Road trips with the kids are the things of nightmares for many parents. As soon as you begin to plan a journey, you think of ways that you can get there. Any way, that is, except the car sitting in your driveway. Parents, kids, and road trips don’t always mix well, but it should hardly come as a surprise.
Extended car rides can be boring for everyone involved, and we all know how much fun bored children can be. Instead of letting your kids’ minds wander in the backseat, keep them occupied with fun activities and games. Here are some tips on keeping your children entertained in the car:
1. Activity Bags
Buy a small, child’s-sized backpack for each of your little ones. Let them pack the bag full of coloring books, crayons, activity books, and small toys. Make sure that your kids understand that their bags will be kept in the car. Alternatively, you can buy over-the-seat organizers for your children’s treasures. Keeping these kits in the car will ensure that your children always have something to do during long road trips.
You may not have bought your iPad or tablet with the thought of entertaining your children in mind, but that’s exactly what these handy little gadgets can do. If you have a tablet, no matter the brand, you can download movies, child-friendly music, eBooks, audio books, and educational games for your kids. You may want to consider requiring your children to use earbuds while using tablets to cut down on distraction. You don’t want to put your family’s safety at risk because you become enthralled in what your children are doing.
Kids get bored in the car. Challenge their minds and break the boredom. Try to come up with contests and challenges that complement what your kids are learning in school. For instance, bring along your kids’ spelling words for the week and have a spelling bee in the car. If your kids are working on learning simple multiplication in math class, bring along multiplication flash cards. Think of small awards you can give to your kids for a job well done. Stickers and small snacks make fun awards for your in-car contests.
If your kids like to create things with their hands, there are dozens of craft kits that you can choose from to keep them busy in the backseat. From making bracelets to building models, there are ways for your little ones, and your big ones, to be creative on a road trip. Make sure that you choose age-appropriate kits for your kids; you don’t want to have to remove glue from your upholstery or make a beeline for the ER because someone swallowed a bead.
5. Vacation Scrapbooks
Many road trips are taken as part of a vacation to a new or favorite destination. If this is the case for your family, buy each child a small sketchbook or scrapbook. Encourage them to keep little mementos from your trip. Your children may take pictures or keep ticket stubs or other treasures from their experience. Include a glue stick, markers, and other ephemera in each child’s scrapbook kit so that they can create as you go. By the time you return home, each child will have their very own memory book from the family’s road trip.
Kids, especially little kids, get crabby when they get hungry. When kids get crabby, they act up and are anything but pleasant to share a car with. If you don’t want to be forced to stop at every drive-thru and roadside diner that you see, keep a cooler packed with healthy snacks in the car. Chopped veggies, chunks of cheese, granola bars, yogurt, and pieces of fruit make great foods for the car. Don’t forget to bring along bottled water or your kids’ favorite juice boxes to satisfy their thirst. Make sure that you plan stops for mealtime before you leave the house. If you map out places to stop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll prevent having to search for somewhere to stop while you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Traveling with your kids doesn’t have to be a complete disaster. Map out your route, make sure that your car is road-ready, compare insurance using Monkey to ensure that you’ve got the coverage you need, and follow the tips above for keeping your kids entertained. If you do these things, this may be your best vacation ever.