How to Have a Safe Road Trip When Traveling with Kids
As a paranormal historian, I find myself doing many road trips. As a mom, I frequently take my little sidekicks along with me.
Unfortunately, many of the places that I travel to aren’t exactly Disney World. More often than not we find ourselves in run-down old towns or abandoned cemeteries. We are often in the middle of nowhere.
This can be a dangerous practice for a woman and two kids. Because of this, I have picked up a few tips and tricks for staying safe on the road.
Why Go on Road Trips with Kids
Road trips are a great way to explore the country. They often lead to places off the beaten path that you wouldn’t otherwise think to visit. In our travels across the United States, we have visited places like the corn palace in the northern United States, “the Thing”in the southwest, and tons of other great roadside attractions.
They are a great way to teach kids about different cultures. Road trips also show kids different ways of living in the many different states. They are a fun way to step out of your comfort zone and have new and exciting experiences. They can be a great source of educational material as well. We often use travel as part of our homeschool curriculum. My personal travels take us to a wide variety of historical locations.
Traveling the open road can be a great bonding experience for families as well. Sure, being stuck in the car together may not exactly be fun sometimes. Visiting a historic battlefield or finding a shrunken head museum can usually make up for it though.
The most basic thing to consider when thinking of road trip safety is first aid. If you don’t already have a first aid kit in your car now is the time to get one. You never know when you will have a cut, scrape, insect bite, or other emergency occur. You can find a copy of our first aid kit checklist at the bottom of this post to help you create your own.
It is important to plan ahead and go to safe locations whenever possible. Think of places that have more people in them. Choose travel stops for fuel rather than smaller out of the way gas stations. Stop to eat in larger towns if possible. This will make it more difficult for dangerous individuals to single you out.
No matter where you are going be sure to leave a basic itinerary with friends. Make sure they have good contact information as well. This way someone will know if you have been gone a little too long. If plans change, be sure to call your friend and let them know though!
Special Concerns with Kids
They like to think of themselves as little adults sometimes. However, the truth of the matter is that kids are different from us. Kids get dehydrated faster. They get hungry faster and generally have to go to the bathroom more often. Be sure to plan ahead and add a little extra time to your trip to take this into account.
While traveling in the car it is important to be mindful of any potential in-car dangers. This could include heat from the sun, motion sickness, or bad attitudes. Be mindful of how your kids are holding up and adjust your seating or stops as needed.
Make sure that you pack enough water on your trip to keep kids hydrated. Sugary drinks and sodas are ok here and there but are not good for hydration. It is best to stick to plain water when possible.
There are tons of great road trip snacks that you can throw in a basket or bag to have on hand in the backseat with them. If you are packing healthier snacks like yogurt, cheese, or other cool items you can take a cooler. Make sure you check the ice frequently. This will ensure everything stays the right temperature.
When stopping in any place that is unfamiliar it is best to not let children wander on their own. Older kids can go off a bit but always be sure to keep them within eyesight. Be sure to talk with them ahead of time about not talking to strangers. Unfortunately, we live in a time that children can and do disappear forever in just a minute. If someone talks to them they should always get a trusted adult to assist, no matter how old they are.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Problems
Planning your trip out before you go will help to avoid many of the issues that arise when traveling with kids. Be sure to take into account that everyone in the car is an individual with individual needs. For children with sensory issues, this planning could make or break the trip.
Be sure to have food or supplies on hand (even if just snacks and water). In the case of car trouble, traffic issues, or other unforeseen events they can be good to have on hand. If you are traveling in cooler months be sure to bring something to keep warm if you get stuck as well.
While going to out of the way places can be a great learning experiencealways do so with caution. If you are a mom traveling alone with kids you can be seen as a target more often. You may want to consider bringing something like pepper spray just in case. For the most part, though, there will be no need for anything like this.