Are you game enough to embark on a family road trip with kids and their grandparents?
The road ahead is fraught with possible danger, possible tears and head slapping moments.
But, it’s also filled with treasured bonding experiences between your children and their grandparents (and of course between you and your parents.) Having a plan is key to making it heaven rather than hell (so is daily meditation in the months leading up to you it so you can practice letting IT go.) You define what that IT is when it comes to the grandparents!
We checked off many lifetime bucket list experiences, grew closer, and didn’t have one bad moment. You can read more tips for planning a multi-generational family road trip in this post.
Our tips for surviving a road trip with kids and grandparents will help you reach that divine experience.
1. Do you have a big enough car?
First and foremost, this is the greatest challenge for you to solve. If your vehicle is not big enough, you may have to look at renting a bigger car, or two cars. Perhaps your parents can drive their own vehicle, or you can rent two smaller cars if separation is needed.
Although, I do think time spent together while driving between destinations can often be the most rewarding! Don’t forget to consider luggage space.
If this is an issue, you can buy skyboxes for the top of your car which helps. We have a Yakima Skybox which is excellent and came in handy for our multi-generational road trip.
2. Assign everyone a role
It’s great to give everyone a role to play in the car, and exploring a city. If you have multiple drivers, you’ll want to switch up the roles as well. Give the children something they can easily manage and will enjoy doing. I’m pretty sure Savannah was Chief Entertainer and Kalyra, simply The Boss.
You decide what makes sense for your family style but here are a few suggestions:
- Chief Navigator
- Time Keeper
3. Service, clean and organize the car
A car can quickly turn into a messy toddlers bedroom when road tripping with multiple people. So it’s essential you start with a clean and organized car and do your best to keep it that way!
- Where will you put the luggage?
- What about storing entertainment inside the car?
- What about food and water?
- Do you have a garbage bag?
Storage boxes, small trash cans, and over the seat organizers come in handy.
Have a place for everything and instruct all passengers of where things belong and their roles in keeping a tidy car. Every time you stop the car, instruct everyone to collect any trash and dispose of it. These good habits will keep a tidy car.
Make sure you service the car before your trip. The last thing you want is car troubles on your dream family vacation.
4. Have Ample Entertainment in the car
There are multiple ways you can entertain kids in the car:
board games – we like the miniature magnetic versions you can get of games like snakes and ladders, checkers, and clue. They’re easy to store and use in a car.
interactive games – you know those common ones like, Eye Spy.
coloring and reading books
iPad games and movies
We currently homeschool our kids, so we use driving times to do some school work.
If this is not you, your children can research the next place to visit and discover some fun facts or interesting things to do and see while there. This helps them to connect to and feel ownership of the experience.
You could have them map out the journey or keep you updated on driving times and how much longer there is to go.
5. Limit devices and encourage interaction
I know how challenging this one is!
Road tripping with kids is exhausting and you’re tempted to let them get lost in movies and games. But you’re traveling with the grandparents and kids for quality time together, and hours in the car makes for good bonding opportunities. Allow your child to use their device but restrict their time on it. An hour on the device will give the grownups a bit of quiet time and Nan and Pop some time to snooze.
Encourage talking and interactive games in the spaces between and during rest breaks.
6. Plan your stops before you depart for the day
It’s a good idea to map out the day’s driving journey before you leave, noting possible places to stop for food or a stretch break.
This saves you the headache of researching while you are driving, only to find what sounds like an awesome place for coffee just as you drive on past the exit for it.
You may even want to research any quirky or historic roadside attractions you can stop off at to bring in those unexpected and memorable travel experiences.
We decided to stop at Gettysburg for a couple of nights as it was on the way from Asheville to New York City and we couldn’t drive the entire way in one stint.
7. Pack plenty of food and water for the car
We usually move so quickly after breakfast, and are on the road for such long stints, that we can be very disorganized with this road trip tip.
It does mean we waste a lot of time and money finding places to eat along the journey.
We also love to stop for coffee, which can chew up your time finding a good one! But, there’s just nothing like a hot coffee while you’re driving!