Rules of the road trip

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Summer is a popular time for travel, especially road trips. While traveling with children can present challenges, with some planning and creativity family road trips can be a pleasant experience for all. Here are some tips for car travel this summer.

Safety first. Before leaving on a road trip, review car safety seat and child restraint information to ensure you’re in compliance with the current guidelines and state laws. Fire departments have trained personnel who can check to make sure your car seat is properly installed. Call to find out if your local station offers this service.

Map out rest stops. Long car trips mean lots of sitting. It’s important for everyone to get out of the car and stretch their legs, so plan frequent breaks. If you’re traveling with toddlers or school-age children, perhaps check a smartphone map to find rest stops where children can run and play for a few minutes.

Pack snacks and plenty of water. While convenience store snacking is tempting, choose the healthier route by packing wholesome snacks. Fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese and whole grain crackers, granola bars, and trail mix are good options. Stock a cooler with water to keep everyone hydrated.

Don’t forget the fun. To fight the boredom that often accompanies road trips, bring age-appropriate games and activities for kids to pass the time. While tablets and smartphones are popular, limit screen time in the car as you would at home and consider travel-friendly games, coloring and activity books, and crafts, too.

Outsmart the sun. While not essential when riding in a car, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must for summer vacations if children will be spending time outdoors. Wearing sunglasses – even at a young age – protects against the development of cataracts later in life, and sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer.

Mary Brunner MD

Author of this Article

Mary Brunner, MD, specializes in pediatrics. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Pediatrics, 1650 W. Oak St., Ste. 210, in Zionsville. She can be reached by calling the office at 317.873.8855.

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