Going on a road trip with children can be a great experience if you do it right; and if you dont, it can turn into a total disaster. So here are a few tips on enjoying your next road trip.
Planning is essential. Before you leave, print out activities for the children to do while in the car. Let them get involved with the planning. What would they like to see and do? Find parks and historic sites and other attractions in advance.
Write interesting facts about major cities you will be going through, put them in an envelope, and when you get to that city take turns opening the envelopes and reading about the city you’re visiting. Print out a map for your children so they can see how far you have gone and how far it is to get to the next stop. Put a mark about every 150 miles (which would also be a good place to make a stop).
When you stop, have something planned. You could find a park or a rest area and throw a frisbee or ball to get some of that built-up energy out or have a picnic and enjoy being out of the car for a little while. On each of your stops, try to pick up a small item you can keep in a box. Write where you got it and a little something about it. Get postcards and mail to friends and family or keep them in your box. When you look at it later, you will have fun remembering your trip.
Have a (loose) routine. Scheduled stops, naptime, sing-a-long time, games you can play in the car, and time for electronic devices are all great ideas.
If you have a relaxed schedule such as when to stop, naptime, sing-a-long time, playing games in the car and using electronic devices, the kids will know what to expect. Set a time limit on each of these. Stopping to eat might take an hour (depending on where you eat), naptime could take an hour or two, sing-a-longs might last a half an hour before they get bored with them. Playing games might last a half an hour, and using electronic devices will keep everyone busy for a while. (Don’t forget the chargers!)
Games will keep everyone entertained. You can play lots of games in the car! Everyone loves BINGO, so print out bingo sheets with clip art of things you might see on your trip. The first person to get bingo wins!
How about the license plate game? Print out a sheet with all the states names on it in alphabetical order. When you see a vehicle from a state check it off. Whoever gets the most in an agreed upon time wins. I Spy is fun to play, too. Spot Bananas is a game that might keep your mind off the long drive. You can use a piece of paper to keep your score. Everytime you spot a yellow vehicle, you get a set amount of points. Yellow trucks are worth 15 points, cars are worth 10 points, and busses are worth 5 points.
Pack healthy snacks (fruit, nuts, veggies) and bottled water. Bring some wipes along for messes in the car. A CD would be fun to sing along with. Audiobooks, tablets, iPhones, coloring books and crayons, a journal, and a disposable camera all would help make the trip go by faster. Your first trip should be no longer than 500 miles stretched out over a few days. If it is too long, nobody will want to take another trip for a long time!
Most importantly, GO WITH THE FLOW. Remember, this is a family trip and everyone should enjoy it. Family trips are about making memories!