Whether you’re gearing up for a fun road trip to a national park, amusement park, or even just grandma and grandpa’s house, family car trips don’t have to be a drag. They can be fun, safe, and the kind of trips you’ll cherish the memories of for years to come.
Keep everyone happy with this survival guide of five car safety tips for traveling with kids. Buckle up, and enjoy the ride!
1) Prepping for your trip
Before you head out on the road, you’ll want to make sure you have your route mapped out. If you’re driving somewhere remote, paper maps and directions are a good idea in case cell phones or GPS signals are nonexistent.
Build in stops for meals and to get out and stretch your legs. It’s always fun to make a quick detour to quirky diners, scenic lookout spots, or interesting sights along the way. Do an Internet search in advance to see what lies along your route.
Also make sure your car has been serviced, including a recent oil change. Have the mechanic take a quick look, especially if you are renting a car from a rental platform for your trip, for any issues that may come up while you’re on the road.
Don’t leave home without the peace of mind that it’s secure. If you don’t already have one, read this guide on how to choose a home security system.
2) What to bring
With kids in tow, you’ll need plenty of entertainment, snacks, and music or games. Have each child pack a backpack or small bag with things to keep them occupied during the car trip.
Portable fun for kids:
– Tablets, smartphone, or DVD players (plus chargers)
– Card or small board games
– Music players
– Crayons and paper
– Stuffed animals and favorite blankets
Also keep kids occupied by playing fun games, like looking for out-of-state license plates or counting cars in a certain color.
You’ll also want to pack a few necessities:
– Warm- or cold-weather clothing
– Rain gear
– First aid kit
– Portable snacks and drinks
Being prepared is the best car safety tip for traveling with kids!
3) How to ensure safety
The safety of your children is of utmost importance while traveling. Make sure all seat belts are functioning properly in your vehicle, and car seats are installed properly.
Especially with smaller children, identification tags are a good idea in case you ever get separated from your child. This is especially important when visiting crowded places like amusement parks or museums. The tags can be fastened in a pocket or to a shoe.
The tags should list:
– Child’s name and home address
– Any medical conditions the child has
– Parental names and cell phone numbers
– Your lodging place and phone number
– Any other pertinent information
A week or more before you leave, start talking to your kids about your trip, and where you’ll be visiting and staying. Explain what to do if suddenly they can’t find mom or dad. Make it into a game to have them memorize and recite your full name and cell phone number. Also talk to kids about strangers, and what to do if someone approaches them.
4) Safe lodging
Once you’re at your hotel or other lodging place, look around and see if there are any immediate hazards, such as cords young kids can trip over, or any windows or balconies that could pose a safety issue.
Child-proof your quarters as best as possible. Move furniture in front of windows or doors you don’t want your child to access. If there are lamps or other items with cords that pose a potential safety issue, remove them or lock them in a closet or other secure space.
Use tape or Band-Aids as covers for electrical outlets to protect curious toddlers, and remove anything from the mini fridge that you don’t want your kids to eat or drink. If there is a pool, advise children to only swim if mom or dad is watching.
At night, it’s advisable to keep the chain lock on the door. This not only keeps people out of your room, but it keeps kids in if they have a penchant for exploring, or if they sleep walk.
Also remind kids what to do in case of a fire. Need a refresher on good fire safety? Read these tips on creating a fire escape plan for your family.
5) Staying stress-free on the road
Road trips with the whole family really can be fun by following these car safety tips for traveling with kids. Most important to everyone having a good time is if mom and dad are having a good time.
If you find yourself getting frustrated with maps or directions, take a few deep breaths and remain calm. Setting a good example of how to problem solve on the fly is one of the best road trip lessons kids can learn.
Wherever your road trip travels take you, have fun and be safe!