Does a family road trip sound more like work than fun? Before you ditch your plans completely, check out our tips for smoothing over the bumps of traveling by car with kids. We'll show you how to stay safe and sane while hitting the road — whether you're planning a long-distance journey or a nearby trip to DFW's many attractions.
- Ready your ride. Check off all three parts of this important tip and you'll be ruling the road in no time.
- Pre-check: Make sure tires are in good condition and inflated properly, have the brakes inspected, top off oil, engine coolant and windshield wiper fluid and fill the gas tank. You want all systems ready to go before departure.
- Onboard safety: Fill a duffle bag or crate with emergency supplies, including tools, a flashlight, extra oil and coolant, a first-aid kit, bottled water and more. Check out the Department of Homeland Security's full list.
- Passenger comfort: Phone and tablet chargers, check. Blankies, pillows, binkys and stuffed animals, check. Snacks and drinks, check. Music, directions, sunglasses, car games and toys, diaper bags, wet wipes, paper towels, trash bags, check. Forgot something? Don't panic — pick it up on the way.
- Don't drive distracted. Distracted driving is the new drunk driving, and is becoming more frequent. While you're (silently) fuming at drivers who are texting, talking, eating or just plain not paying attention, don't forget that you have potential distractions in the backseat. Make sure kids are in proper car seats for their ages, are belted in securely, have their own space to avoid fighting over territory and have enough water, healthy snacks, movies, music (with headphones) and other activities to keep them hydrated, happy and occupied.
- Expect an emergency. But only in the sense of being prepared if one does happen. Pack medications in their original bottles, have insurance cards handy and know how to get the most out of a trip to the ER.
- Plan for play. Texas has some great rest stops (and who doesn't love Buc-ee's?), but spending lunchtime exploring an unfamiliar park in a new city can be so much better — especially for burning off excess energy and finding new Pokemon. You can plan your stops ahead of time or have your navigator locate places on the go. Stay safe by keeping kids in sight at all times, making sure they have proper footwear for the activities they'll be doing, and never, ever leaving them alone in a car.
- Summer smart. That big yellow fireball in the sky may be winding down in other parts of the country, but here in Texas it's still hanging around. A bad sunburn can completely ruin your children's' vacation and their mood, so decrease your risk of sunburn and skin cancer by applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher regularly, staying in the shade when possible, wearing UV protective clothing and donning sunglasses and hats. The heat also means mosquitos are still active, so protect your family from mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika and West Nile by applying insect repellent containing DEET.
- Bonus tip: Apply sunscreen first, then insect repellent. Don't spray directly in children's faces; spray in your hands and then apply.
We hope you have a safe, memorable family road trip, but if things don't go as planned, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
Find a fast Medical City ER near you.