Five Tips for Making a Road Trip Enjoyable for the Entire Family
Summer is a time for road trips. Families often travel to vacation destinations such a the beach or to visit out of town relatives by car. The thought of traveling in a car for a long period of time with children causes anxiety in many adults. Families with a special needs child require additional pre-planning to ensure a successful family vacation. With good planning it is not only possible to survive a lengthy car trip but even enjoy it. Here are five tips for making family travel enjoyable.
1. Prepare Your Children
If possible, explain to your children the length of the upcoming car ride in terms they can understand. For example say "We will leave at breakfast time and arrive at dinner." Consider finding books or videos that show characters going on a road trip to demonstrate what it will be like. In addition use photo albums, vacation brochures, and maps to help your children understand where you are going and who or what will be seen when you arrive. This will reduce anxiety and help get the kids excited about the trip.
2. Plan for Food
If you child has special dietary restrictions consider bringing the food they will need for the entire trip with you. This will prevent a struggle to find special foods during the trip. Another option is to locate specialized grocery stores along the route or at the final destination so you know before you leave that you will find appropriate food during the trip.
3. Take your Time
Don't count on making it to your destination in record time. Keep in mind that you will need to make regular stops for bathroom breaks and exercise. Consider setting a pre-determined amount of time that you will drive before stopping. Ninety minutes or 2 hours is usually manageable. It will slow down your trip but will help keep your kids calm for the duration of the trip. Another suggestion is to split a long trip over 2 days. Instead of driving 10 hours in one day, consider looking for a fun place to stop about half way through the trip. Seek out a museum or other entertainment at the halfway point that can aid in breaking up the trip.
4. Consider a Practice Run
Before taking a 10 hour trip, consider visiting a location 3 hours away as a practice run. This will allow your children to learn what to expect while traveling. It will also give you an opportunity to see which things worked well and which didn't so you can adjust for the longer trip.
5. Pack Items Appropriate For Your Child
If your child tends to easily become overstimulated pack items that will provide as little sensory input a possible on the road. Consider limiting the music playing, conversation, or noisemaking toys to prevent overstimulation. Bring one special toy that provides comfort. For a child that becomes under-stimulated plan on bringing music, books, toys and movies. Look for games that involve reading road signs
Many families find it helpful to bring a few new toys or toys the kids haven't seen in awhile to provide entertainment on a long car trip. If this is something that would be beneficial for your kids keep in mind that you will have to make a trip home as well. Save a few new items for the return trip.
For further information about family travel for all types of families, including those with special needs, contact us. We believe all families should be able to successfully experience the fun of travel!
From Parents, Travel Writers,