You have probably long dreamed of picking up a spacious 12 seater van rental and going on a big family trip. However, the hassle of planning and preparing is something that has often stopped you. Yes, many parents believe that road trips with kids are very difficult, but in fact, everything is much easier than you expect.
Traveling with children in a rental car will bring wonderful family memories, even if it comes to a long-distance journey. The main thing is to plan everything correctly.
Well, if you’re going on a family road trip, our simple tips will help to make it fun and enjoyable!
Plan your route
In order to plan your route, answer a few questions. Where do you want to go? How long will your trip take? When is the best time to go to avoid seasonal traffic jams? How many hours do you need to set aside for unexpected stops?
When planning a route, make overnight stops as the main markers. Then divide the total travel time into small breaks. For an optimal route calculation, adhere to the following rule: for every two hours of driving, make one half-hour stop so that the child can get out, change the situation, and take a walk. Also, plan one longer stop. During this time, parents can have a quiet lunch and also rest while the kid sleeps.
If you have never traveled with children in a car and just want to try, start with short trips. For example, go from Miami to Orlando, or from New York to Philadelphia.
Plan your travel budget
The amount you plan to spend during the day should include the cost of three to four meals, the cost of fuel, the cost of a daily car rental, and the budget for incidentals. Please note that many roads in the USA are toll roads. For example, when planning a route in Google Maps, you can choose a way to detour such roads so as not to waste too much money, or, conversely, include toll roads in your trip to get to the desired destination faster.
If you are going to visit national parks, campsites, or amusement parks, also include these costs in your travel budget. And don’t forget that in different states the price of fuel can vary significantly, which may also entail additional costs.
Book a rental car
Choosing a rental car for a family trip is of great importance as it provides comfort while moving from place to place. When people are traveling with a large family or two families, they often take a seven-seater minivan – for example, the Opel Zafira, VW Sharan, or the 7-seater SUV Chevrolet Captiva.
However, they all have one drawback: the third row of seats takes up almost the entire volume of the trunk, which makes it impossible to put bags there. Therefore, a 10 or 12 seater van would be a great solution. The large passenger van will be comfortable for every passenger, while all belongings can easily fit in the huge trunk. What’s more, the 12 seater van has an option to fold down the seats, which will further increase the interior space if needed.
Among the 12 seater van options available, consider the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or the Ford Transit, which are leaders in their class. Also, when booking your car rental, pay attention to the fuel policy and choose the one that suits you best.
Pack your suitcase and first aid kit
Make a detailed checklist of the essentials for yourself and your child. You shouldn’t put all sorts of things in your suitcase just in case: most likely, you can buy most of them on the spot.
A change of clothes is needed if the child accidentally splashes or gets dirty in the car, so take with you an additional set of underwear, socks, and outerwear. It’s best to put such a kit in a separate bag and place it in an empty space in the cabin.
Also, be sure to think about the travel clothes for the child: they should be comfortable, not hot, and not cold. A T-shirt, sweatpants, sneakers, and a sweatshirt are the basic clothes for traveling in the warm season.
As for medicines, you should have allergy medications, antipyretics, thermometer, motion sickness tablets, nasal drops, gastrointestinal medications, mosquito bite ointments, bandages, plasters, and cold remedies. Of course, most of the medicines can be bought at the local pharmacy, but it’s better to take care of such essentials in advance.
Download the necessary applications
Modern smartphone apps make your journey easier. For a confident journey through unfamiliar territory, use road maps with navigation – Maps.me or Google Maps. Parking finder apps like Parkopedia will quickly find the best place to park your rental car. Accommodation booking apps – Airbnb and Booking.com have great options for you anywhere in the world. XE Currency Converter and Google Translate will be also useful on your road trip.
Prepare snacks and drinks
Children may suddenly feel thirsty or hungry. Therefore, it’s best to always keep water, juices, and some non-perishable snacks ready. Try not to choose anything crunchy or very dirty, so as not to turn the salon into a cinema after the children’s session.
Prefer nuts, fruits that don’t need to be peeled for a long time. Of course, wash them beforehand. You can also take fruit purees with you in sealed containers. Put all your groceries in the beautiful lunch boxes to make kids feel like real travelers.