Traveling with the family on a car trip does not have to be cause for anxiety. Here are a few tips to make it less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone:
Be prepared. Do everything that needs to be done before you put your kids in the car; get gas, load the luggage and make a boredom bag. A boredom bag is a travel, hanging cosmetic case that hangs from the seatback in fron of your child. Each pocket is filled with age appropriate activities like books on tape, hand held electronic games and self contained craft kits.
Make technology your travel buddy.
Visit the websites of the destinations you are planning to visit to learn about family friendly special events and activities. Use GPS systems to make sure you stay on course. Although I am not an advocate for portable DVD players in the car when driving around town, I do support using them on long road trips.
Consider renting the perfect vehicle.
According to AAA, almost 90 percent of holiday travelers will hit the open road. And Enterprise Rent-A-Car has seen a double-digit increase in advance reservations for the holiday season. For most families, rental cars are newer, better maintained, and provide the reliability when heading away from home. Renting also allows you to save wear and tear on your own vehicle, and you have the chance to pick the perfect vehicle for your getaway -- a larger car to accommodate the family and packages, or a fuel-efficient car to save on gas.
Pack the right stuff.
Make sure you have a family first aid kit in the car. Also toss in some stress relievers like footballs or jump ropes that the kids can play with at a rest stop or park. Bring drinks that have resealable tops versus juice boxes because as soon as you puncture the box, all of the liquid will make a sticky mess unless the child drinks every drop of juice.
Many times parents get the big idea to hit the road at the crack of dawn. They think that their kids will sleep most of the way and it will be a simple ride. However, once they are up and their routine is disrupted, the trip begins in chaos. Accidents happen when people are tired. Mom and Dad bicker when they are fatigued. Make good choices about the timing of your drive.
Enjoy the journey.
As someone at a crossroad in my life, where one child is in college and the other is almost out the door, I encourage people to enjoy your time together. Make the road trip a part of your vacation experience, not just a way to get to the destination.