Spring may be a season characterized by recurrent frosts and unpredictable showers, but June always marks a turning point where things—most notably the temperatures—start looking up! We can finally count on sun-filled afternoons, plus evenings out on the porch as we near the first day of summer. And, with the onset of fine weather comes the planning of family vacations.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy fresh country air, a lakeside retreat, or a buzzing metropolis, there are bound to be dozens of getaway destinations in your area accessible by car. Armed with modern in-car comforts and mobile internet access (crucial for planning roadside stops), there’s no reason not to hit the road. That said, prolonged hours on the road could make sticking to your healthy routines a challenge—that’s why we’re sharing five healthy tips for your next family road trip. Roll those windows down Mama, it’s time to drive!
If you’re trying to keep your family well fed on the go, it’s better not to rely on the chain restaurants most commonly found at roadside rest stops. You may find some fresh produce, such as bananas & apples, or even prepackaged healthy snacks like hummus & crackers at some locations, however, you can’t guarantee it, and healthy convenience store foods are almost always overpriced. You’re better off packing a cooler bag filled with yummy options for the journey to ensure everyone stays satisfied—and no one ends up with an upset tummy. Fruit slices & fish crackers, hard boiled eggs, pureed fruit & vegetable packs, and lots of water are great to have on hand. That said, the occasional roadtrip indulgence could be something kids really look forward to. Think about stopping for ice cream at the halfway mark as a special treat--sprinkles all around!
After sitting for (what feels like) hours, your little ones will be itching to move their energetic bodies. Even babes need to be lifted out of their bucketed car seats for a good stretch—not to mention a diaper change! Unless you plan to exit into a town, you’re unlikely to find a full-fledged park to play in, but that doesn’t mean your littles can’t tumble and climb! Look for restaurants with ball pits or activity gyms to engage their gross motor play. You can also keep your eyes peeled for scenic look-outs which may have picnic tables, large rocks or tree stumps, and—if nothing else—green grass to play on. Green spaces are a great place to roll out yoga mats for a 10-minute family practice, jump with a skipping rope, or kick a ball around. Keeping a few outdoor toys accessible will make these much needed body breaks all the more fun.
Roadtrip entertainment is all about balance. After the rigermorale of getting everything AND everyone packed up, there is bound to be some residual energy in the air. However, the early leg of an in-car journey usually settles into a bit of quiet time. It’s wonderful to encourage the littles to look out the car window at the passing clouds, cars, and trees; let them wonder at the passing scenes for a while. Older children might like to read or listen to their own music. When they are ready, little ones will want toys or games to keep busy. Babes will love sensory objects and teething rings secured to their seats. Toddlers might like a few books, a magnadoodle, or a drawing pad (just be sure to tether 3-4 crayons to the pad, unless you fancy the ‘blind, one-handed, reach’ into the backseat!) Older children will enjoy travel sized games like checkers; some even come with magnetic pieces. And, when all their other entertainment options have run dry, it’s time to bring out the tablet for pre-downloaded TV shows. Sometimes a few episodes of Peppa Pig are all it will take to survive the last 30 kilometers of your journey in peace!
Every parent crosses their fingers in the hopes that their little one will nap during long car rides. Their cozy cushioned seats, the hum of the motor, the warmth of the sun—surely they will sleep, right?… well, not always. That said, there are a few things you can do to encourage enroute slumber for your littles. Firstly, make sure they got to eat, play, and use the toilet before you hit the road. Next, time your journey to coincide with naptime. Let them bring their favourite bedtime buddy for the journey; Older babes can bring a pillow. Play some soft music or sing them a lullaby when they begin to get drowsy or wrangy. Be sure to avoid loud rattles and other noise-making toys so they are able to calm down (not to mention for your own sanity!). Some littles will nap easily while driving, and others simply won’t—try not to feel stressed about a missed nap while on the go. Littles do require routine to thrive, however they are also highly adaptable and any form of travel is a special case that can deviate from your usual schedule. If your partner is behind the wheel, you might lead by example by enjoying a little nap yourself!
You might be protected from the wind and rain, but your family’s skin will still be at the mercy of Mr. Golden Sun while driving in your car. Make sure everyone is wearing broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher, and be sure to reapply at rest stops. If you plan to use your air conditioning, consider dressing the littles in long sleeves and lightweight pants to reduce exposure. Shades for the backseat windows are a great way to protect little eyes and keep your babes from overheating; plus they won’t stop your babe from enjoying the scenic view. A good set of sunglasses is also essential to protecting peepers. Look for sunnies that protect against UVA, UVB, and HEV light. Lastly, sunhats or ball caps are a good way to keep the solar glare from irritating your little passengers—IF you can get them to keep their hats on!
Travelling with your little ones is not only about taking a well-deserved vacation, it’s also about building memories as a family. One of the healthiest tips we can offer is to stay flexible along the way (ultimately serving your mental health). After all, isn’t it the journey, not the destination that matters most? So pack your bags, map your route, and ready your favorite playlist because it’s time to take your family on an epic roadtrip—without compromising healthy choices!