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Travel: How To Survive a Holiday Family Road Trip

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The holidays are just over the horizon and with them comes a sense of family togetherness and brotherhood of man that makes everyone feel peaceful and joyous. Right? Okay, so anyone that is part of a family knows that moments like this are few and far between. And when you cram the whole fam into the car (plus luggage and presents) for a road trip to visit yet more relatives (no pressure) there are bound to be blowups. However, you can survive a family road trip and even have some fun if you prepare accordingly.

5 Tips for How To Travel During the Holidays

Here are a few tips to ensure a jolly holiday, even when you spend it in close quarters.

  • Pack snacks. You’ll probably be eating out quite a bit and that means road food (ugh). So when it comes to car snacks, pack healthy. Skip sugary sodas and opt for bottled water or natural juices instead. And for munchies, bring trail mix, granola bars, fruits and veggies (pre-sliced), and even some yogurt if you have a cooler. These snacks will keep your family full of energy (but not bouncing off the walls) and feeling good. Snacks high in fiber will help you digest all that greasy diner food.
  • Bring entertainment. Your kids likely have plenty of devices to keep them occupied, from portable game stations to MP3 players to cell phones, tablets, and laptops. But just in case batteries die, bring some old-school entertainment like car versions of board games (Battleship, Connect Four), sing-along CDs, and Mad Libs. Maybe you can get everyone on board for a little family bonding instead of communing with individual electronic devices. Can’t tear the kids away from their phones? Download games they can play together.
  • Plan for stops. Depending on the age of your children, you should plan to stop every 2-4 hours to stretch your legs, take a restroom break, have a snack (or a meal), get gas, and generally take in your surroundings. If you have time to spare, think about visiting some attractions along the way (world’s largest ball of twine?) to break up the monotony. If not, just take a few minutes to get out of close quarters and take a breath of fresh air.
  • Set some ground rules. With the whole family forced into proximity, it’s not a bad idea to implement some rules. Taking turns with devices is a must if children don’t each have their own. And kids need to be aware that fighting will not be tolerated (no yelling, hitting, kicking, biting, and so on). Also, think about rotating seating arrangements so that one kid doesn’t always end up as the monkey in the middle. Fair and balanced is the way to go, and everyone should be respectful of others in the vehicle.
  • Expect the worst. Inclement weather, bad road conditions, and an older vehicle can all transpire to land you up a creek without a paddle (so to speak). So just in case you experience car trouble in the middle of your journey (and potentially the middle of nowhere), it pays to be prepared. You should refuel frequently so you can keep the car running and the heat on while you wait for a tow truck. But if you have room, pack a couple of cold-weather sleeping bags, or at least a box of hand warmers, in case the engine goes out. And make sure to bring basic tools and supplies like car lifts, a tire iron, an adjustable crescent wrench, a gas can, extra oil, and some distilled water. That should more or less cover the bases.
What are your family travel tips? What helps you successfully get through family trips during the holiday season?
Photo Credit courtesy of Flickr.
Elizabeth Retton is a freelance writer and part time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.
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