What Time to Leave on a Road Trip?

What Time to Leave on a Road Trip?


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Early, late, or mid-day. What’s the best time to leave for a long road trip?

Taking a vacation with kids is a lot of work. It’s certainly not going to be the same as taking a vacation without them - it won’t be nearly as relaxing as you would have otherwise. Depending on where you’re going and what you’re planning to do, it may actually be more stressful. Regardless, planning and taking a vacation with kids is a completely different experience then going on your own.

If you’re driving for your vacation, then you should make sure you’re ready for what that will entail. Being stuck in the car with a kid who is screaming the whole time is not a fun experience at all. While you’ll likely experience periods of screaming and whining, that doesn’t mean it will be like that the whole time. Make sure you review our guide for driving with kids before you take off on the long drive.

One question that many parents wonder about is what time they should leave for a driving vacation. Do you leave first thing in the morning? Take off right after lunch? Or wait until night time so that the kids will fall asleep? All of these times have pros and cons - some are better than others depending on both the child and the parent. There’s only one wrong time to leave and that’s when you can’t stay awake.

Do not try to drive if you’re too tired to do so. You’d be putting your life, the life of your family and the life of other drivers at risk. While it’s nice to get to your destination without having to deal with a kid that is screaming the whole time, it’s even nicer to actually get there. If you’re not a person who does well late at night, then don’t plan to leave late at night - it will only be a bad idea.

Our favorite time of the day to leave is super early in the morning for any vacation. However, I’m also a person that wakes up at 5AM every morning as is, so going to bed a couple of hours earlier the night before and then taking off a couple of hours before that works out well. The family sleeps while I drive, and as everyone starts to wake up, we are already well on our way to our destination.

Another great option is to leave about an hour or so before a child generally takes a nap. Rather than leaving right at nap time, you give yourself a bit of a buffer to let your child get their feet under them and then fall asleep. The first hour is generally the easiest, so you gain the easiest hour with them in the car, and then you get them to fall asleep (hopefully quickly) for the next little bit of the drive.

Driving overnight can also be a great option, but as mentioned before, make sure you’re awake for it. Some people are great at night and have no problem staying awake. If you’re such a person, then an overnight drive can be a great option to get somewhere more quickly (and quietly) than you would otherwise. Leave a couple of hours before normal bedtime for your child, and then let them fall asleep when they’re able.

The best time to leave on your driving vacation is the time when you can be safe. From there, figure out when you can get the most sleep time out of your kids and plan around that. Be safe and enjoy.


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