PLANNING SUMMER ROAD TRIPS WITH KIDS

By Colleen Lanin, Travel Mamas
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Summer road trips with kids can be a fabulous way to build lifelong memories and have a whole lot of fun, but they're also ripe with chances for family drama. Before you became a parent, you may have powered through cross-country road trips fueled by caffeine, corn curls and minimal pit stops, but a family road trip requires preparation and patience.

According to the Liberty Mutual New Beginnings Report, 56% of Americans are planning a long car trip between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year. If a family road trip is on your to-do list this summer, follow this road trip advice to keep the stress to a minimum and the positivity to a maximum.

  • Stay safe on the road. The most important aspect of any road trip is safety, so be sure to bring along a well-stocked first aid kit. Before hitting the road for a long trip, get any scheduled car maintenance done, such as oil changes and tire rotations. Be sure you are also prepared for unexpected events on the road—you certainly don't want to be stranded on an unknown stretch of highway during your family vacation. Liberty Mutual's 24-Hour Roadside Assistance coverage provides support on the road and can help make arrangements to get a tow, jump start a dead battery, deliver emergency fuel, change a flat tire and even unlock your car doors if the keys get locked inside.
  • Map it out. You probably have GPS in your car, but before leaving home, plug your route into a mapping site like MapQuest or Google Maps to determine the driving time between destinations. Get a baseline of how long it will take to get from point A to point B so you can plan for stops—lots of stops—for bathroom breaks, snack breaks, play breaks, and just because breaks.
  • Pack plenty of travel toys, crafts and games. Keep a separate stash of travel toys for easy retrieval and "wow" factor for each trip. Many popular board games come in travel versions that are fun and easy to store. Look for crafts that don't involve scissors or glue, like coloring and activity books with crayons or markers. Don't forget pit stop entertainment like sidewalk chalk, bubbles for blowing, a beach ball or Frisbee, and a jump rope.
  • Sit in the backseat. If you're traveling with multiple adults, sit in the backseat with your kiddos for at least a portion of your road trip. From there, you can play board games, assist with craft projects and play make believe with your children.
  • Give in to the lure of electronics. After traditional playtime and activities, reward children for good behavior with time spent with a smartphone, DVD player, tablet or digital music player. Keep the digital devices hidden and only pull them out when you need a whopper of a distraction.
Keep an eye out for my next New Beginnings post and join the conversation using the hashtag, #mynewbeginning.

Colleen Lanin is the author of the award-winning book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," and the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular family travel blog, TravelMamas.com.


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