Travel tips picture

 

After travelling over 150,000 miles with a family over the past 13 years, we’ve learned a few things about what life is like on the road. It can be difficult travelling with young kids, but we truly believe it is one of the best experiences you can share as a family.

Although we typically travelled in a motorhome and not a car, these are 10 tips that we believe are important, regardless of what wheels you’re driving.

 

1. Be Flexible

This is by far one of the most important things you need to remember. Travelling with a family has its challenges, and even the best plans have a tendency of getting tossed upside down. As a friend once told me, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not get bent out of shape.”

2. Start with a Prayer

Whether we’re travelling for one hour or ten, we always start with the rosary. The best way to start any trip is by asking Mary’s intercession for the drive ahead and the intentions that are on our heart.

3. Eat Healthy

What we put into our bodies really does affect us, and having healthy meals as often as possible will make your trip so much smoother. Pack lots of wholesome snacks, and if you do need to eat fast food, then try and chose places that have options for fresh vegetables and non-processed foods.

4. Memories Make the Best Souvenirs

Family trips can be expensive, but take into account what you are spending your money on. We believe in accumulating experiences rather than possessions. Instead of buying toys or souvenir trinkets, create a memory and do something exciting together such as hiking, go-karting, spray parks, or  visiting a shrine or museum. Experiences never break or go out of style.

5. Play the Question Game

Put away the electronics for a bit and get to know each other better as you drive. How often do you have that many hours just to be together?

We often play “The Question Game” and find that it goes over well with people of all ages. It’s super simple as the first person gets to ask a conversation question and then choose someone to answer it. Once that person answers, then they get to ask the next question. (Ex. "Where would you like to go on your dream vacation?" or "What's your favorite pizza topping?")

6. “I’m Bored” is Not Allowed

Growing up, whether we were at home or in the motorhome, the word “Bored” was considered the “B-word”. As kids, we knew that as soon as we said it, we would get an extra chore. As a result, we learned to always find something to do, even if it was as simple as looking out the window for interesting license plates or reading a book to our younger sibling.

This is definitely something that needs to start at home. It can be hard at first, but you’ll certainly feel the results on long days of driving.

7. Everyone Needs Incentives

Treat the family after a long day of driving. Ice cream anyone?

8. Switch up the Dynamics

Switch seats, change drivers, give kids a chance to navigate… these are all things that change the dynamics of the trip. Sometimes the best thing you can do in the middle of a travel day is to give everyone a new view out of their window. Maybe have mom drive and dad take a turn in the back seat while one of the older kids navigates.

9. Make sure the vehicle is serviced before you leave.

This may sound obvious, but you want to make sure your vehicle is in good driving condition before you leave. You don’t want to break down on the side of the road with a car load of tired kids. It will save you a lot of time and money if car trouble can be avoided.

10. Make the Most of Your Stops

Even if you’re only able to stop for a 15-minute break, try and park somewhere where the kids can run around and be active. Fields or playgrounds are usually easy to find. Have a push up contest, throw a frisbee around, or see how many jumping jacks they can do in a minute. Even though they might be a little slow to get going, it’ll make the next part of the trip a lot less antsy.

Bonus tip: Be honest with your kids

When they ask, “Are we there yet?” don’t just say, “We’re almost there.” when it’s still a few hours away. Being honest with your kids helps them form a proper sense of time and it also helps build trust.

 

These are some of our tips. Please share what you would add to this list. We'd love to hear your ideas.

Since we love incentives, we will choose two of our favorite comments and mail you a free Cat.Chat DVD for your next family road trip! :) (Only for the month of June.)

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  • Keri

    Great suggestions. Thanks, Cat Chat! We purposely didn't buy a van with a screen, so we rely on a variety of music, cat chat cds;), and audio books. We have 8 people in a minivan so we're a little squished for room, but one puppet seems to help little kids laugh. I also bring a journal that we keep in the kitchen that I've written funny things our kids have said growing up through the years. Our oldest is 13 and we have 6 kids, so we have quite a lot of entries. It keeps us entertained and starts many reminiscing based conversations.

  • That's awesome Keri! Puppets are a great idea, and our family also has a little book of things that the kids said when they were little. It's always so fun to look back!
    And yes, Cat.Chat CDs and audio books were a huge thing for us too :D

  • Melissa

    When we travel on longer trips, we set up "device times" and "device-free times". For example, from the top of the hour (1 p.m.) to quarter after (1:15 p.m.), our kids can play on their devices. But as soon as the 1:15 p.m. time hits, all devices are off and we have the next 45 mins to talk, read a book, play a game or just sit while not being hunched over a device!
    We find this makes the often asked question of "can I play on my iPod?" non-existence on our roads trips, which my husband & I both enjoy greatly!
    (When the kids get older, we have started the rule if one child plays past your 15 minutes, that child loses the opportunity to play their device the next time around. This sure gets the kids off their devices quickly when the time comes!)

  • Thanks Melissa! Love this system. It's so practical and great for the kids because they get to learn how to manage and spend their own electronic time. Sounds like a great balance!

  • Gloria Miller

    What wonderful ideas! Can't wait to forward to our young families in preparation for summer holidays! Thank you Cat Chat and the people who have added comments. Safe travels to all.

  • Thanks so much Gloria! Glad we could help :)

  • I have small kids, so knowing which toys will last long for them is essential. For my son, when he was younger, it was cars; now it's Lego. For my girls, they love their ponies, they'll play hours with them.

    Also, good kids tunes, and a wide variety :).

  • Denise T

    We learned that packing an ice cream pail with a lid or a collapsible bowl comes in very handy.

  • Jank Clan

    Love the quote from #1. Thank You. We do fairly well with 1-4; however it isn't 'boredom' for us as much as the vice of reading. #5 is critical also as children age and develop their own interests from older siblings and find own identity and truly change. Another big one as we have been walking with NSCLC in my husband has been letting them "Backpack Up". Packing their own favorite items to keep close to them or to share with siblings. This also involves learning how much to bring for how long. I am very appreciative that they have learned to share books and other items in their packs. Thank you for the reminders and Safe Journey... Remember our final destination is past the narrow gate. Blessings, from the Jank Clan

  • Kelly

    Always have a couple of empty plastic bags in the car, and readily accessible. You never know when you will need one for a sick tummy, trash, or even a diaper! Some stops are so remote, and may not have trash bins. One of our daughters was car sick and we were on a highway without any place to pull off. I will never be without a bag again!

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