Summer is in full swing which means it’s officially road trip season! If you’re planning to hit the road with the kiddos, whether it be a camping trip, trek to an amusement park or day at the beach, check out these useful tips to help prepare for your journey.
BONUS – download our Road Trip Bingo game to keep your little ones entertained on the road.
Before heading out, do a quick safety check to ensure your car seats are properly installed. Need a refresher? Check out our handy installation guide.
It’s also a good idea to check your car’s oil level, tire pressure, and make sure your safety lights are working properly.
We highly recommend keeping an emergency road kit in your vehicle. It’s one of those things where you never realize how important it is until you actually need it! If you don’t already have one, you can create your own by filling a plastic tote or bin with the following items:
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Road flares or reflective safety triangles
- Tire gauge
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Drinking water and non-perishable snacks
- Cell phone charger
Additional essentials for traveling with kids
- Diapers and wipes (within quick reach!)
- Change of clothes, in case of accidents or spills
- Garbage bags (or try our Bag It dispenser, perfect for storing in your glove box)
- Plenty of snacks and beverages
- Portable DVD player or tablet
- Portable bottle warmer, like our Warm ‘n Go Deluxe
- Favorite blanket or stuffed animal
Once you’re ready to hit the road, take time to make sure your child is properly harnessed in their car seat. Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind:
- When strapping in your kiddos, the chest clip should always be level with your child’s armpits. This is one of the most common mistakes we see.
- For rear-facing seats, the harness straps should be at or BELOW the child’s shoulders. For forward-facing, the harness straps should be at or ABOVE the child’s shoulders. Because your little one is constantly growing, check frequently for proper chest clip and harness positioning, ESPECIALLY before venturing out on a long trip.
- The harness should fit snug and comfortable on your child. Do a quick pinch test to check for the proper fit. Take your thumb and index finger and glide your fingers along the harness at your child’s collar bone. If you can pinch more than half an inch of the harness strap, tighten the harness again. Less than a half inch means the harness is properly tightened.
Naptime is Golden
Planning your road trip around your baby or toddler’s naptime can be a LIFESAVER on long trips. Just make sure you don’t have to make any stops once they fall asleep or you might end up with a very cranky baby!
Diono makes several great products to help keep a watchful eye on your little one while driving, including the Easy View mirror, Easy View Plus mirror, and See Me Too adjustable mirror. The reassurance of being able to see your kiddo as they snooze (wishful thinking!) can make all the difference in your journey.
Keep ‘Em Busy
Gone are the days where your road trip meant jamming out to your favorite tunes and getting quality one-on-one time with your partner. Sitting in the car for hours can be hard enough as an adult, but for kids it can seem like torture! Bring toys, books, movies, kid-friendly tunes and plenty of snacks to keep your child entertained. These distractions will also help maintain your sanity.
Looking for something besides a movie to keep the kids entertained? Download our FREE Road Trip Bingo game! Print one for each child to play along as you drive. Your kids are sure to have a blast looking for road signs, animals, vehicles and other fun items along your trek. Perhaps even entice them with a special treat, such as a stop at the park or ice cream, once they complete the game.
Download Road Trip Bingo
Be Prepared for Stops
As most of us that have traveled with children can attest, the last thing you want is to be driving in the middle of nowhere only to hear your toddler scream “I need to potty!” Plan ahead for frequent stops along your route to give the kids a chance to use the restroom, stretch their legs and grab a snack. Look for parks or other grassy space that will give them a chance to expend some energy. Or, as one of our Facebook fans Shauna cleverly suggested, stopping at a fun spot like a zoo or aquarium might give your kids a nice break and tucker them out for the next leg of the trip.
If you do make a stop, keep in mind that the summer heat can cause car seat buckles to heat up rather quickly. Keep car seats cool when you’re parked in a parking lot by covering them with a towel, but don’t leave it as an extra layer between the seat and your child once you take off.
We asked our Facebook fans for input on surviving road trips and (surprise!) the general consensus was to be patient and plan for breaks. Don’t expect to make a long trip with your kids without making a few stops. Be flexible – the end goal is to have a fun and memorable family trip.