My preferred mode of transportation is by airplane, even with a three year old, but recently I had to pack up the car and drive across the desert to Arizona. Round trip was 16 long treacherous hours. I can think of about 936 things I would rather do that road trip for that long.
Now, if we could have taken our time and stopped a lot more along the way, seen the sights, sure. But a straight 8 hour drive? No thanks. That’s a lot for an adult, but it’s an eternity for a child.
This wasn’t my son’s first road trip and I have definitely learned a thing or two since our last one:
- Get children involved in the planning process early, both by explaining where you are going, how long it will take and which route will be driven. If children are older, they may have a stop request, something or someone they would like to see along the way.
- Make sure to pack all (within reason and space allotment of course) of your child’s favorite comfort items, such as a pillow, blanket or stuffed animal.
- Timing is everything, so try to plan the bulk of your drive during nap or bedtime and if it’s during bedtime, let your child travel in the comfort of his pajamas.
- Engaging from the moment you pull out of the drive way will bank you some quiet time in the long run. Play a game of “I Spy”, the classic Slug Bug (where you get to playfully punch your neighbor(s) and yell, “Slug Bug!” every time a Volkswagen Beetle is spotted) or count out of state license plates.
- Make frequent rest stops. I highly suggest getting an app such as Playground Finder or when you want to really take a break and enjoy nature, have a picnic or take a hike, Oh, Ranger ParkFinder. Both are free.
- Kid-friendly in-vehicle entertainment in the form of books, an iPad loaded with favorite games, puzzles apps, DVDs and music are a MUST. Headphones are optional. Hey, family sing-alongs can be fun, even if you can’t carry a tune to save your life.
- Traveling by car does not have to mean every meal is of the fast food, drive-thru, combo, crap variety. Pack a cooler with yummy, healthy snacks that are easy to enjoy while on-the-go. Cheese, yogurt and carrot sticks, reuseable bags filled with nuts, raisins, cut up fruit and homemade sandwiches and cookies are some of our favorites. Don’t forget to pack a couple of garbage bags and paper towels, too!
- On the About.com website, I saw this great idea, which I plan to implement once our son is a little older:
Before you embark on your journey, write down a set of car rules. Keep hands to yourselfÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Use a quiet voiceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Clean up your trashÃ¢â‚¬Â¦are just a few simple rules. A lack of rules invites misbehavior. One of our favorite techniques is what we called “dime fines.” Each child starts the trip with a roll of dimes. Each time there was a violation of the rules, the children involved put a dime into a jar we brought along. What they had at the end of each leg of the trip, they could spend. It was kind of a fun motivation to keep the peace and obey the rules.
Any road trip tips you’d like to share?
Photo credit: nathangibbs