This holiday season many of us will travel to visit family and friends. Why not make your time on the road as merry and stress-free as possible? Here are some road trip tips for a festive and safe journey!
Keep kids happy with festive games.
With our busy schedules and obsession with electronics, it can be hard to find quality time to spend together as a family. Rather than dreading the drive, look at it as an opportunity to have fun together during the holiday season. Even the driver can get in on the fun with some old school games. For example, play 20 questions using holiday characters or I Spy, using holiday decorations.
Map out your route before leaving home.
Don't try to cover more ground than is reasonable in one day. Factor in delays for inclement weather and heavier holiday traffic. According to a recent Autotrader poll, nearly a quarter of families will travel almost 100 miles in their cars. If you’re embarking on a holiday road trip, it’s a good idea to pad your schedule with extra time to account for the extra cars on the roads.
Make a holiday road trip kit for the kids.
For a little extra cheer, wrap up a bag of travel toys and crafts for children to unwrap as an early holiday gift. Include a pack of crayons and a coloring book or two. National Geographic Kids Road Trip Atlas makes a great choice for road trip fun with its maps, games, and activities. Children and teens would love taking photos during the drive with a camera that creates instant printed photos. Add some headphones for kids who want to listen to their own tunes in the backseat.
Pack plenty of healthy snacks and a few holiday treats.
Food can be an excellent diversion for kids during road trips. To save money and time, consider packing your own meals for the road. Bring all sorts of healthy snacks in separate containers and dole them out slowly. Suggested snacks include whole grain crackers and cereals, sliced fresh fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, cubed or string cheese, trail mix, yogurt tubes, and sandwiches. Pack perishable items in a cooler and keep it within arm’s reach. Bring along some treats like candy canes, or holiday cookies to give for good behavior as well.
When traveling with children, keep in mind that you may need to stop more for potty breaks and playtime than expected. Taking a break from driving helps to avoid tunnel-vision and tired driving, too. Stop by a park if the weather allows, or make time for a visit to some type of indoor entertainment venue. Google Christmas themed roadside attractions that would be worth a stop.
Play a holiday road trip soundtrack.
Get in the holiday spirit with some old fashioned family sing-a-longs to Christmas music. When your elves turn into trolls from too much caroling, switch to a book on tape. The trip goes faster when listening to a good book downloaded to a smart device. For your holiday road trip, choose something festive like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever or The Polar Express.
Let kids earn money to spend at rest stops.
A little incentive during your holiday road trip won’t hurt. At the start of the journey, assign different points or dollar values for good behavior. The Silent Game works wonders when there is a cash reward for the kid who can be quiet the longest! Other rewardable tasks include making Christmas gifts for others, not fighting with siblings for an specific time period, or taking a nap.
Bend technology rules.
If ever you were going to bend some technology rules, let it be on long travel days. Let them get into the spirit of the winter holidays with such movies as Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer or Frozen. Older kids and teens will enjoy films like Elf, and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Prepare your car for your holiday road trip.
Make sure your car or van is up-to-date on oil changes and any needed maintenance. Also, put blankets, booster cables, flares, a flashlight, hand warmers and a window scraper in your car. For mountain treks, you may need tire chains or four-wheel-drive to make it up and down slippery hills safely. After all, the primary goal of any holiday road trip is to arrive safe and sound.
Travel at night.
If you can safely manage it, you may experience considerably less traffic in the evening hours than during other times of day. In addition, the kids may sleep much of the way, helping to reduce the number of times they ask, “Are we there yet?” Share driving responsibilities with another person so that each driver can take a break to prevent drowsy driving.
Planning and preparation are essential to safe travel this holiday season!