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  1. Default What Do You Like to Bring?

    Do any road-trip pro's have advice concerning what to bring to make a road-trip successful so that the family enjoys the car time? I'm especially thinking in terms of a family with kids in the 6-16 range. Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Kid Travel

    Ah, traveling with the kids. I miss those days as mine are now grown. My kids were closer in age so it made it easier to accommodate them.

    When they were younger, we played games, sang songs, and told stories.

    * I'm going to California and I'm bringing....then, in alphabetical order, each person adds an item to the list; and then you have to say each item. I don't think we ever got past about the letter M or P or so. But it's a fun memory exercise. And we got a hoot out of some of the creative things the kids would pack.
    * Finding Letters - finding letters, again in alphabetical order, on signs, license plates, etc.

    Gosh, I know we did more than that but I'm brain-dead. You can buy things like bingo games where you look for various types of roadside signs, etc. to get the square.

    We also would tell stories. Sometimes it would just be me or my husband telling one. We tried to tell a lot of stories about family-stuff, ancestors, etc. so the kids had a sense of family history. But we also had fun making stories up. We would all take turns adding to the story. The kids were always more creative than we were. I also had a silly story called "The Boy, the Girl, and the Mountainclimber (who was a dog). This went on for years of roadtrips. I just made up things as I went along and tried to incorporate things that my kids (a boy and a girl) actually had done into it. For some reason, they really enjoyed this but my brain got tired trying to think up new things.

    I'm opposed to video games, DVD players, etc. in the car. I just don't think kids learn to entertain themselves when they have something like that. However, once the kids got older, we did allow a bit of video-gaming, just not for hours on end.

    We also would listen to tapes. When the kids were little, we had story and song tapes geared toward their age. As they got older, we would get books-on-tape that the whole family would enjoy. We didn't listen to these for hours on end but it was nice when everybody needed a bit more quiet time.

    I'm also big on history, geology, and things like that. So, before visiting some place, I would try to tell everybody any information I had on those issues before we went somewhere. Or, if I picked up some brochures or something while visiting a place, I would share that information afterwards. Now, at the time, my kids would squirm sometimes when doing this. But, now that they're grown, they have told me several times how much they appreciate that because they have a breadth and depth of knowledge about historical and geological events that their friends don't seem to have, and they appreciate having that knowledge.

    Hope this helps a bit!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Get Ready, Get Set & Go!

    Quote Originally Posted by katiek3 View Post
    Do any road-trip pro's have advice concerning what to bring to make a road-trip successful so that the family enjoys the car time?
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! I generally recommend that families preparing to go on a road trip use the Get Ready, Get Set, Go! planning program. Here is a brief look at the salient points of the program:


    1. Hold a family planning session, with a big map and plenty of highlighter markers, and talk about all of the cool places that would appeal to all members of the trip. Also, and equally important, is a discussion about the scale and scope of the traveling day – how long in the saddle and how much time will be spent doing fun stuff. On RTA we refer to this as “determining the road trip profile”. With a family dynamic, the parents will have more sway than a five-year-old child but the practice of including everyone in the decision making process is critical to making a fun adventure to all.

    2. One technique that works well is to “assign” a day or a part of day to one child and have that child plan the activities and the stops for the rest of the family.

    3. I recommend that the parents have a clipboard with the printed directions of where they will be staying overnight – in case they reach the city after dark.

    4. Ensure that the vehicle is ready to go and has been checked the basis mechanical conditions. Of special importance is a check of the tires, coolant and engine oil.

    5. Ensure that everyone gets an extra hour or more of sleep the night before embarking on the adventure.


    6. Pack a “Go Kit”.
    Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MRE). Battery Boost Kit (not jumper cables), Power Tank (CO2 size of wine bottle) First Aid Kit, Candle, Chains, Warm Clothes, Mittons, Tea Towels, plastic containers and labeled as “Sanitary Supplies,” “Food,” “Safety Supplies,” “Automotive Tools,” etc., to make them easy to find in a hurry. Bottles of water, fire extinguisher, beach towel, personal pillow, Maps and atlases. More suggestions can be found here The essential tools would be the following:
    · an X-shaped tire iron
    · a supply of bottled water
    · a fire extinguisher, and
    · a folding triangle reflector.,

    7. Electronic devices: CB Radio, Portable DVD, Rental GPS, Audio Books & Inverters

    I have never been a fan of the use of portable DVD’s on family road trips, but a limited use of such entertainment devices can be helpful if and when the family vehicle is stuck in a traffic jam. Audio books are a great way to be entertained and still alert and focused on the tasks of driving – Full-scale theatrical products versus reading the words on a page. Many companies now offer rental GPS units and they are both a useful tool and a source of road conditions Portable CB radios and a magnetic mount enabled accurate weather reports and staying in touch with other drivers on the road.


