Family road trips can be entertaining. They’re a great way to see new areas of the country and having new adventures. Every trip creates lasting memories and special moments that are truly unique.
One challenge that many families have is traveling with children. Road trips can be fun, but there are a lot of things to look out for. Keeping your children safe is a constant concern for all parents.
There is a lot of information on the internet about different safety equipment. You can read product reviews and get pricing information online. You can also inspect products personally at your local specialty store or big box retailer.
Here are a few tips to help keep your children safe while you’re on a road trip:
1. Get travel insurance.
Although you’ll probably never need it, buying travel insurance is handy for those rare instances when something goes wrong. Travel insurance covers you and your family in case of accident or emergency. It can help pay for medical bills and other unexpected expenses. You may even qualify for a discount if you already have other existing insurance covered by your insurance provider. Talk to your insurance agent first so that you understand what types of incidents are covered and which ones are not before buying any type of policy.
2. Be prepared.
The old Boy Scout motto comes in handy during family trips. Besides packing enough food, water, clothes, toys and entertainment options for your children, you should also make sure that you have any necessary medications packed along with you. Having a first aid kit in your car is handy for the inevitable bruises, cuts and scrapes that most kids usually experience at some point. Some children may experience motion sickness when they travel, so be sure to pack along any necessary medications and related items in those instances. If your child has any special dietary or medical needs, make sure that you are well equipped to handle those situations. If you are travelling overseas, visit your doctors’ office for any required shots or immunizations before you go.
3. Be alert.
Young children often have a tendency to wander off in crowded areas or places that are new to them. Parents constantly have to be alert as to where their kids are at all times. Whenever you arrive at a new location, take a few minutes to assess your surroundings. Look for any potential dangers. If you need to split up to use the restrooms or explore different places, make sure that at least two people or more go together. This prevents the possibilities of children getting lost. It’s perfectly okay to set boundaries for areas where your children can and cannot go. You can create safe areas where you know your children will not get into trouble or become separated from the group.
4. Childproof your hotel room.
When booking your travel reservations, it’s a good idea to inform the hotel or motel you are staying at if you will be traveling with children. You can ask them about any childproofing measures they may take. You can also do the job yourself when you get there. Make sure that any exposed electrical outlets are covered, and that any electrical wires are either covered or moved out of the way so as to avoid tripping and falling over them. Keep any balconies or windows locked whenever possible. Also, keep an eye out for possible hazards such as cabinet doors, tables with sharp edges and bunk beds that children could possibly fall out of. This is probably going to take some concentrated effort, but the results can help you have a less stressful hotel stay.
5. Go in for a pre-trip tune-up.
Another good ideas is to take your car in to your local mechanic or certified auto dealer for a tune-up before you go on your road trip. Make sure that your battery, tires, air conditioner, heater, belts and fluids are checked. You can also do many of these things yourself. If you’re taking along a boat and trailer or a camper, take some time to make sure they are all maintained, cleaned and ready to go.
6. Check your car seats.
If your children are required to use car seats, take a few minutes before your trip to make sure they are installed properly. This can save you time during your travels and reduce the risk of possible accidents or injuries from car seats that can come loose or are in poor shape. Also, make sure that your child can fit securely in the car seat before you go. If they’ve outgrown the car seat, it’s time for a new one. If you’re concerned about what kind of right car seat is right for your needs, you can find out more information online at My Traveling Baby and other websites.
7. Clean out your car.
While you’re getting your vehicle ready for your trip, take a little time to fully clean and vacuum out the interior. Remove any trash or debris, and watch out for any sharp edges or anything else that could be a hazard to you or your passengers. Wrappers, tools, toys and other small objects could also be projectiles or choking hazards that could seriously hurt someone. While you’re cleaning out your car, you’re actually taking some important steps for travel safety. Stop by the local car wash afterwards for a nice rinse of your car’s exterior too.
8. Take breaks when you need to.
It’s a good rule of thumb to stop for rest or meal breaks every several hours or so during your road trip. You can switch drivers if you need to afterwards, or just get some much-needed rest for a few minutes. Drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated and create the need for more rest breaks. Rest stops can help keep the parents alert and aware of possible dangers on the road. It also helps break up the monotony and boredom of a long drive.
