When embarking on a road trip with kids, it is important to take along things to do on the way. You don’t have to, but keeping the peace all the while keeping the kids entertained in the car can make the difference between fun family trip and car ride nightmare. Here are some ideas for traveling with kids to keep everyone happy and entertained.
• Pack a bag or tote that is easily accessible with car craft supplies. Fill it with things such as blank paper, aluminum foil, pipe cleaners, uninflated balloons, washable markers, stickers, and crayons. The sky is the limit depending on the size of the tote. At each pit stop, let the children choose one or two items to play with until the next pit stop.
• Use a three ring binder and fill with blank paper covered in sheet protectors. Dry erase markers work like a charm and projects can be wiped clean for something new including games of tic-tac-toe and hangman.
• Take one cookie sheet per child that can be stored under a seat or in the seat pocket. These can be used as craft tables, snack trays, and coloring tables that are easily stored away when not being used.
• Bring plenty of snacks. A hungry child is not a happy child, and hunger pains are not always had at a convenient meal time. Pack a variety of salty and sweet healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, granola bars, pretzels, and crackers. For each ‘milestone’ such as every 200 miles, 1 hour, or landmark, provide a treat such as a small piece of candy for good behavior. Don’t forget drinks, too!
• With all of the snacking and drinking, pit stops are essential. Make the most of each stop by requiring all non-sleeping children to get out of the car and at the very least do some stretching. Many rest stops offer play areas that are worth taking advantage of for burning off quick bursts of energy.
• Pack a small blanket for each child that can double as a head rest or pillow.
• If you are spending the night at a hotel along the way, put everyone’s overnight gear and a change of clothing into one bag. Even if you are not stopping, the change of clothing can be handy for accidental spills or messes.
• Be sure to bring hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing wipes and some paper towels. When heading out onto the open road, running water and soap are not necessarily guaranteed.
• If you plan to be traveling after dark, a package of glow sticks can help to keep kids occupied.
By preparing for your road trip, including activities and things that happen along the way, you can ward off the dreaded “are we there yet?” and maybe even have some fun on the way to your final destination.