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15 Awesome Road Trip Hacks for the Whole Family

15 Awesome Road Trip Hacks for the Whole Family

Road trip! What childhood memory comes to mind when you hear those words? Chances are your memories are either about great fun, or hours of misery fighting with your sibling in the back seat of the car. For me, it’s a little bit of both!

Now that I’m older and have learned a lot about traveling with kids of all ages, I realize as long as you take the time to plan ahead on some things, and are wide open to change on others, a road trip can be a fun part of the whole adventure. Here are some great road trip hacks for the whole family.

1. Make Behavior Expectations Clear Before Leaving

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    Image via Flickr by Kim Davies

    This often overlooked hack sets the tone for the whole trip. Talk to your family about trip rules and expectations before you leave. Print them out so you can refer back to the rules if necessary. The last thing you want to hear is, “You didn’t tell me that!”

    The rules should include things like, “Everyone uses the restroom when we stop, even if you don’t have to go,” and “When we stop, everyone stays together.” Also relay expectations about how often you will be stopping, when you will eat, what reward will be given for good behavior, and what is taken away if behavior is not up to par. By going over these simple rules and expectations beforehand, your family will know what to do.

    2. Hang a Backpack Full of Activities Over the Headrest of the Front Seat

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      Image via Flickr by MTSO fan

      This hack works for all ages and there’s nothing to buy since just about everyone owns a backpack. Items inside the pack can be customized based on age.

      Hang a backpack over the head rest of the front seat, then roll the flap of the backpack down and secure it with a binder clip. Once secure, fill the bag and mesh compartment inside with age-appropriate activities and snacks. This hack can be super simple or very creative. For little ones, you might want to wrap up a few dollar store toys and put them in the bag as a special surprise.

      3. Fill Fido’s Kong Toy with Peanut Butter

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        Image via Flickr by OakleyOriginals

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        Dogs get bored just like kids. When traveling with your four-legged kid, fill a Kong toy with a tasty treat such as peanut butter. I know, it sounds gross but it really does work! He will be able to smell the treat even after licking all he can out of the center. This keeps him busier than a normal toy would and it doesn’t splinter all over your car like a bone.

        Once you reach your destination, just rinse the toy thoroughly inside and out to remove any leftover treat still inside. Most of the Kong toys have a larger opening that makes cleaning easy.

        4. Play Games that Promote Working as a Team and Avoid Games with One Winner

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          Image via Flickr by Vastateparkstaff

          Face it! Kids are competitive at all ages, and they will fight if given the chance. A game that requires everyone to work as a team will help everyone get along better. You can play a game of scavenger hunt and offer a prize for everyone once all of the items are collected, say, “If you get everything on the list, we will stop and have ice cream!” That would work for me!

          It may be best to avoid some of the more traditional games like license plate bingo if you are traveling with competitive kids. Games like these can backfire and cause fights when someone doesn’t believe you actually saw that license plate from Ohio.

          5. Create a Moving Scrapbook

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            Image via Flickr by Bunches and Bits

            Assign everyone a different task. Someone can be in charge of pictures, someone items for the scrapbook, and someone keeps a journal. The idea is that each person works on their part while on the trip so that when you return home from your destination, you have everything for a scrapbook. The collaborative work becomes a meaningful souvenir everyone will appreciate.

            6. Stay Connected While On the Road

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              Image via Flickr by Sidartha Thota

              An easy solution for staying connected to the internet on larger devices such as a tablet is use your smartphone’s hot spot or tethering capabilities. This hack comes in handy for the whole family. Full views usually offer more information than a mobile view so it’s easier to find maps and other needed information faster.

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              Remember, if you don’t have unlimited data you will want to either purchase more data before you leave, or monitor the usage closely while on the road to avoid overage charges.

              7. Schedule Pit Stops Where Everyone Can Burn Off Excess Energy

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                Image via Flickr by lulginter

                Bring action items such as a football or Frisbee so that you can encourage everyone to burn off excess energy during pit stops. If you forget to bring something family members can chase, no worries, foot races or tag will get you the same result.

                This is a great family activity so Mom and Dad should be running too. Exercise helps release endorphins and that reduces stress. If you are less stressed, you will be better able to handle the hiccups that may happen along the way.

                8. Go Old School and Bring a Real Map and a Sharpie

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                  Image via Flickr by StefanAndrejShambora

                  There is just something about a traditional map that brings excitement to a trip. You can tell the kids this is how Mom and Dad traveled when we were your age. You will sound ancient but the kids usually think its cool!