9. Avoid distractions whenever possible.
If you’re spending most of the day driving, your first priority is keeping your eyes on the road. This means avoiding any possible distractions. Keep your cell phone off or secured in a safe location. If you need to leave your phone on, then put it on silent or vibrate. Let your spouse or partner worry about driving directions or background noises. They can tend to the children’s needs and wants so that you can concentrate on getting to your destination safely. You can also take turns driving in case one of you needs a quick nap on your way. Phone calls and emails can wait until after you’ve arrived where you need to be.
10. Pack your car appropriately.
Make a list of all the things you want to bring on your trip before you go, and take into consideration how much weight your passengers and belongings will be taken up. If you are bringing strollers or bikes, you may want to attach them to an external bin attached to the roof of your car or in a trailer or camper hitched to your vehicle. Excess weight, creates increased fuel consumption, and is less efficient in terms of gas mileage. Not only does it add to your travel time, but it’s also illegal in several states to overload your auto. Pack appropriately, and leave the things that you don’t need at home. Besides, you’ll probably want to leave some extra room in your vehicle for souvenirs and other mementos from your trip.
11. Prepare for the weather.
If you’re taking a summer trip, be sure to bring along plenty of sunscreen, sunblock and hats for all of the members of your travel group. You may also want to bring along rain gear or umbrellas. Cover the seats with blankets to reduce the risk of burns when your car is left in the hot sun for a few hours. Never leave any people or animals in a hot car, even if you’re not going to be gone for very long. Temperatures can rise quickly in a car’s interior in just a matter of minutes. If you’re traveling in winter weather, make sure that you have plenty of blankets, gloves and hats with you. Bring along a winter survival kit in case of emergency. You may also want to pack a small shovel in case you get stuck in the snow and can’t get out.
12. Get enough rest before you travel.
To avoid drowsy drivers, it’s a smart idea to get a good night’s sleep before you travel. Aim for a good eight hours of restful sleep or more. This helps keep you alert and reduces the chances of getting into an accident on the road. Getting enough rest keeps you alert so that you can stay focused on reaching your destination safely. Also, make sure your kids get enough rest, no matter how antsy or excited they may be about your vacation. Get them to bed at a decent time, and avoid giving them caffeine or sugar before they go off to sleep. This can keep them up at night and prevent them from getting the rest they need. The more rested you and your family are, the more you can enjoy the trip.
13. Keep your kids occupied.
Children can often get bored on road trips. The farther you have to go, the more restless and irritated they can be. Pack along some of their favorite toys, coloring books or pop in a DVD movie for them to watch on a long trip. This keeps their minds occupied so they won’t ask “are we there yet?” quite as often. It also helps parents focus on driving. Bring a few snacks and plenty of water or juice. Just make sure that any toys don’t contain any small pieces or can easily come apart or break, because they could become choking hazards or projectiles in the event of an accident. Older children may need things like books, movies or music to keep their minds occupied on long car trips. You can also keep your kids entertained by playing travel games or listening to some of your favorite music together.
14. Have a list of contacts.
If something does go wrong, it doesn’t hurt to have some emergency numbers with you, just in case. You should have a list of emergency contacts, such as family members or friends packed with you or on your phone. You should also have the contact information for any hotels that you will be staying at. If you’re going to be late checking in for your reservation, call the hotel and let them know. They may be able to help or provide information if you need emergency assistance.If you’re a member of a roadside assistance plan, have their phone number saved in your phone contacts. This can come in handy if you get a flat tire or have car trouble.
15. Drive safely.
This is a very common sense tip, but a very important one to keep both you and your loved ones safe on that cross-country road trip. Make sure that you and your passengers are safely buckled in before you hit the road. Obey all local traffic laws and ordinances, and don’t go over the speed limit. Slowdown in road construction areas and in inclement weather. If you are feeling tired or under the weather, take a break and let another adult to drive or take a rest break if you need to. Avoid excess caffeine and never drive if you’ve been drinking. Staying focused and alert can help greatly reduce the risk of accidents caused by distracted driving.
These are just some of the many ways that you can keep your kids safe on road trips. Many of them are common sense ideas, and don’t take a lot of time to implement. A few minutes of precaution can make any vacation a lot more enjoyable. Ensuring the safety of you and your passengers allows you to concentrate on your driving so that you and your family can make that road trip a magnificent bonding experience.