Summer is a time when families of all ages and sizes head out on the open road for a warm weather adventure.
Their destination might be the beach, the big city, or maybe just Grandma's house, but before they get wherever they are going, they have to survive the road trip.
While road trips can be fun, entertaining, and educational, they can also be grueling for both parents and children. Parents are on a schedule to get to the destination, however long it takes, and kids are not good at waiting and entertaining themselves.
Patience is just not a virtue most children have, and by the end of a long trip it can be in short supply for parents too.
With that in mind, here are five tips to help families survive a road trip.
1. Plan ahead.
Not everyone has weeks to prepare for a trip, but a lot can be done in even a day or two and can make all the difference on the trip. Make sure the kids' favorite t-shirts (or dresses, jeans, whatever) are washed and ready to go.
Shop for favorite snacks and treats and make sure to have car-friendly, age-appropriate toys and books. Buy new batteries and charge up the iPad, portable DVD player, or other electronic device. They will come in handy.
And don't forget to make sure the car is properly checked and maintained. AAA estimates 7.9 million motorists will get stranded this summer and their road trip may end before it begins.
Remember the old adage, "those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail."
2. Get the kids excited about the trip beforehand.
Parents should tell them about the destination and all the fun they will have when they get there. Make it seem like its worth the hours in the car.
Older kids can pick it out on a map and look up places to stop along the way. Younger ones can get an introduction to geography.
Prepare children for the length of the trip. Will it be as long as two movies? Or two days?
3. Pack their favorite foods.
Road trips are not the time to force-feed broccoli to children. However, they do not have to eat chocolate all day (and that gets messy anyway).