    8. Snacks on the Road
    Make sure that everyone drinks twice as much water on a road trip as they might at home. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We have several tips and recipes for road trip snacks in the RTA Road Food department. Our favorite snack is the road trip enchilada. Take a whole grain tortilla and spread it with reduced fat cream cheese. Sprinkle the cream cheese with nuts and dried fruit (dried pineapple bits are a favorite), and then roll it up like an enchilada.

    9. Cooler – keep cooler colder than 40 degrees – here is an article that discusses both safety and design features of modern coolers.

    10. Take frequent breaks from traveling – Get everyone to do the “Chicken Dance” at the rest stops. (Ya know -- that silly dance everyone has to do at least once a wedding receptions -- it is fun to do and puts a grin on everyone who sees it).

    11. Practice Safe Driving. Here are our top five tips:
    a) Let the other guy merge – give extra room for trucks – Yield Anyway – Doesn’t matter who is right – Just who gets home to Grandma’s
    b) Look down the road 15-20 seconds ( most drivers focus about 8 seconds ahead of them)
    c) Use the Two-seconds rule – choose a point and count off the seconds to create space (not car lengths)
    d) Drive like a fighter pilot – check all mirrors – stay focused on the driving tasks
    e) Use the "tortoise" style of driving! Pick a lane, and stay in it. – less chance for fender benders

    12. Most Important: Adopt some “Family Rules of the Road” Here would be my top five for this list:

    a) Make it fun for the kids, no matter what. Try and remember that road trips become part of the family lore and strive for pace that will be recalled fondly as being relaxed and whimsical, not overly ambitious and full of stress.

    b) Leave in the element of chance. Take the unexpected exit and make it a true adventure, not a script from a Disneyland thrill ride.

    c) Eat in unusual, non-chain restaurants when possible.

    d) Make a point of meeting other travelers – talk about the family adventures and share tips and ideas.

    e) Create the Space – children sometimes are not as fond of the concept of long road trips as their parents – Exercise patience. Drive fewer hours, spend more time lounging in the motel pool. Create the space and the time – don’t live at the same hectic pace as one lives at home.

    A good start on your own plan....

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-25-2007 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Added the link to our GPS article

  4. Default Thanks!

    Thanks for the tips; I'll be sure to keep those in mind. Happy trails to you :)

  5. #5

    Default Satellite Radio

    I wouldn't even think of doing a road trip (especially a solo one) without my satellite radio. I like talk radio, and it has kept me company on countless road trips across three countries.

  6. Default And now, a word from an alternative reality

    Funny I read about this today, we just got back from a road trip from Orlando FL, all the way to Olean NY........and let me tell you....all these tips should be also attached to AGE of the child.

    Last year we did the same trip with then my daughter at 20 months and my son at 6 months...and we were all good.

    THIS YEAR: My daughter was 2 1/2 and my son 16 1/2 months...................let me tell was a road trip from HELL!

    We had toys, snacks, drinks, more toys, DVD player and about 45 movies for kids, 99% Disney.....and yet the road there and back has been a nightmare.

    I don't even know where to start: we left here at 4:30am, (a little early as it turned out) and we had the trip spit exactly in 2 at 9 hours and 40 minutes, 10 hours with stops. The whole way to Winston-Salem which was half way, my son did not quit screaming...................NOTHING and I mean NOTHING would keep him calm....we got to the hotel at around 3PM, they fought sleeping like crazy, but finally after about 45 minutes, they fell asleep, none of them slept at all since we left at that point....we were also very tired......needless to say we needed some sleep.....................
    We slept for about 40 minutes on and off, we were all up again by 8pm and since then went back and forth as to what to do.....we couldn't go anywhere in that town because we didn't know our way around and that was not the purpose for us being there to begin with.....we tried to play for a while, but my son again, had big issues coping with being outside of his comfy environment at 11PM we decided that none of us will get any sleep, and if anything, we would have probably gotten kicked out of the hotel because the kids were, we left...........we left for the rest of our trip to NY, we drove overnight, which again, none of the kids slept at all again! I was trying to keep my husband awake for the drive.....then try as much as it is humangly possible to keep the kids quiet....which was not very succesfull, then, my husband needed to rest, and as soon as we son started screaming his head of again! so, then my husband was awake again!!!LOLOL you try and picture that..............................instead of sleeping, got a scream and was up again! all this time we are driving through the Mountaneer Expressway with the overnight truckers! roaming around!

