Your Best Steps to Becoming a Road Trip Warrior This Summer

Summer is here.

Road Trip Tips for Parents

Summer is here.

It is that time when we take it down a notch and shift gears. It is also the time we will most likely pack our sunglasses and favorite snacks to go for a ride so wild because the open roads tempt us a lot.

Yes I am talking summer road trips.

Who doesn’t like to take a break from their hectic schedule and do something totally different? Like backpacking to South America or mountain climbing in Swiss Alps? Well, yeah those may sound as overkill because if you are planning summer travel as a family with little kids involved, know that backpacking and mountain climbing are totally not happening. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news! 

Jokes apart, in this post I aim to make your summer road trips as smooth as possible with some helpful tips that  may come handy while you get on the road this year.

Choosing Perfect Summer Destinations

Travel destination advertising these days get into our face so quick since they can access us through all channels seamlessly-television, print and social media. All craving for our attention, this makes it hard to decide on a location you would like to travel to. But on a closer look, asking some questions to yourself can sorta help to select the destination of your choice without much confusion. 

Some questions you may want to ask:

  • Why do you want to travel?
  • What do you try to accomplish from travelling as a family?
  • Is it to make memories or add to your material possessions?

Like that photograph you want to take so badly on Rocky Mountains in BC and post it on social media? May be you want to spend quality time with your family building strong relationships for the years to come?

Whatever your reasons are, answering these questions will surely shed some light on where to pack your bags this year. Its important each member of your family should enjoy the trip and gain wonderful experiences from it. Finding that balance between adults and kids is imperative. 

If you live in Southern Ontario, like me, I have a few suggestions for short term getaways this summer. Perfect for families with little kids!

  • Niagara Falls (Need I say more?)
  • Great Wolf Lodge - My family and I recently visited this place and I can honestly say we took one of our best vacations at the lodge! The ultimate summer fun destination for families, read my full review of Great Wolf Lodge and make up your mind to stop by. 
  • Horseshoe Resort - Perfect for all seasons, this is a place to go not just in summer but all types of weather. Tons of activities for kids to do, time is never enough to enjoy them all. 
  • Stratford - Yup! This quaint little town is so much more than its popular theaters. If you and your family love history, this is definitely a place to visit. While you are at it, do some shopping and have a picnic at the riverside. Perfect!
  • Discovery Harbor and Huronia Beach, Midland - We road tripped here three years ago and it was great!  Lots of history at the harbor and spent an amazing time at the beach. Read our experiences and figure out if this is something your family will enjoy. 

Toronto Sun has an amazing resource on top road trips in Southern Ontario. Worth checking it out! And here's a few more destinations within hours of Toronto.

Moving on, now that you have decided the destination for your next road adventure, it is crucial to keep your car in top shape because, hey! There is some serious travelling coming up shortly.


Getting your Car Ready for the Road Trip

Your car is the main ingredient to that perfect road trip you are planning. Having car trouble while on the road can put a grinding halt to all those careful preparations you made in the first place. We don’t want that to happen, do we?  So here comes a checklist to help you keep away from the problems you might face with your car. 

  • Check your tires - one of the most common vehicle component failure that can be easily avoided if you do maintenance before your trip. Inflate them properly or replace them if you need to. 
  • Air conditioning- Make sure it is in working order. We want that cool air to keep coming in the hot summer day you are travelling.
  • Give a once over to your transmission and exhaust system - Failure in these departments can cost you time and money to get fixed. Not an ideal way to spend your vacation, agree?
  • See well - Huh? Well, since a road trip is all about sight-seeing, make sure your windshield wipers are working well. Special attention goes to headlamps because they lose their brightness gradually right under your nose and you will not realize it. The norm is to change it at least twice a year.
  • Last but not the least… Don’t forget to fill up your gas tank!

I came across this post from Wikihow on how to check your car before road trip in 8 steps. You may find this interesting. 

Now, there is this post on my blog from last year on how to hack your car into family friendliness. Pretty useful for our topic at hand. Your car must be able to withstand the tornado that is travel with toddlers, tweens, and teens. There are some simple and special ways you can make your vehicle the ultimate in family friendly — and you can accomplish most of them for cheap in any car you own. If you are looking to make family travel even slightly more bearable, read on for some handy hacks for the family car.

Next up, is how to make sure your kids are not bored as a long road trip and an open road is stretched out before you. Well, there are ways to keep them engaged. Let’s start with first things first!

Making Road Trips Fun for Kids

“Are we there yet?”

I am sure we all have heard this question at some point on our road trips. The dreaded phrase, most annoying ever, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.  If planned right, as parents, we can keep our kids occupied and playful for the length of our trip. While getting there is half the fun, the other half comes from preparing for the vacation. Only if you be a sport about it, that is. 

​How do you prepare to ensure maximum road trip fun for the kids? Here are a few ideas:

  • While you pack - Make sure to throw in your toddler’s favorite toy or blanket in a separate bag if your trip involves overnight stay. Kids usually like their own stuff specially if they are sleeping at an unfamiliar place. It will be easier to just get the bag than to sift through the entire suitcase at your stopover.
  • Snacking - Eating is something they get “to do” while travelling. It serves two purposes- to soothe their hunger of course and also to kill the boredom of sitting down at a closed space for an extended period of time. Pack some veggies that does not rot or discolor easily (definitely no bananas please) and are easy to handle and distribute in the car. Dried fruits work as well as cereal bars. Be liberal about their binging as it helps them to be upbeat and calm during the duration of the trip. But too much sugar may backfire as well so really you will be walking a fine line here  Be smart! 

These Jelly Linzer Sandwiches I made last year for our road trip was an instant hit. Everyone loved it! And here's 6 healthy portable snacks perfect for on-the-go.

Entertainment on the road

Yup! There are a ton of ways you can entertain your kids on the road. Beating the boredom is easy once you load up your kids’ favorite songs into their ipods. Don't forget to load up on some awesome tunes that are both kid-friendly and good for your sanity. Bring a portable DVD player preferably with some DVD’s they have never seen before. It will help and buy you some time in critical moments. 

This post I wrote last year shares additional information on how to make the trip enjoyable for everyone. 

Also: Stop Often. Yes, don’t forget! I know you want to get there, we all do. But it is important for your kids to blow off some steam and keep their calm. So getting out often and doing stretches are beneficial. Not to mention, bathroom breaks always keep things under control. 

So, there you have it folks. Hope these tips I shared with you today will make those perfect summer road trips happen to your family.

In summary, its possible to go on a great adventure on the road with kids and have the time of your life! All you need is careful planning. So load up your car with essentials, yourself and your kids and crank up the music. The open road awaits you with abandon..

I am going to leave you all with this quote I found elsewhere online.

“Happiness is…looking out the passenger seat window on a long car drive…”


Previously published at Mom Less Mom.




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