Family road trips are a time-honored tradition. But they can also be tiring, frustrating, and result in way too many backseat meltdowns. How to keep everyone comfortable, healthy and well-fed on the road? We asked Melanie Haiken, of Health Conscious Travel to give us some tips.
Water, Water Everywhere
Recently, I was camping with a friend, and I noticed that she had no trouble getting her kids to stay hydrated. How? Each had his or her own super-cute decorated metal water bottle, which they carried everywhere; they could even clip them to their belt loops on walks! So off we went to the store, and I let each of my daughters pick out her own water bottle. Hearts, peace signs, turtles; there were all sorts of cute designs and they had a blast lining them up and choosing. Sure enough, the water bottles go everywhere with them now, and I no longer have to nag them to drink. The act of taking “ownership” really works!
Plan for Healthy Eating
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to entertain, even for a moment, whining requests to stop for fast food. No way! So when we travel, we pack a healthy lunch and a cooler full of drinks before we leave. Then when it’s time for a lunch stop, we’re well-prepared and can take advantage of any beaches, parks or picnic grounds we pass along the way. And if the kids are wiggly and restless, a playground is a great way to tire them out!
Stop at Farm Stands
There’s no better way to experience the country you’re driving through than to stop by a roadside stand – and you can pick up some fresh fruit to eat along the way, too. Farm stands are also a great way for kids to see vegetables growing and to understand where their food comes from. And who knows, they might be curious enough to try something different!
You never know what’s going to happen on the road, right? That’s why I keep a box stashed behind the seat with everything we might need in outdoor situations. Here’s what’s in it:
- Mosquito repellent
- A swiss army knife
- A flashlight
- Tecnu, to wash away poison oak
- A box of moist towellettes
- An extra leash and foldable water bottle for the dog
- A roll of toilet paper. (Yep, we’ve needed it!)
- Extra plastic bags for leftovers; also handy for dog poops
Always Ready for Fun
When we take road trips, we keep a “swim bag” within easy reach so that if we get hot and tired, we can stop at a rest stop or swimming hole and cool down. In addition to swim suits and towels, it has our water shoes, sun hats, goggles and a big bottle of sunscreen. Other equipment that lives in our car includes badminton racquets and birdie, a Frisbee, and a ball to kick around. For while there was a hula hoop back there, but it took up too much room.
Save the Driver’s Back
Hours on the road in one position can take a toll on your back, particularly if it tends to be twinge-y in the first place, as mine does. A breakthrough in comfort for me was purchasing a back-saver pillow for the driver’s seat. I never leave home without one designed by back pain expert Esther Gokhale called the StretchSit cusion. But there are wide variety of seat inserts available at office supply stores and the like. I also use a steering wheel gripper to lessen tension on my arms. Remember, the driver’s comfort is essential for the safety of everyone in the car!