Family Road Trip Rules for Wary Travelers

Road TripRoad trip movies offer big laughs, wacky adventures and colorful destinations. Think “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Vacation” and “The Sure Thing.”

Family road trips yield different pleasures. Fights over who will turn out the hotel light switch, smeared food over every square inch of a toddler’s car seat and meltdowns drowning out the radio’s classic rock hits. Is it any wonder most road trip movies leave the kids behind?

The Daddylibrium crew hit the road Thursday for a trip to Des Moines to celebrate our niece’s high school graduation. We’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way so far, but let’s focus on the positives.

Toward that end, here’s a quick rundown of family road trip tips that could make your next trek more fun. Or, at the very least, not something you’ll need to share with your therapist.

  • Beware All Liquids: That sliced peach cup may look yummy, but imagine its sticky contents dumped all over the backseat. Road trips require on-the-go snacks. Make sure you choose wisely when handing them back to your starving toddlers. No liquids if at all possible or items that will be a nightmare to clean up. We found Twizzlers to be a tasty treat that don’t require a massive clean up.
  • Take Your Time: It might make sense to get there as soon as possible, wherever “there” may be. Think again. Take a break. Let your kiddies stretch their legs and have some mid-trip fun outside the car. Your children will be in better shape when you reach your destination, and you will, too. Like everything else in a parent’s life, allow extra time for each step of your journey.
  • Make a Plan B, C and D: That fun park you dreamed about visiting may be closed when you arrive. Or, the road to it could be shut due to an accident or road work. Think ahead. Plan ahead. Your toddlers will be crushed if a plan doesn’t come together, as a certain “A-Team” type would say, but they’ll bounce back if you have a fun alternative ready to roll.
  • Bring Along Your Sleep Aids: Our kids never go to sleep easily even under ideal conditions. So if you have certain sleep rituals you perform at home do the same on the road. Bring that lullaby CD with you or a favorite blankey. Recreate those before-sleep habits in the hotel room. Do whatever is necessary to get your children the proper amount of sleep.

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