The thought of a family road trip can be enough to put fear & dread in the hearts of parents alike. Fear not!! Being prepared as much as possible will keep you sane. Being prepared for the unexpected isn’t a bad idea either!! As the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men…” things can quickly get out of your control. Keeping a positive attitude is SO important. The inspiration for this post comes from Michelle Myers from Sunshine & Hurricanes.

A Family Trip is NOT a Vacation

First of all, you are going on a family trip NOT a vacation. The two are mutually exclusive. Sipping drinks by the pool, spa treatments and other types of pampering only happen on a vacation. Besides, you may need a vacation after the family trip!!! I know I felt like that quite often. See it as an investment in strengthening family bonds. Years from now, your children will share funny anecdotes from past trips. Remember that you’re helping to create memories that your children will appreciate only when they are having children!!!

Be Prepared

The children live from one meal to the next or so it seems. Start the day with a good breakfast. Have healthy snacks on hand that they enjoy in the van while traveling. You may be tempted to push through to make up time but it’s a recipe for creating uber cranky children!! Do lunch somewhere, preferably not in the vehicle. Find a nice picnic table by a roadside stop. Usually, there are bathrooms close by. Let the children run around a bit to release pent-up energy.

Too Much Togetherness is Just…well, Too Much

Piling everyone into a tent or hotel room may not be creating those warm fuzzy moments of jolly family time. Bring along a couple of extra tents where the older children/teens can sleep would be preferable. Check out vacation rental properties, too. They often have a better rate than hotel rooms. The plus side is having an extra bathroom or two and more than one bedroom.

Schedule in Downtime

You would like to schedule every possible sightseeing adventure and interesting spot especially if it’s a once in a lifetime trip. Rethink doing this!! Missing naps in the afternoon or going pedal to the metal for the whole day won’t be pleasant for anyone. Consider alternating days of sightseeing with days of just kicking back by the pool or taking short walks in the near vicinity. Ask your children what they would like to see or do, also. Getting their input means they’ll be more engaged in a good way.

Despite what Disney tries to tell us, all trips as a Family will not be “Magical”

Don’t let those TV commercials showing happy children with exuberant parents having wonderful vacations affect you. Having unrealistic expectations will certainly ruin everyone’s potential to rejuvenate and create true lasting memories as a family. Be honest and ready to deal with some tough moments with a sporting attitude. It’s not all doom and gloom. Don’t forget, it’s those crazy moments that everyone will talk about years later with embellishment and not remember the strong emotional response of the moment.


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