I recently watched the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul with my kids. The movie follows the Heffly family as they go on a family road trip to visit their MeeMaw.
The movie reminded me of the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie with Chevy Chase, except it is a much cleaner, PG version. You know the plot—family goes on a road trip and shenanigans ensue. My favorite line in the movie is when the teenage son asks his parents, “When did you guys stop being fun?”
Besides being a light-hearted movie to watch with your travel-loving kids, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul movie teaches some important lessons about road trips.
#1 Don’t Overpack
As the Heffly family discovered, a car is not comfortable if it’s overstuffed. There is no need to pack a drum set, roller blades, water table or a wagon full of stuffed animals. Let the kids bring a few small toys, and if necessary agree to buy a new one at your destination for the way home. If you will be staying with family members who have a washer and dryer, pack light and just plan to wash a load or two on your trip.
If you decide to take extra storage, make sure it’s securely attached to your vehicle so that your stuff doesn’t spill out all over the highway. Yikes!
#2 Talk about Road Trip Rules and Expectations Beforehand
In the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul movie, the mom decided after already leaving that no phones or electronic devices would be allowed on vacation. The boys (and the dad!) were very upset. If they would have known that rule ahead of time, they could have been more prepared.
#3 Research Hotel Reviews in Advance
Don’t end up in a hotel room with cockroaches and a disgusting bathroom! Read reviews on TripAdvisor and make a reservation at a decent hotel along the way.
#4 Plan Ahead for Bathroom Breaks
Nobody wants to pee in a bottle inside a moving car (I hope!) If you have kids, make sure they all try to go to the bathroom when you stop. If one doesn’t, you’ll just be stopping in another 30 minutes. Also, consider bringing a portable kids’ potty in the car. That has saved my family numerous times when my kids were younger!
#5 Monitor Traffic Apps for Alternate Routes
Reduce the odds that you will be stuck in a traffic jam by using an app that alerts you to accidents and slow-downs. Waze and Google Maps are helpful for suggesting alternate routes. Any time we head on I35 in Texas, we rely on this info to see if we need to exit on country roads to get there faster.
#6 Don’t Travel With a Pet Pig, and #7 Don’t Feed Birds from Inside the Car.
You’ll have to read the book or watch the movie to see what happens when you don’t follow those two rules!
What are your tips for road trips with kids? If you have a road trip coming up, I hope it goes smoother than the Heffly’s journey! Safe travels.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.