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When we were kids, we didn’t fly off to exotic locations for vacations– we piled in the family car and drove (or at least my father did).  When our kids were younger, we planned a relatively last minute vacation to Disney World (before My Vacation Lady existed) and since it was over Christmas break, and airfare was insanely expensive, we packed up the kids in the back of the station wagon and drove down to Florida.  Our kids were 3 and 6 at the time and in order to keep them occupied (this was in the era before electronic devices and Ipads), we put a big box of toys in between them.  It served 2 purposes:

  1. They couldn’t see each other and therefore they would fight less
  2. They could reach into the box and pull out different toys and games to keep themselves busy.

Well times have changed and we haven’t driven down to Florida since then, but many of our clients will hit the roads this summer with their families in the back of the SUV to take a vacation or weekend getaway.

Here are some modern day tips for making a smooth driving adventure:

  1. Have an itinerary but be open to making some changes.  Having set plans is great but kids can be unpredictable so leave a little wiggle room in the itinerary.  If you see a sign along the way for a scenic stop or a park or something that looks like it may be fun, take the detour!
  2. Stop often– Not only for potty breaks but at a playground or a park so the kids can kick around a soccer ball or climb the monkey bars.  They’ll need to burn off some energy from sitting in a car too long.
  3. Pack only what you’ll need- Many of the hotels may provide some of the things that you’ll need (like cribs, hair dryers, iron and ironing boards, etc) so you have less to lug around.  If you are visiting an amusement park, inquire in advance about stroller rentals so that you can leave that home too.  Check the anticipated weather so that you don’t need to bring clothes that you’ll never wear.  All of the room you’ll save by this advance research will help leave room in the car for fun stuff to bring home from your trip.
  4. Things you should bring to keep the kids fed
    • Pack snacks that are healthy and have protein- so you’ll feel full longer.  Cheese sticks, nuts and granola bars are good choices.
    • Pack fruit and vegetables that don’t get mushy (like apples or carrots).
    • Pack bottles of water and juice boxes that won’t spoil if the ice melts in the cooler.
    • Bring snack bags filled with pretzels, popcorn, and cereals for easy nibbling.
  5. Things to bring to keep the kids occupied- so much has changed since our last really long road trip— the electronic age!
    • Consider buying each child a set of headsets so that they can listen to their own audio books or watch a movie without disturbing the rest of you.
    • Bring car chargers or the power cord and a car USB adapter to keep those tablets and smart phones charged up.
    • Pack activity books, coloring books, and travel magnetic games to keep them occupied.

Family vacations are ones that can really create lifelong memories but pack the wrong things or plan the wrong itinerary and you can have a mutiny on your hands.