Whether you're tooling down Route 66 or just a few hours from home, the best family road trips make getting there part of the fun.
Rules of the Road
A few weeks ahead:
- Decide length and style of trip. Do you want precise route plans and hotel reservations or are you going to wing it?
- Search out information on your destination as well as sights along the way.
- Buy or borrow car games or music CDs for kids; check audio books out of the library that the whole family can enjoy.
- Decorate notebooks with pictures of the destination for each child as travel journals.
- Give each kid a disposable camera and tell them to chronicle the high points of the trip.
- Start thinking about meals and favorite snack items to bring along. Plan at least one picnic meal for that first day on the road.
Two days to departure:
- Shop for fruits that hold well at room temperature: apples, grapes, bananas. Buy family favorite vegetables that are good for snacking: cucumbers, baby carrots, celery.
- Leave some fruit whole. Cut up raw vegetables and fruit to store in zip top plastic bags. Make a bag for each kid or just one big bag of fruit and one of veggies.
- Bake sweet treats that sport some healthful additions to satisfy family munchies, or make up a tasty dip to go along with fruits and vegetables. (The Zucchini Brownies and Granola Bars can cook side by side in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes.)
The night before:
- Put plenty of blue ice packs in the freezer or freeze plastic bags with crushed ice.
- Mix up a pasta salad for the main course to keep things simple.
- Pack one cooler with everyone's favorite canned drinks and bottled water; store extras in the trunk. Add blue ice or crushed ice in the morning.
- Ready a second cooler for food and pack it just before you leave.
- Place eating supplies and nonperishables in a box in the trunk: napkins, utensils, plates, hand sanitizers or wipes, dish detergent, individual box cereals, nuts and mini snack mixes.
- Pack a first aid kit: band aids, bug spray, aspirin, and sunscreen.