Take your family road trip from notorious to glorious!
“Are we there yet? How much longer? Joey keeps touching me! I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I have to peeeee!”
Ah… Road trips with the family. Aren’t they relaxing? Traveling by car with your kids can actually be a great experience, if you plan ahead.
- Focus on learning. Kids actually like to learn but often feel that they have to protest, so expect a little whining at first. To start: grab a road trip atlas or activity book if you are traveling across state lines. Take it with you each time you travel and fill in more states each trip.
- Shop Online Ahead Of Time For Learning Materials. Even if you’re covering less ground, try the online gift shop of your final destination. They often carry fun educational materials that can be completed before you arrive. Kids will enjoy the destination more if they know something about it. You can order from the gift shop, or use it to get ideas on what to buy elsewhere. Try a site like Dover Publications to find interesting material.
- Another approach is to search online for curriculum to print. Most museums, zoos, and state or national parks have an education section. With a set of crayons, kids can be kept busy during the boring parts of the drive, and learn enough about what they are seeing to not be bored at all most of the time.
- Make your car a karaoke joint. Buy, download or even visit the library for some good, kid-friendly sing-along songs. Along with songs made for children, try oldies, folk music or soundtracks from musicals.
- Audio books are available in many formats from CDs that go in the stereo, to files that will play on a tablet or phone. Played over the car stereo, the whole family can enjoy a classic. With ear buds, each child can “read” a different book.
Don’t forget these practical road trip tips.
- Expect it to take time. Kids need to stop often, just to stretch their legs. You aren’t going to cover the miles you would with adults only.
- Ward off hunger. Stop to eat, take snacks like granola bars, dry cereal or fruit, peanut butter and crackers and plenty of water.
- Stop for bathroom breaks. You do not want to wait until it is urgent!
- Clean up as you go. Pack garbage sacks, hand sanitizer, baby wipes and napkins or paper towels so sticky hands don’t become sticky seats, and hair, and windows and… you get the idea.
- Remember the medication. Don’t let a headache, constipation, allergies or motion sickness ruin the trip. Talk to your child’s doctor about what over-the-counter or prescription medicines to keep in your travel bag for the children.
- Don’t forget cuddly comfort. Young kids need to nap, and even older ones will doze in a car. Take along a stuffed animal, blanket or even just a pillow to make the back seat feel like home.
Yes, it’s true, kids whine when they are hungry, tired, or bored. But, instead your children can be satisfied, well-rested and engaged. Plan ahead and the road trip can go from awful to awesome.