Taking road trips longer than 30 minutes with the entire family can be very challenging, especially when there are younger kids on board. Depending on the age of the children, road trips have the potential of causing several headaches for parents. Whether it’s young children craving attention, or older kids wanting to be entertained, additional planning is oftentimes incredibly crucial to ensuring a low-stress – stress-free trip. Though traveling to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is a road trip that families from all over the United States love to take, it can unfortunately create several high-stress situations for parents. Fortunately for your convenience, the list below has been compiled with several family vacation tips for families visiting the Smoky Mountains.
Family Tips for Parents
If you are stressed and in a hurry, it will be difficult for your kids to enjoy their time and your company. When things go not according to plan, it is not the end of the world. Going with the flow is always the best solution while on vacation and it will allow everyone around you to remain relaxed as well!
2. Take the Right Car
Consider all the benefits of renting a car when planning your trip. Renting a car will alleviate potential wear and tear and your car created by the mountains and rough terrain in the Smoky Mountains. A rental car could also add a few amenities that will make your kids ride a little more enjoyable so the extra money might be worth it!
3. Extra Toiletries
Inevitably, someone is bound to forget their deodorant or tooth brush so it is always a good idea to bring along some extras just in case!
4. Short Breaks
Just as it is often a suggestion on long car rides, it is crucial to make stops along the way and get out of the car for a stretch. Hit up those vista points if you happen to be driving by!
With a GPS, you will be equipped with the convenience of searching for local gas stations, restaurants, and other establishments without having to stop and ask for directions.
6. Keep the Belly Happy
I often load up on junk food on road trips because it’s what I consider “road trip food.” However, if you have the chance to plan ahead, pack some good stuff in there too, like fruits (fresh and dry), nuts and jerky! Staying hydrated is also important. Sure, it sucks having to stop so many times for a pee break, but you’re giving your body what it needs – hydration and excuses to get up for a stretch.
7. Get Comfy
I’m not the type to put my feet up on the dashboard (EWW!), but I do like to take my shoes and socks off and curl up in a blanket. Of course, this mostly applies to the passenger. For the driver, perhaps a cushion or neck pillow? Sitting for a long ride can strain the back!
Tips for Younger Children
1. Extra Necessities
Make sure to pack extra baby wipes, diapers, snacks, medicines, etc. You can never be too prepared!
2. Car Games
This is a must for all families taking road trips. Simple car games can help occupy large chunks of time. Some classic car games include 20 questions, the license plate game (finding all 50 states), or I spy.
3. Leave at the Right Time
Strategically plan your departure time around your kids nap schedule to better guarantee smooth sailing.
4. TV/DVD Player
No parents likes to admit that they take advantage of the electronic baby sitter, but it is incredibly effective in keeping the kids entertained and happy on those long rides.
5. Baby Proofing
Take into account the accommodations of your cabin rental while visiting Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.
6. Don’t Forget the Toys
Choosing the right books and toys to bring along can create some distractions in the car and help in creating a comfortable and familiar environment for the youngsters in your cabin rental.
7. Get in the backseat
A little face-to-face contact, some patty-cake, and a few tickling games go a long way toward distracting a cranky baby or a bored toddler.
8. Drive at Night
This will definitely help, especially if your kids are younger. We used to do this when our kids were the 2-and-under set, and it made for a more peaceful experience. Keeping babies or toddlers occupied for even a couple hours at a time is never easy. “Sleeping children meant my husband and I actually had uninterrupted conversations, which in our busy life is rare, and was much appreciated,”.
Tips for Young Teens
1. Portable Electronics
Teens typically do a great job with entertaining themselves, but just in case of emergency bring along some portable electronics along with their batteries or chargers.
2. Put Them in Charge
Give the older kids a sense of responsibility by assigning them various tasks throughout the trip. Whether it be copiloting or rallying the family for activities, giving them tasks will occupy their time and give them a sense of importance.
Collecting flyers from various local attractions and restaurants can give the older kids something to look at and give additional ideas for things to do while enjoying your stay in the beautiful Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area!