Tips for Surviving Road Trips With Kids
Schools out and the vacation calendars are filling up. Tis the season for family vacations and sometimes this means...the dreaded road trip. We were all children once, and we all have those not-so distant memories of being squeezed into the family car with mom, dad, brothers and sisters. I mean I can hear it now, my one brother on my left, spitting on my lap as he plays with his action characters, making infamous army sounds. My other brother on my right is leaning on me, which leaves me no option other than to squeal to my parents, "Kevin's touching ME!!" We would probably make it 60 miles before my mom or dad would threaten to turn the car around, or worse, leave us on the side of the road. We were all left thinking, "Are we there yet?"
These thoughts make me chuckle now, but I'd personally rather not have to repeat those threats to my kids (who am I kidding?). Besides, road travel has changed in the past 10 years. These days with mobile DVD players, tablets and cell phones, our children have constant entertainments at the tip of their fingers. In fact, left to their own devices (literally) you may not hear a peep out of them for several hours or maybe the entire trip. But all this comes at a cost. As parents we all know that too much screen time isn't good for a child's brain and don't we want the road trip to be a fun and memorable time with the kids? Yes! Below are just a few tips to help make your next road trip a little easier:
Plan. Plan. Plan
Have a route in mind, organized with possible rest stops, restaurants, or parks along the way. Even researching local areas for museums or points of interest can be fun and interesting. After sitting for a couple hours, kids are eager to stretch and burn off a little energy. Remember to be realistic with your driving time and flexible to the needs of your family, making stops if necessary.
Don't Forget the Snacks and Water Bottles
It might be a good idea to have some healthy, easy snacks on hand to tie the kids over until the next meal. Granola bars, peanut butter crackers, or pretzels are all good choices. And don't forget the reusable water bottles, which can easily be filled up at any restaurant or convenience store. Sure saves money and time!
Pack an Activity Bag
Search online and you can find car bingo, crossword puzzles or word finds that can all be printed off for free. Don't forget the clip boards (I can sometimes find them in the dollar section at area stores), which will definitely come in handy. In addition, surf Pinterest and you'll find a slew of car-friendly craft ideas; beads for jewelry making (organized in bento boxes for easy distribution) and origami paper with instructions. I love Crayola's Color Wonder coloring books and markers. They're super easy and mess-free for the little ones who can't resist drawing on their car seats.
Don't Forget to Have Fun
Remember those old car games and silly songs? Cave into nostalgia and teach them to your kids. Playing the license plate game, I Spy, and singing 100 Bottles of Milk on the Wall are all fun ways to pass the next several miles. Give the kids something to look forward to and plan a half way location to stop for ice cream or a special treat at the gas station.
With a little preplanning, loads of patience, and lots of laughs your road trip is sure to be a success and a memory your kids will talk about for years to come.
For more ideas on family activities: