It’s Spring Break time and last year my family hit the road for an educational and fun trip down to Washington D.C. and came up with some road trip travel tips that made our trip easier and fun! My girls love learning and exploring new places, and they loved our trip down to D.C.! My husband is a bit of a nerd so he loved sharing his knowledge with our girls along the way.
We live about 7 hours from Washington D.C. so it was quite the road trip. The girls didn’t mind being in the car that long because we try to make it fun, but it’s still a long day there and then back. I try to be as prepared as I possibly before we head out on a long trip but of course, it’s never perfect. Here is what works for me!
Five Spring Break Road Trip Travel Tips
Map Out Your Trip Beforehand
If you know exactly what you plan is, then it’ll be easier to stick to a time schedule. We wanted to get there as soon as possible so we could spend more time exploring what Washington D.C. had to offer. By mapping out our trip ahead of time, we could plan on where we would stop to keep on schedule. Of course if you aren’t trying to get to your final destination quickly, allow room for impromptu stops along the road!
While paper maps are still great, I highly recommend using a GPS especially if you want to explore along the way. Our favorite is the Garmin. It’s the only brand we’ve ever used!
Pack Light & The Night Before
If you are traveling by car, then you probably only have limited space to pack your luggage. Try not to take anything you don’t think you’ll use. If you have to question it, then you probably don’t need it! Pick up travel size items so they take up less space and you can toss them at the hotel before you leave. (This will also leave you room for anything you might purchase while on vacation!). Check with the hotel beforehand to see if they have hairdryer and an iron so you can leave those bulky items behind. (Not that I iron on vacation!).
I have a travel bag with travel toothbrushes, small hair brushes, and travel size items that I refill at home, sample packs I receive in the mail and items like that always ready to go! I also make the kids (and my husband!) pick out one pair of shoes they can wear all week and that’s all we take. Shoes take up too much room!
Pack up the car as much as you can the night before so you can avoid the chaos in the morning and you’ll be less likely to forget something!
Bring Car-Friendly Snacks for the Ride
When we have to travel more than a few hours, we like to pack snacks so we can make as few stops as possible. We’d rather get to our final destination quicker, unless stopping along the way is part of the plan. I like to pack the kids some yummy Cookies to help pass the time, and some nutritious snacks too! Apples and Bananas are perfect for eating in the car and so are snack packs of crackers and cookies.
But don’t forget about snacks for mom and dad! I could sit and eat an entire box of cookies while riding in the car, but then I feel awful afterwards because of the guilt of eating non-nutritious food! But I have a huge sweet tooth! To curb my sweet tooth, I like to take some sweets that are a better choice for me including Brownie Bliss from Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods. The Salted Caramel Brownie Bliss are only 90 calories and are covered in a chocolaty coating with real caramel inside! It’s the real thing, only portioned off so I don’t eat too much and regret it later. And the best part is they are only 2 points plus if you are following the Weight Watchers program! These are a perfect snack with a cup of coffee in the middle of the afternoon (or even in the morning!). Because they are small and individually wrapped, the are perfect to toss in my purse for the car ride!
Keep Hydrated and Make Frequent Stops
Make sure you pack water to keep hydrated while driving, especially for long trips! While you may not want to make a lot of “potty breaks”, it’s important not to start off your vacation on the wrong foot by getting dehydrated on the car ride there! You’ll just end up being more tired in the end and you won’t enjoy your vacation as much.
Plan for a few pit stops and make sure everyone goes when you stop. It’ll be good for the kids to get out of the car to stretch and move around. It’ll keep them more energized and focused for the rest of the car ride. And it’ll break up the trip for all of you and make it seem not so long. I like to have the kids look for landmark signs so they know when we are going to stop!
Pack a Backpack of Fun for the Kids
No matter how good your children are, they will need something to occupy them during the ride. One of my daughters gets car sick if she reads too much so she’ll take something to settle her stomach. Otherwise she’ll be miserable all the way there! Besides books, pack a backpack of activities for the kids to do to pass the time.
Pack things like coloring books or activity books along with crayons and pencils. (I don’t recommend taking markers so that the car doesn’t end of being their palette! ) A car friendly card game could also be fun!
Or make up a new game. Since we drove through several states, I had a list of all 50 states for them to look for license plates. They checked them off as they saw them and had so much fun looking for them. We saw a plate for almost every state in our 7 hour drive, and in Washington D.C. You could also do this with landmarks as well!
Do you have any other tips?