My wife and I have been planning and doing road trips with our twins since they were nine months old. That first trip to Niagara Falls was my bad idea, but it, at least, taught me a great deal about what you need to do, both to prepare for a road trip, and how to make it successful. These tips for both organizing and during a road trip should help make these summer family ventures more enjoyable.
1. Plan ahead! Start off by making a list of everything you will be bringing. My wife not only does this, she checks off each item as it is packed, and if it is an annual or regular trip such as our family takes to the cottage, then she revises the list on her computer. She also highlights items that still need to be purchased. When our twins were very young, obviously things like diapers were on this list. The toys or travel games you will bring will likely change. And even the need for a stroller or a portable play apparatus will not be needed as the kids grow older. It is also important to be aware of things such as your children’s nap (if applicable) and bed times and try to plan travel around these as much as possible.
2. Since you are driving, think of where you might stop to eat and/or for washroom breaks. A GPS, if you have one, may be able to help in this regard. Smart phones and tablets have apps that can find the nearest restaurant or gas station. My personal favourite travel app is “Timmy’s Me” which locates the nearest Tim Horton’s (a Canadian and northern US fast food and coffee chain) location and can even narrow the list down to the drive thru locations only. The AAA and CAA still offer map routes and flip chart style directions from any point in North America to another if you are a member.
3. Strollers should be approached on a trip by trip basis. It really depends on a few factors. An important factor is how much you might use the stroller and for what purposes. One thing that you might not have thought about is how dependent or not your kids are on a stroller. And in certain situations, cost may also be a factor. We had a large, heavy, and expensive Mountain Buggy Urban Double and two small, cheap umbrella strollers. We rarely used the last two items. When we went to the cottage, the large double stroller was a must. We would take long walks in the countryside with it. We packed it into the back of our vehicle, on top of all our other luggage, and baby equipment. But when we travelled to Disney World when our twins were about to turn four, they didn’t want to be in a stroller anymore. After much debate, we took a chance and considered renting a double stroller at the parks at over $30 a day. But after testing the kids out by walking in the Magic Kingdom on day one, we never did rent a stroller on that trip. We sold the double stroller shortly afterwards.
4. Have the kids help you pack their stuff as much as you can. When our twins were only two or three years old, we would get them to select a stuffed animal to bring along with a couple of other toys that would go in the suitcase. Our twins now help choose their clothes each day for school and so we let them choose some for when we are going away as well. They can also pick out such items as beach towels and pajamas. As I mentioned in an earlier tip, we also let them choose a DVD to bring, if we are bringing the portable player. The more they feel included in the packing, the fewer problems you will have when you are at your destination. This also gives them something to do rather than bother you while you are trying to pack up. You might also want to pack them a separate suitcase so you don’t have to rummage through your own clothes, to get their stuff out. This strategy further allows you to pack your own clothes and necessities at your convenience. Happy traveling!