Taking a Road Trip with Your Kids this Fall? Here Are 5 Safety Tips to Consider!

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family travel

Filling the car with toys, games, and snacks to survive a road trip with your kids is not nearly enough for a fun family adventure. On the other hand, you should not listen to those who say that you should plan road trips with kids only after growing up significantly.

Just as John and Samantha (whom I thank for the opportunity to share some tested-and-true safety tips for parents today) know, taking your children on a family vacation can be sometimes challenging, but not impossible, nor exhausting. Road trips mean spending a lot of time in the car and a fantastic bonding, educational, and personal experience for each family member.

They are memorable as long as you can manage the most critical issues, also leaving room for some improvisation and even messiness. So let’s see today some safety tips all parents should consider before planning a road trip with the kids this fall!

1.  Tune-Up Your Car

If driving is a part of your life, you know you cannot even consider a road trip without checking and tuning up your car. According to the NHTSA, even the most well-maintained vehicle could break down or encounter some troubles. For this reason, besides taking your vehicle to the mechanic a few days before the trip, you should also pack an emergency roadside kit containing:

  •         a spare phone cell with charger,
  •         first aid kit,
  •         flashlight,
  •         jumper cables,
  •         flares,
  •         essential car repair tools to fix a minor issue,
  •         extra emergency blankets & towels,
  •         and a change of clothes for everyone in the car.

You may think that all of this represents unnecessary baggage that weighs a lot and slows you down. After all, we live in the smartphone and Internet era, where tow services are a call/click away. Trust me when I say this, not being able to fix a flat tire at dusk, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service whatsoever, and with two cranky kids in the back is an experience no parent (or child) should go through.

2. Talk to Your Lawyer before You Go on Your Trip

If you wonder what road trips and lawyers have in common, I will tell you this: car accidents, even minor ones, can throw your entire trip and fun down the drain. Relying on your car for getting around means more exposure to accident risk for the vehicle and its passengers, and knowing an attorney you can depend on saves a lot of hassle. Therefore, before you go on an adventure with the kids, share with your lawyer your trip details. Even if you dent your car in a parking lot, the issues of insurance, liability, fault, and damages are things that will ruin your trip.

A lawyer can advise you on the specific car accident laws in the cities/communities you drive through during your road trip. If you intend to go to another state, a car accident attorney is even more useful. Make sure your insurance policies are up to date. Discuss with your attorney about liability, possible claims, injuries, and the steps you need to take the second after any car accident.

3. Manage Heatstroke and Car Sickness

Taking a road trip in early fall means enjoying dedicated quality time with the family without exposing anyone to the health dangers posed by the pandemic. However, it doesn’t mean you will ever be out of the woods when you travel with kids. In summer, heatstroke is a more common issue than one thinks.

For this reason, you should know by heart all heatstroke prevention methods, especially when you travel with young kids. Early fall is a more appropriate season for long road trips, from this perspective, although you still need to take the correct measures.

Nevertheless, when it comes to planning a road trip with a child who has a case of carsickness, things can get very challenging very fast. Here is what works most of the times:

  •         Pack the mommy bag with medicine that keeps motion sickness at bay;
  •         Take some medical-grade disposable bags with you, just in case;
  •         If a child is old enough to take the front seat, let her stay next to the driver, focusing on the horizon;
  •         Feed the vulnerable child with light foods (stay away from fast food joints, spicy dishes, and all greasy and acidic ones) rich in ginger or peppermint. They do have anti-nausea properties.

4. Break up the Trip

Take a break every two hours to switch drivers, allow everyone to stretch their legs, and have some time to enjoy the scenery and breathe in some fresh air. One tip to make things work in your favor is to drink lots of water. It will keep everyone alert, prevent heatstroke, and make you take frequent bathroom breaks. It is suitable for the driver, the kids, and the shotgun rider as well. The safest way to go about this is to stop at gas stations, motels, restaurants on the way, etc. It will not guarantee you 100% sanitary bathrooms, but it is still safer than other options you might encounter on the road.

5. Mind the Snacks

You will have to stock the backseat with games and toys – while removing choking hazards, poisonous fluids, and other risks. You know that already. Childproofing the car is the first step parents who drive do, so I will not insist on this issue.

What I will insist on, however, is avoiding packing the back seat with unhealthy snacks to give kids an occupation in between two rounds of I Spy. Here is how it works, at least in my family:

  •         Pack a medium-sized insulated zip lock bag with snacks and a refillable water bottle for each child in the back. Ensure the kids understand that once the snacks are over, they won’t get more until the end of the day. Treats or lunch can happen to them along the way, but those are just bonuses. It is an excellent lesson in self-control.
  •         Pack healthy snacks for the kids that you know will not cause digestive issues along the way. Having a bathroom break every couple of hours is one thing. Dealing with vomiting, diarrhea, tummy aches, headaches, and the other nasty stuff is not something you want on a road trip.
  •         Lead by example: you cannot expect children to follow the road trip rules if you do not follow them yourself just because you are the parent. So use your bag of snacks during the day wisely, as well.

Bottom Line

As a parent, you probably learned by now that you could not control everything. However, as long as you are willing to make mistakes, learn from them, get messy, and improvise on the fly, your road trip should be a huge success. On the other hand, a minimal set of safety rules to follow will take the edge off such an experience, especially if it is your first adventure of this kind with the children.

Comments

  1. As a dad who recently got back from a 27 hour road trip with his 4 year old daughter and 18 month old toddler, I can confirm that preparation is key.

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