    We got at our destination at 12 Pm the next day.........................lost about 2-3 hours overnight because we drove a lot slower through all those mountains................missed the scenery and all......

    In our way back.....same thing! my son fell asleep for the first 2 hours of the trip....then woke up and was miserable again! the good part about coming back....was that we left there at around 9:40am or so, and didn't get to Winston Salem until 8PM.....which was GREAT, because as soon as we hit that hotel room, my kids went right to sleep.....again, my daughter napped on our way back about 40 minutes total, out of 10 hours!!!!
    Let me not forget that as soon as we hit Florida in our way back, it poured the whole way to Orlando, in Jacksonville it was a huge thunderstorm, the skyes were black and you couldn't see 2 feet in front of the car.........and at that point, when I am trying to concentrate on the road, I hear My daughter go: "Look at David?", pointing to husband was driving and he looks back for a second and so did I, and guess what: My dear son, wiggeled himself OUT of the 5 point harnass and he is standing straight up in his car seat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, picture me flying in the back seat in less than 2 seconds to put him back in his chair....which didn't came as an easy task......he arched his back and fought me to the end!


    My point:
    1. If you go on a road trip with children under the age of 5...........make sure you get to the hotel late at night, 8pm and after.....that way, they are tired and ready to crash, leaving you to be able to unwind too.......and sleep.
    2. No toys will ever compensate if your child hates the car seat, or hates being in the car to begin with. Find the best one comfort wise, even is it extra $$$............and hope for the best!
    3. Don't serve peanut butter crackers, unless you want the car seat to turn into a punishment bin! Otherwise known as trash! it irritates and if you have to wait 25 miles ti'll the nest rest're in deep trouble.....
    4. Don't assume that if you already had a succesfull trip a year ago..........the experience will repeat itself........Not in your gets worst.....
    5. If travelling with toddlers for longer than 200 prepared to stop a lot more times, than when travelling with babies under one year.
    6. BRIBE doesn't work at 16 months.

    These are just a few other things people should know about.....


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Trippin' with travelers under Five years old

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadTripper Alexandra View Post
    These are just a few other things people should know about.....
    Thanks for the concrete ideas and welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!


  8. Default

    My kids are 10 and 13 now, but they've been driving long distances since they were infants -- they're excellent little travelers! My hints:

    Anatomy of a perfect McDonald's stop with young children: After everyone uses the restroom, one parent takes the kids straight out to the playground for some much-needed running around time. The other goes to the counter and buys food for the adults only (of course, you look like the world's biggest jerks when you don't buy food for the kids). The adults sit down to enjoy their meal while the kids have uninterrupted playtime. When it's time to leave, order the kids' food to go, and they eat in the car. Maximizing playtime matters more to them than WHERE they eat.

    Don't over-do the toys and games. Kids need the opportunity to learn to entertain themselves; packing too much makes the car into a huge mess, and it teaches the kids to look to you for entertainment. My girls have been packing their own "fun bags" for quite some time now. They're each allowed one backpack, which they must be able to carry unassisted. They put a great deal of effort into what they're taking. For a long trip, I'd probably buy them each a new game for the Gameboy and at least one new novel.

    Books on tape are a great thing for the family to enjoy together! Choose carefully though -- a perfect tape would be just a little "stretch" for the youngest child. We love to check them out of the library, which is FREE!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Clever!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum, Mrs. Pete!

    I love the McDonalds Play-Area, Food to Go Idea. Lord knows it can be difficult to get kids to focus on food when there are toys and playground around.

    I'm also a big fan of just finding a park with a playground in any random city and having a picnic. Its allows good runing around time while food from the cooler is being preped.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Chicago Suburbs, IL


    When I was little and we went on road trips my brother and I LOVED car bingo. It was this little board with different items (EX: horse, train, etc...) and you would mark them off as you saw them until someone got bingo. We could play this for hours on end and it was super small and fit easily in the pockets behind the front seats.

    On a recent road trip with five adults stuck in a car for 14hrs we played "I spy" using 20 questions and even the adults loved it. It definitely made things much more pleasant in the car.

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