Summer is usually the time when families take vacations. The kids are out of school, the weather is usually pleasant â€“ itâ€™s a great time to hop in the car and begin an adventure.
Sometimes the adventure is just in getting where you are going without losing your mind. Long car trips can bring out the very worst behavior in both children and adults â€“ but for different reasons.
A little planning ahead and some ideas for occupying your energetic offspring can make the difference between a vacation full of great memories and the car trip from hell.
Momâ€™s Survival Kit
Pack a tote bag to keep the essentials in. The bag doesnâ€™t have to be very big, but try to fill it with items that will make the trip less stressful.
- Baby wipes are great for sticky hands and faces
- Hand cleaner â€“ just in case
- Bandages and a small first aid kit
- A roll of toilet paper â€“ donâ€™t you hate getting to a rest stop and finding out that there is no toilet paper on the entire property?
- Change for vending machines
If you have a small child, it is a good idea to put a potty chair in the trunk. Generally, when they have to go you are in the middle of a long stretch of road with no exits for miles.
Pack a Backpack
Once your regular packing is done pack a backpack for each child. Add a small pack of crayons, drawing paper, a few favorite books, a water bottle, and a snack. Once you have the basics in there, add a few surprises.
Wrap a small travel game, a new book, and a few snack items individually in wrapping paper. Attach a tag with a time on it. Tell your child that he can have any unwrapped item at any time he wishes but must only take a wrapped item at the designated time. Try to have enough surprises that he can open one about every two to three hours.
Handheld games can keep children busy but they can also cause arguments over whose turn it is. Keep the handhelds in your tote bag and when you decide to let them play with it, set the alarm on your phone for 3o minutes. When the alarm goes off, the next person gets the game. Once everyone has had a turn, take the game back and put it away.
Stop and Stretch
About every two or three hours, stop the car and let everyone get out and stretch. If you can find a rest stop with a picnic area, play Simon Says, have the kids run races for a few minutes, or throw a Frisbee. Itâ€™s important for them to get a chance to get rid of excess energy and it will help them sit still when you get back in the car.
Travel at Night
If it is at all possible, do the longest part of your trip at night, or leave in the earliest hours of the morning. You will give yourself a good six hours or more of quiet â€“ and the kids wonâ€™t have time to get bored.
photo credit: merfam