Your survival guide to family road-tripping
“Long car journeys can be tiresome for both the driver and the passengers. Finding little ways to enhance your travel can make all the difference in setting the tone for the rest of your trip,” says Dr. Sonali Mehta, a pediatrician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Dr. Mehta offers the following dos and don’ts to surviving – and enjoying – your family road trip. Because, after all, getting there is half the fun.
Do bring snacks for everyone in the car. It is recommended that snacks be kept in individual backpacks to avoid any arguments over who gets what. For little ones, include coloring books, crayons, a few toys and a small “blankie” for comfort. For older kids, include a book, travel journal and some magazines. For tweens and teens, Dr. Mehta recommends co-packing to allow more autonomy. Be sure to not overload the backpacks; however, they should be light enough for each child to be able to carry their own. If using a cooler to keep drinks and other foods cold, place it somewhere easily accessible by everyone.
Do bring chargers for any and all electronic devices (especially for a GPS or your phone). Be sure to include both wall and car chargers. When one kid’s device battery drains, they are more likely to tussle a sibling for theirs. Being prepared can prevent these back-seat battles and provide for a smoother, less stressful drive.
Do use the time to connect with your family. Have sing-alongs, play “I Spy” or the license-plate game. These are just a few of many great ways to engage your children and spend some screen-free time together.
Don’t stuff the car with unnecessary items you more than likely will not need or use (e.g. extra coolers, excessive luggage or one too many toys). Not only is a car filled to its brim uncomfortable for all occupants – especially your squished, now-cranky children – it is also dangerous, says Dr. Mehta. “Packing the car to capacity may obstruct the driver’s rear view window. This can cause an accident that could have been avoided. Additionally, with the car so stuffed, those in the back seat are at an increased risk for injury from falling objects.” Whatever the case may be, it is important to remember: only bring what you are sure you will need.
Don’t forget to eat. Sure, snacks are convenient and a quick fix for small cravings, but they do not substitute for a meal. Dr. Mehta suggests grabbing a bite to eat when making pit stops. “There are usually two or three restaurants at every exit. Stretch, use the restroom and spend some quality time recapping your trip over a warm meal. Your kids will appreciate it, and so will you.”
Happy road tripping!
About the Author
Efua Richardson, health enews contributor, is a senior at Lewis University studying public relations & advertising. In the future, she hopes to work in entertainment, namely in the music industry. In her free time, she enjoys reading, scrolling through Instagram and trying new ethnic dishes. Among her talents is the ability to move her kneecaps in tune to music and wiggle her nose.