Long distance car travel with kids can be a challenge. To make car trips easier, you will want to make sure to:
If you've ever taken a road trip with kids, then you know that car travel with kids isn't always easy. Even short trips around town can sometimes be enough to try a parent's patience. You should be glad to know that with a little creativity, organization, and advance planning, you can make time in the car with kids go much more smoothly.
For longer trips, the first rule of thumb is to take breaks every couple of hours. While you might want to reach your destination as quickly as possible, it's worth the little bit of extra time to avoid cranky, whiny kids. Kids (and parents!) should get out of the car, stretch their legs, and take a bathroom break about every two hours. Breaks are also a good time to have a sit down meal together as a family before heading back out on the road.
Breaks don't have to be just rest stops and restaurants. You can plan fun activities along the way that will help kids get their wiggles out. Some ideas include stopping to play at a park, walking a trail, or even going swimming, playing miniature golf, or visiting an amusement park.
Car travel with kids is far easier without rumbly tummies. Even if you've taken adequate rest breaks and ensured that your kids are eating meals on the road, the inevitable "Mommy, I'm still hungry" is bound to happen. Pack healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, veggies, whole grain crackers, and juice. For longer road trips, consider packing a cooler with a greater selection of snacks.
Kids elementary school age and younger can be kept content for hours with a good travel art kit. Consider putting together a tote bag for each child with picture books, pencils, crayons, stickers, activity books, construction paper, tape, and scissors. It should go without saying that overly messy supplies – like glue and glitter, for example – aren't great choices for a car trip. Make sure the supplies you include are appropriate for your kid's age. You don't want your car to need re-upholstering by the time the trip is over!
For older kids, educational games can be a good way to keep occupied. Games like "I spy" can be played without buying anything, and you can buy inexpensive car bingo games too. You can even print free car bingo game cards online. Here's a site that offers free car bingo game cards you can download http://www.momsminivan.com/printables.html.
Maps are also a fun way for kids to follow along as the trip progresses.
While we all know that too much TV is not good for kids, a portable DVD player can be an excellent tool for car travel with kids. When your patience is at its limit and you just don't want to play referee anymore, a DVD can provide a welcome distraction. iPods, CD players, and hand held games can also keep kids occupied. Older kids who can read chapter books can also take along a 'real' book to read.
There's no shortage of ideas for making car travel with kids easier. In addition to using these ideas to keep kids occupied, make sure that both you and the kids start out any road trip well rested. Take along fun activities – and a double dose of patience – and you'll arrive at your destination unscathed.