Important Family Road Trip Advice For Planning A Fun And Stress-Free Journey
It all sounds so wonderful… bundling the family into the van and heading off to discover new regions while exploring interesting sites along the way; what could go wrong? Anyone who has watched Chevy Chase’s Vacation movies, knows there are lots of pitfalls waiting along the way. From family arguments to vehicle breakdowns, missed turns and rainy days, there is a lot to prepare for to assure a fun journey. A bit of advance planning will help prevent family squabbles and other pitfalls. Here are our genius family road trip tips to help avoid conflict and make your travels stress-free and full of great memories.
#1 Give Everyone A Chance To Help Plan Your Route
All too often one person in the family will tackle the tricky task of planning the road trip route, stops and activities. It’s far better to involve everyone in the planning to make them feel invested and excited about the trip. Have a brief family meeting to discuss where you will be traveling to and ask each person to suggest and research some road trip sites and activities they would like to do. You can even make the kids the ‘boss’ of a particular day where they plan the whole day. This will give them a much better appreciation of how much work goes into planning a great day on the road.
#2 Share The Chores
No one wants to feel like they are totally responsible for everyone and everything all the time. Share the responsibility of planning the day, overseeing the family and sharing information about the next stop. You might make one person responsible for luggage loading, choosing where to eat and stay, reading maps and apps and being the co-navigator.
#3 Don’t Rush
Allow plenty of time to get from one destination to another and to find attractions. We all know that when we are short on time, nerves get frazzled, things are left behind and often questionable decisions are made (like speeding on the highway, etc). Use your GPS or mapping apps to plot just how much time you need for your day’s itinerary. Realize that you may need to adjust your itinerary as you go. And be sure to be off the road and settled into your lodging and gassed up before dark.
#4 Plan and Bring Along Some Surpises
There’s nothing better to put a smile on everyone’s face than adding a nice surprise to the day. Always be open to adding some serendipity on your journey. That might be a stop when you see a homemade ice cream sign, seeing a quirky roadside attraction, or taking the advice of a local about a neat site nearby. Also, consider packing a surprise treat bag to pull out when the kids are being particularly annoying (or cooperative) in the back seat!
#5 Agree on How to Disagree
The family should realize that there will be times on your journey when you disagree and get on each other’s nerves. Since you will be traveling in a small space these annoyances can escalate. Decide on a strategy in advance for resolving conflicts. You may want to turn to a source like BetterHelp.com to connect with someone for immediate advice, or agree, for instance, that everyone can voice one big complaint per day that the family will try to resolve. It’s also a good idea to get everyone’s agreement in advance that during this short time no one will have a temper tantrum meltdown or go off in a huff.
#6 Vary Types of Activities
Be aware that everyone in your family will have a differing attention span for most activities. While one person may find a museum fascinating, another might consider it a drag. Some may go for long hikes and others prefer a boating excursion. Keep everyone’s interests and capabilities in mind and do a variety of experiences during your trip.
You should also do some advanced research for interesting road trip games that can be played in the car during your drives. You may have a movie player, or find audio kid’s books to play. Don’t fight about the music, find a compromise music style that everyone can tolerate. Or, allow your kids to bring a music player and headphones. Just be sure they don’t spend the whole journey with their eyes on a computer game and ears tuning the family out.
#7 If Possible Allow Some Time Apart
This may mean that one parent takes some of the kids for an activity while the other parent and kids do something different. Or you may be able to allow your kids to play in the hotel game room or another safe environment when you are close by but not directly with them. This of course will depend on ages. A bit of freedom is appreciated by everyone – just be sure it’s a safe activity.
#8 Realize Something Will Always Go Wrong
No matter how carefully you plan your trip, it will never be exactly as you anticipate it. You may run into some rainy weather, illness, mechanical problems, or someone just having a bad day. Roll with it and try to think imaginatively about alternate plans. Sometimes last-minute substitute plans turn into the highlight of your trip. It’s always a useful exercise to keep a list of plan B activities on any trip that you take.