Route 66 is one of the most famous and well-traveled routes in the country, and arguably the world. This 2,400-mile road starts in Chicago and takes you all the way to California’s Santa Monica (or the other way around—depending on which way you’re going). However, many people don’t realize that today, this route can be a great family-friendly trip—if you know how to do it. Not only does it offer the perfect opportunity for family bonding time, but can also teach everyone plenty about travel and planning. Here are five tips for traveling Route 66 with kids:
Map Out Your Journey
If you were to continuously drive, Route 66 would take two weeks to finish. However, with children, you’ll want to make several stops, especially overnight. There are several ways to travel through Route 66, so it’s important that you think about which is best for your family. To make the best itinerary possible, it’s best to purchase a large map of Route 66 and get to researching. Calculate how long it will take you to get from place to place, and don’t forget to factor in overnight stays. Road trip planning platforms like Furkot and Roadtrippers make this fun and easy to do.
Choose the Right Attractions
With so many miles to go, there are plenty of kid-friendly attractions. You should do your research to pinpoint which are best for your kids, depending on their age and personal preferences. Additionally, you should show your kids pictures of some of the attractions to help get them in on the planning process and feeling involved. For example, perhaps you could create a Pinterest board and show them online. Here are some ideas for what attractions to stop at:
- Grand Canyon
- Californian Needles
- Cars On the Route
- The Heritage Park in Sapula
- Meramec Caverns
- Blue Whale of Catoosa
- Meow Wolf
- Oklahoma Science Museum
Don’t Forget About Food
There are over 1,500 fast-food stops along Route 66. And while that’s plenty of food options to go around, you most likely don’t want to fill your kids with junk. Pack healthy travel snacks ahead of time to ensure they’re always getting something that’s good for their digestive systems. And don’t forget about packing vitamins, too. As you work on your itinerary, consider the places you can stop for food. While the bulk of options will indeed be fast food choices, there are still several non-fast food options you can take advantage of.
Pay Attention to Packing
We’ve already mentioned packing some healthy snacks for lengthy road trips, but there are plenty of other must-haves you should keep in mind, too. As you know, having kids in the car for a long time can lead to boredom fast—and boredom leads to crankiness. To help avoid tantrums and uneasiness, don’t forget about in-car entertainment.
This includes everything from games to electronic devices to books. Download games and movies on your device to avoid bad service in some areas. You should also purchase portable chargers for when devices run out of battery. Other essentials include a first aid kit, medicines/medications, and a to-go bag that’s always packed with an extra pair of clothes and underwear, in case of any emergencies.
Practice Safe Driving
With long road trips, safe driving is one of the most important areas you can enforce. Of course, the most basic safe driving tips apply: making sure everyone is wearing their seatbelts, paying attention to other drivers, staying a safe distance away, not driving over the speed limit, etc. But when you’re making a long-distance road trip through routes like this, it’s easy to get tired and skip out on a rule a bit. However, it’s imperative that you remain focused.
There are preventative measures you can take, too. According to LaMarca Law Group, a Des Moines drunk driver accident attorney, “While there’s no foolproof way to protect yourself against a drunk driver, there are some steps you can take to lessen the chances of having a bad accident. For instance, try to avoid driving at night, where you’re more likely to have a run-in with a drunk driver, and be extra cautious at intersections.”
Furthermore, consider investing in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to take your safety a step further. These systems are designed to help you stay safe on the road by alerting you when you’re over the speed limit, when another driver is in danger or moving too quickly into your lane, or when any vehicle is in dangerously close proximity to you. It also has the capability to predict a potential collision based on pieces of live data it collects across cameras and sensors. Many of today’s newer vehicles are equipped with these systems, but you can also purchase them independently.