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How to survive a family road trip

A family road trip can build experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. But they can also be painful and frustrating for everyone involved if you aren’t careful. Two moms and road trip pros share their tips on how to make your next family journey a pleasant one.

Family going on road trip to beach

Keep them nourished

As any parent knows, a hungry child is a cranky child. So Peek Thru Our Window’s SamiJoe, who is a mom of two little boys, is careful to ensure she packs snacks — and lots of them. She finds that carrots and celery travel particularly well, and apples take a while to finish off, which makes them a great healthy snack for kids old enough to enjoy them. She also suggests keeping snacks in resealable containers to eliminate crumbs and drips. These containers can also come in really handy if you choose to stop for fast food, because you can place such meals as a burger and fries into one, and it will act as a manageable plate for your child, explains SamiJoe. And when it comes to staying hydrated, she suggests filling a stainless steel Thermos with cold drinking water.

Make it about the journey

SamiJoe explains that “it isn’t how you get there; it is the journey.” So to make a trip more enjoyable, she tracks down parks or other interesting to-dos along the way that will make for entertaining stops every few hours. The opportunity for everyone to get some fresh air and stretch their legs for a little while will make the rest of the trip more comfortable. Plus, you and the rest of your family can tell of all the cool, free touristy things you did along the way!

Find out more ways to keep your kids entertained on a road trip >>

Set some guidelines

Although you want the ride to be a smooth and pleasant one, you also want it to be about more than just keeping the kids quiet. Road trips are a wonderful opportunity for bonding time. So rather than popping in a movie right from the start, SamiJoe employs a 90-minute rule. That means no electronics for the first hour and a half. Until then, it’s all about reading, drawing or playing games as a family. She suggests heading to a local dollar store ahead of time to pick up a few new items to make the trip even more fun.

Roll with the punches

Although you might stress about how to ensure your road trip goes perfectly, Jen at Little Miss Mocha suggests that “family road trips require a mix of planning, luck and a roll-with-it attitude.” As a mom of two who loves exploring all the beautiful sights Alberta has to offer, she has done her fair share of driving with little ones. She explains, “The best advice I can give is to plan ahead, then let go of whatever you need to in order to make it work.”

See how to plan great road trip foods >>

Be prepared

To prepare for the journey, Jen begins by packing snacks and comforting entertainment items for her little ones. If you’re planning to have them watch a movie or two and have an older child who can handle the remote and DVDs, place those supplies within his or her reach so you have one less thing to worry about. She also suggests lining the car seats of very little kids with liners designed to protect mattresses. She simply cuts them up and tucks them under a toddler to keep car seats from getting soaked. SamiJoe adds that it doesn’t hurt to bring an inexpensive children’s potty (, $7) along just in case.

Don’t stress — have fun

When all is said and done, Jen explains, “The reality is, things don’t always work according to plan.” If things don’t go as you expected and you have to pull over to the side of the road to change a diaper or need to stop by a gas station to get some fresh snacks, that’s OK. Bottom line, she says, “You do what you have to, and it’s worth it.”

Happy travelling!

More on family travel

The value of travelling as a family
Travelling with kids: Tips for moms
Long weekend ideas

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