My family recently took a two-week road trip, when we moved from Arizona to Alaska. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the words “I’m bored,” I’d be a millionaire. If you’re about to embark on a road trip with your loved ones, here are some of the things that I’ve found to be helpful to keep everyone happy and sane—including you.
It’s fun to imagine just getting in the car and driving off into the sunset, but all trips require some planning (especially if you’re traveling with family!) Be sure to get your car serviced, pack printed maps, comfortable clothes, snacks and water, activities for the kids, and anything else that would make your travel easy and efficient. Carry cash, and be sure to include essentials, such as a car phone charger.
Do Include the Kids in the Fun
Kids may get bored because they feel like they’re not part of the fun. Whether it’s clever games while driving (like I Spy), or handing them a camera to document the trip, including the little ones in different parts of the trip will keep them engaged. Other things you might want to bring include books/activity books, crayons, magnetic games such as Hangman, a deck of cards, and portable games.
Do Try Local Restaurants
While it is tempting to hit the familiar chain restaurants along the way, we offered the kids a greater variety—and better quality food—by finding out where the locals ate. This is also a great way to partake in the local culture of the places you are traveling through and/or to. We kept the cuisine varied, to help offset boredom, and found some tasty and unexpected spots, including Lupita’s for Mexican food in Montana, and Tokyo Sushi in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.
Don’t Totally Wing It
Just because the great unknown may be in front of you, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to somewhat of a plan in place. It’s always a good idea to see where you will most likely be making your pit stops, and research cool spots you’ll want to see and experience throughout the trip. Have at least a loose itinerary for each day, including places to stay, if needed. This will keep things from getting overwhelming, when everyone asks, “where are we going,” or “what are we doing today?”
But Don’t Be Uptight!
While it’s essential to prepare for a trip, it doesn’t mean you have to have every moment scheduled out in advance, either. The beauty of road trips is in the unexpected things you discover. So, while it’s smart to have an ideal itinerary, don’t go to the other extreme and have every second accounted for. It kills the sense of spontaneity, and is unrealistic, given that you have to factor in things like traffic, which is out of your control. Also, remember to have fun, and be courteous! Respect the people in the places you are visiting (don’t be an annoying, inconsiderate tourist), and enjoy this beautiful time, in a different environment, with your family.