Foolproof Your Family Road Trip
If you are planning a family road trip, but the mere thought of being trapped in the car with kids for hours upon hours is a bit nerve-racking, you may want to make some preparations. Traveling with kids can be exciting if you come up with an anti-boredom, kid friendly plan. With a little planning, your road trip can be a fun event for everyone.
Make the trip fun with travel games
Every parent should do their best to make the trip fun. If children are enjoying their time in the car, adults are less likely to hear the proverbial question, “Are we there yet?”. Road games are a fun way to get the whole family involved.
The Alphabet Game: Starting with the letter A, search billboards, license plates, signs, etc. to find each letter A-Z. There are no losers and everyone can participate, as long as they know the alphabet.
I Spy: Use the color or the first letter of the object as a hint. Whoever guesses correct goes next.
License Plate Game – See how many different states you can identify. Name something associated with each state.
Bring a goody bag
Allow children to bring a backpack that is filled with items to keep them busy, such as a portable CD player, handheld games, books, paper, colored pencils, crossword puzzles, etc. You can even sneak in a surprise package ahead of time for them to open during the ride. The surprise could be something as simple as a favorite snack or a travel toy. Preventing boredom is the key to success, but it isn’t necessary to pack along the entire household to keep children entertained. Keep backpacks light, as they will be easily accessible when it’s time to put things away and children will have room for new souvenirs.
Make a road trip CD
Let’s face it, not everyone in the family will have the same taste in music, but making a CD for the family to enjoy while traveling can be entertaining. There are many music sites on the web where you can choose exactly which songs you want to download. Try to select classic tunes that everyone will love and burn them on a custom made road trip CD. It’s okay to choose themes, such as favorite Christmas tunes, Summertime songs, or songs about traveling. It’s not okay to share your passion for polka or to introduce your children to the greats of Big Band / Swing.
Consider a Portable DVD Player
Parents may also want to consider bringing along a Portable DVD player. Prices for Portable DVD players have decreased significantly the past few years due to popularity. Prices start around $125. Watching movies may help excited children wind down, while giving parents a much needed break from an endless rendition of John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt. Before you begin your trip, you may want to consider buying a special movie that the kids have anticipated for a while. They will be more interested in seeing something new, rather than a movie they have watched 100 times. However, this isn’t the time to buy the “I Love Lucy” box collection. Just because you enjoy it, don’t expect the kids to like it. Bring only what you know will hold their attention. Headphones are an added bonus, as it allows parents time for uninterrupted, quiet conversation.
Plan frequent stops
When traveling with kids, you should plan to stop frequently. This is a good time to stop for meals / snacks or to refuel the car. Make sure everyone gets out to stretch. It’s amazing how rejuvenated you feel after getting a little fresh air. This is also a good time to restock drinks. Encourage children to choose healthy drinks, such as juice or water, to stay hydrated for the trip.
Comfort is essential
Try to make the trip as comfortable as possible. You may want to consider bringing a small pillow and lap blanket for each child. Make sure children are dressed in comfy clothes, so they will be able to relax during the ride. If you are planning a nine hour trip from Omaha to Tulsa, don’t dress your little ones in their Sunday best to meet Aunt Gertrude for the first time. In the end, they will be less cranky, which might possibly make Aunt Gertrude’s kisses seem less icky.
Dealing with motion sickness
If a child suffers from motion sickness, try to seat him in the middle of the backseat, where he will have a clear view out the window. Limit activities such as reading or playing portable game players that will prevent the child from focusing on a point outside of the car. It may also help to open the window for fresh air. Although fast food is often a staple of car travel cuisine, try to avoid greasy foods that will upset little tummies. Bring along hand wipes and a disposable plastic bowl with a lid in case of an emergency.
Be sure to keep your plan flexible when traveling with children, as things won’t always go as planned. If you take time to prepare, your family road trip will be a success and the memories will last a lifetime.