Hi Everyone, Megan Here! My family and I are getting ready to hit the road for a summer road trip. In all, we'll be driving our 2013 Toyota Prius just over 1,700 miles from Michigan to North Carolina.
As parents, we start thinking through plans for the trip a few weeks in advance. The destination and route are the same as years past-my husband Brian's family's home in North Carolina, but we still have other aspects of the trip to plan out.
Brian and I were debating renting a minivan instead of taking our Prius. I went to the EPA's website to figure out the fuel economy for the trip. Our sweet Toyota Prius will have us spending just under $50 each way on our road trip! When contemplating renting a van (an added $350 expense) we saw we would easily double the amount of money spent on fuel. That sealed the deal, the Prius is taking the trip again this year!
Once on the road, I like the Waze app and have my phone mounted on the dash with this phone mount. Brian doesn't care what GPS system is used as long as we get there. Since we do drive through the mountains, we always print out a map from Google Maps because we know our phones will lose signal for a chunk of time.
Stuff for the Kids
As any parents do, Brian and I have been thinking of ways to keep our 8 and 5 year old happy and busy on the long car ride. Aside from packing snacks, water bottles, fully charged devices and headphones we know the kids will need a little more to keep busy.
If your kids would like some kind of "desk", we got the ones pictured that fold up by Rubbermaid. They're not sturdy like a table, but the kids were able to set iPads up, color, set food on, and play with toys on them. They also saved the backs of our seats!
Here are a list of websites with free printables that can help your road trip go smoothly!
- Road Trip Journal - Perfect for school aged kids and even younger! Though our 5 year old may not be able to write everything out, she sure can draw the fantastic things she's doing on her trip! Our 8 year old will be able to write a lot about his days on their trip. I'll pre-load folders with these pages so the kids can fill them out daily.
- CarBucks - The kids will be able to earn CarBucks while they're on the road. Good attitudes, behavior and manners are all rewarded (bribery? No shame in our road trip game!) These can either be spent on the road on parent-approved snacks or be saved for destination purchases.
- License Plate Game and Road Trip Scavenger Hunt- You could print out one of these and laminate it for each child. They can mark off what they find with a dry erase marker and reuse them over and over again. There are many variations of this game, give it a Google and find something age appropriate for your child.
- Google Maps - Printing out a map of your starting point and destination is a fantastic idea for school aged kids. They will be able to check off cities they go past and see how far they've gone and how far they have left to go. The progress they see will be exciting to them. If you're a super planner, you could even add in stops!
Whole Car Entertainment
This week our family started listening to a lot of music and adding songs that at least one person in our family liked to a playlist in Apple Music. This can be easily done on many music streaming apps and you could always go the "old school" route of making a mixed cd! Make sure that you download the playlist so that if you hit a spot with no signal you can still listen to your music! I love this idea to have everyone's input on a playlist. When a person's song comes on it will give them a little boost in the car.
My family will also use the Libby app through our local library to listen to audiobooks. Since the kids are small, we listen to books about Fudge and Ramona Quimby. They keep everyone entertained and are easy to follow along with.
Podcasts are also a great way to pass time. At some points, I will be listening to podcasts in my headphones and at other times the entire family will be listening to educational (yet entertaining) podcasts. PBS has a great ones for kids!
Before any road trip, make sure that your vehicle is up-to-date on required maintenance and safety items. It doesn't feel good to get far away from home and your own trusted techs and need a repair. Ervine's Auto Repair and Grand Rapids Hybrid offer Pre-Trip Inspections and would love to help make sure your trip go smoothly!