If the idea of boarding a plane with small children seems too hectic or stressful, but you still want to have the experience of a family vacation, consider planning a road trip. To start with, this form of travel is generally much less expensive than airfare. In fact, on average, a family of four can save about $370 just by taking a 1200-mile (600 miles each way) road trip, versus purchasing four round-trip airline tickets to the same destination.
Beyond the cost difference, family road trips can also be a whole lot more fun and memorable than flying. There are no congested terminals, security lines, flight cancelations or delays, and other inconveniences that airports are known for. Instead, there’s just an open road full of excitement, adventure, possibilities, and quality time with those you love most.
But if you are wondering how to maximize safety precautions on a road trip with small children, that’s a valid concern. When you plan to spend several hours or days in the car, it’s important to ensure that your precious cargo are as secure as possible in the backseat. So here are a few practical, actionable ways to prioritize safe travels with small children on your next road trip—whether it’s across the state line or to another side of the country.
Be Selective About which Car Seat You Choose
If your children are under the age of five and weigh 40 pounds or less, they will need to be in car seats, and if you have infants, those car seats must be rear-facing. There are many car seat models available on the market, so be sure to choose the right car seat for your own children’s specific age and size requirements. A car seat should be comfortable to travel in, easy to install, and able to fasten securely in the vehicle. To optimize your children’s comfort and safety even further, look into additional features as well, such as head supports for car seats, to prevent their heads from falling sideways or forward while asleep in the car.
Stock Your Car with Various First Aid Essentials
You can’t predict when injuries might occur on the road—or at your destination—but you can plan ahead just in case your children are hurt at any point during the vacation. Stow some first aid essentials in the vehicle, so you’re able to treat common ailments that a family member (or even you) might encounter on the trip. Think: scrapes, bruises, allergic reactions, splinters, insect bites, sunburns, joint sprains, inflammation, fevers, sore throats, and congestion, for instance. The reality is, both minor “ouchies” and serious injuries can happen at any time, so it’s crucial to make sure you have the right first response items on hand.
Try Not to Drive Too Late in the Night if Possible
It can be tempting to drive all night while there are less cars on the highway in order to reach your destination in record time without having to pull off at a hotel exit. However, this can be dangerous if you start to feel tired behind the wheel, and not only is that a risk to your own car passengers—it can also impact anyone else on the road. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that driving without adequate sleep can be just as harmful as driving under the influence. In fact, drowsiness can impair your alertness, judgment, coordination, and reaction time, all of which can increase the likelihood of a car accident.
Invest in a Roadside Assistance Protection Plan
Unfortunately, no matter how careful of a driver you are or the amount of precautions you take, sometimes road trip emergencies still take place. Aside from being in a car accident, you can also have a flat tire, run out of gas, lock the car with keys still in the ignition, or experience any number of unforeseen issues. While these situations are inconvenient and stressful for adults, they can be terrifying for small children. So to help minimize their distress in the event of a road trip emergency, invest in roadside assistance. This will give you access to expert auto solutions and interventions, so you will not be stuck on the shoulder indefinitely.
Plan a Fun and Safe Family Road Trip with Small Children this Year
If you want to create lasting memories with the whole family in 2022, a road trip is the ideal vacation for you. It’s sure to be a fun experience for adventurers of all ages—from adults to small children—and with these safety measures in place, it’s a secure form of travel as well. So strap in those car seats, turn on the radio, then hit the open road this year.