of parents is learning to appreciate "slow travel", sharing the power of road travel to:

Excite. A vacation is a time to involve the family and share the potential for discovery. The planning and anticipation of the journey can be as fulfilling as the trip itself.

Exercise. Kids create energy – both positive and negative! Planning trips that help kids release pent-up energy create more relaxed road trips and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors along the way.

Educate. Exercise is mental, too. A road trip provides the chance for kids to learn about geography, history and other topics in a very natural way. Touching, tasting or hearing stories about things they had previously only seen on the Internet or in a book add dimension and meaning that can last a lifetime.

Experience. Evoking a sense of wonder and awe is a way to cultivate mindfulness, curiosity, gratefulness, and hopefulness in adults and children. Anticipating and then experiencing new places and activities provides opportunities for awe-inspiring discoveries.

Enjoy. Most of all, a healthy and engaging family trip makes everyone happier, both in and outside of the car.

As more adults – and children for that matter – are discovering the benefits of mindfulness, slow travel becomes a way for everyone to take the time to savor where they are and what they are doing, whether that is overlooking a mountain valley on a clear fall day or licking a dripping ice cream cone at an old-fashioned confectionery on Main Street in Smalltown, USA.

Family with two kids loading the car for a road trip

Practical Tips for Successful Road Trips

Write the Five E's on a sticky note and place it on your monitor or travel notebook and refer to this list often. If the majority of the activities you plan excite, exercise, educate, enhance experience or make the journey more enjoyable for the whole family, you're well on your way to a successful road trip.

Whether a weekend jaunt or a weeks-long epic adventure, there are many other simple things you can do to make the time your family spends together even more enriching. You'll be spending a lot of time together in the car or van, so you'll also want to plan for comfort, convenience, bonding and quiet time. For example, certain supplies should be kept close at hand in easy-to-access tote bags rather than stored in the suitcases stowed away to be used at your ultimate destination. Here are other ideas for keeping the kids happy and well-occupied before and during your vacation:

Don't plan your next road trip with speed and efficiency as your top priority. Rather, embrace the process and engage your children. As soon as you pull out of your driveway, you leave knowing you have miles to go before you sleep. Make each of them as fun and enjoyable as possible, and allow everyone to fully appreciate the unique and ageless freedom offered by the open road!


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