                  Allow the kids to trace the route as you go. They will appreciate the visual of how far they have gone and how much further they have to travel to reach the destination. It adds a fun element that is missing in today’s travel.

                  9. Go Off the Beaten Path

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                    Image via Flickr by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

                    Another fun activity for all ages is to follow a couple of those really weird billboards you see along the way or Google, “World’s Largest (you fill in the blank).” These little side adventures not only take you off the beaten path, but they add unexpected fun and memories to your trip.

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                    10. Take Advantage of Free and Reduced Price Days

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                      Image via Flickr by Scott Smith

                      If you want to see something particular in a town, research when they may have free or reduced pricing for that attraction. Many museums and theme parks reduce prices after a certain time of day. Some even offer free admission.

                      Disney is a great place to find these freebies. Many museums in the area offer free days and Downtown Disney is always free. You will find lots of things to do and see there for all ages.

                      11. Look into Coupon Books for a City Before you Travel There

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                        Image via Flickr by Schipul

                        This hack can save you hundreds when visiting a city far away from home. In the US, if I am traveling to a certain area for a few days, I often invest in an Entertainment Book for that area. They tend to be less touristy and using just a couple coupons inside more than pays for the price of the book.

                        If you want to do more of the touristy activities, many cities have coupon books available for attraction-heavy activities around town. Discounts in these books are usually not as good, but any discount is better than none.

                        12. Plan Your Trip to Avoid Detours and Rush Hours

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                          Image via Flickr by Derek Bruff

                          By leaving at a certain time of day, you can avoid rush hour in larger cities and get to your destination faster. If you do happen to hit a rush hour or traffic jam, there are some great apps out there now that can help you detour using alternative routes.

                          When researching a route, don’t forget to check for construction along the way. Sometimes the fastest route becomes the slowest once you hit construction delays.

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                          13. Use a Gas App to Save Money on the Road

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                            Image via Flickr by Andy Pixel

                            Sometimes just a few miles makes a big difference when it comes to gas prices. With a gas app, like GasBuddy, you can easily tell when it is a good time to fill up.

                            If you are taking a rental car on your road trip, beware of high gas prices near the rental facility. Your contract usually requires you bring the car back with a full tank. Recently, I dropped off a car to a rental facility where the gas at the station across the street was priced $1.50 more than I had paid elsewhere. The station was full of people filling up before dropping back their cars. Ouch!

                            14. Remember the Important Travel Essentials: Rubber Bands, Binder Clips and Duct Tape

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                              Image via Flickr by Lynn Friedman

                              Rubber bands and binder clips can secure cell phones, back packs, iPads, and many other items. Duct Tape, well, what can’t Duct Tape do? Use it for quick fixes of squeaks inside the car, securing luggage, and even arts and crafts. It is the universal travel essential you cannot leave home without.

                              Rubber bands and binder clips can be used to hold cell phones in air vents when a holder isn’t available. This is great hack when using a cell phone as a GPS.

                              15. Use the Coat Rack for Something Useful

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                                Image via Flickr by Josh Ferris

                                You can use an additional cargo net like the one pictured, but attach it to the clothes handles above the rear windows near the interior roof. This adds more space for storage and utilizes wasted space along the ceiling. For winter trips, this is an excellent place to put coats or other flat items that are needed, but bulky when left in the seat. It’s also a great place to put pillows.

                                This hack is great for everyday use.You can leave the net there and have an instant storage location to use year round.

                                If you have used any of these hacks, or have hacks of you own, please share your experience in the comment box below. Everyone loves a great hack! What’s yours?

                                Featured photo credit: by Massachusetts Office of Tourism via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on October 16, 2018

                                The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

                                The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

                                It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

                                If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

                                One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

                                Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

                                In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

                                Why you can’t sleep through the night

                                The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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                                Stress

                                If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

                                Exposure to blue light before sleep time

                                We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

                                While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

                                Eating close to bedtime

                                Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

                                Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

                                Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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                                Medical conditions

                                In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

                                The vicious sleep cycle

                                The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

                                Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

                                You get a bad night’s sleep
                                –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
                                –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
                                –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

                                  You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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                                  How to sleep better (throughout the night)

                                  To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

                                  1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

                                  What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

                                  Here are a few suggestions:

                                  • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
                                  • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
                                  • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
                                  • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
                                  • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                                  2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

                                  What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

                                  • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
                                  • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
                                  • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
                                  • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

                                  3. Adjust your sleep temperature

                                  Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

                                  Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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                                  Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

                                  Sleep better form now on

                                  Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

                                  I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

                                  As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

                                  Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

                                  Reference

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