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Grab your shades and buckle up, because summer is here and it’s time for the ultimate adventure – a road trip!

Picture this: my husband, our energetic sons, and I embarked on a journey to Windsor for our little slugger’s baseball tournament. Little did we know, this escapade would ignite the spark for this blog! Now, let’s be honest, entertaining two grown-ups on a road trip can be a breeze, but throw in a couple of kids, and it’s a whole new ball game!

Here are 7 ways to stay sane on a road trip and keep the journey as enjoyable as possible.

1. Leave early and have a plan

When I was a child, we left the house before sunrise. My dad would push the back seats down (you can’t do this anymore), and we’d be asleep for a few hours.

Bringing pillows and blankets from home can the kids have a space they can settle in, and this way, they sleep through part of the journey!

Leaving early also helped avoid a lot of traffic. If you’ll be traveling through major cities, plan ahead so you’re not passing through at rush hour.

2. You cannot have too much entertainment.

Gone are the days when you could just pack a bag and hop in the car. The grownups may be entertained with some tunes, but the kids will be bored in 20 minutes.

Treat the road trip like you were flying. Each kid should have their own carry-on bag so anything they need is within arm’s reach, saving those in the front seat from having to turn around constantly.

The bag should contain activity books like word searches and colouring books, as well as snacks (more on those in a moment), and water bottles.

A road trip is not the time to be sharing screens. Each child should have their own device, whether it’s a tablet, laptop, or portable DVD player (does anybody still use those?). I know, you want to minimize screen time, but being in the car for hours at a stretch is not the time to start monitoring. And the last thing you want to do is referee the kids when they’re deciding what to watch.

Download movies and games before you leave because wi-fi can be spotty (not to mention expensive).

Don’t forget some alternatives to the screens. Too much screen time causes headaches and general grumpiness. My younger son likes to listen to audio books. He just looks out the window, listens to the story and watches the world go by.

You can also bring craft supplies, like pipe cleaners for creating animals. Anything that’s easy to clean up can be included, such as yarn and beads, a dry erase board, or origami. My older son likes to make flip books from a stack of post-it notes.

There are games that the whole family can participate in such as 20 Questions, or Name That Tune. All you have to do is create the playlist. One of my favourites was road trip bingo. Click here to download a bingo card.

3. You cannot have too much food.

Bento boxes are a great option for food in the car because it allows you to keep portions in check and include some junk food along with healthier options like peanut butter and jelly, nuts and dried fruit, fresh vegetables and fruit, and cheese sticks.

Don’t forget disposable cutlery, plates, napkins, trash bags and paper towel (we usually go through an entire roll!).

4. Plan your breaks.

We plan to stop every 2 – 3 hours. This gives the driver a rest and we can all stretch and go to the bathroom. Having interesting things to see along the way makes it more fun. Before setting out, familiarize yourself with weird or unusual landmarks, or something else worth seeing like a cool aquarium or a scenic overlook.

You should also know if the highway has rest stops or if you need to go into town.

The Roadtrippers app will help you find food, gas, and the biggest ball of twine on your route.

5. Emesis is your nemesis

Not to be gross, but pack barf bags. Extended periods of sitting in a moving vehicle with sweets and electronics can lead to sick kiddos. I’ve made a habit of taking the barf bags when I’m on a flight, but you can also double up plastic shopping bags.

6. Be an overnight success

If you’re stopping somewhere overnight, pack a separate bag complete with a change of clothes (including pajamas) and toiletries so you don’t have to completely unpack and re-pack.

Don’t forget the bathing suit if there’s a pool or lake where you’re stopping.

7. When all else fails

Spoil the kids a bit. Have extra things to pull out during the road trip like little treats they like that they don’t normally get, such as candy bags or gift cards for different gaming platforms. The dollar store is a great place for this and it can keep them motivated during the road trip.

Happy Trails!

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