(StatePoint) Taking the family on a road trip? When kids are in tow, an extended car ride means thinking ahead to help avoid headaches and squabbling over personal space. A little planning can go a long way in making the trip enjoyable for passengers of all ages.
To minimize backseat frustrations and maximize fun on the open road, consider these tips:
• Babies and Toddlers: Manage meltdowns by factoring in nap time when planning your route. Drive while little ones are sleeping and take breaks that coincide with their regular eating schedule.
• The Grade School Set: Let each child pack their own road trip survival backpack. They can fill it with their favorite car-friendly snacks, crafting gear and tech gadgets. Make sure items are fully charged and bring along extra batteries. Think about bringing a new book or snack they haven’t seen before to keep things interesting when their interest begins to wane.
• Tweens and Teens: This age group has a lot of opinions. To help keep the peace, give them a say in some car-related activities. Let them choose the playlist for one hour or use an app to geo-locate a restaurant for lunch.
• At Every Age: Safety should always be at the forefront of every road trip. Keep a first aid kit handy and have extra bottled water in the trunk. Make sure every passenger is wearing a seat belt or is properly secured in his or her car seat before putting the car in motion. Infants should ride rear-facing until at least two years of age, or until they have reached the maximum height and weight limits of rear-facing car seats, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics.
Choose a car seat designed with both safety and comfort in mind, such as the Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat, which provides five inches of extra legroom and six recline positions. It can be used in rear-facing mode up to 50 pounds and forward facing in a 5-point harness up to 65 pounds, and its harness and headrest are adjustable as your child grows. Additional car seat information can be found at gracobaby.com.
Traveling with children will always be somewhat stressful, and requires a sense of humor; but if you involve them in decisions and think about ways to keep kids comfortable longer on the trip, you will be able to have greater peace of mind and a lot more fun while on the open road.