On the Road Again…
Summer is on its way which means that families will be gearing up for road trips once again. It’s time to pile everyone in the car (pets optional) and head to the cottage, to an out-of-town attraction, or off to visit relatives.
Let’s face it. In today’s economy, car travel is a great option – and the most convenient. Packing is easy. You can load up on food, clothes, sports equipment, DVDs, and bring all your favourite things with you.
But many fear the long journey trapped in a compact vehicle. And if the parents are the ones saying “Are we there yet?,” then here are some tips to make your expedition a bit saner and to help your kids ease backseat boredom. Love it or leave it, the family road trip is still the ultimate bonding experience – if you do it right!
Tips for awesome family road trips…
Tip #1 – Build some excitement with the kids by showing them your destination on a map. Draw a line so they can follow. Note any fun kid-friendly attractions on your course and make a point to stop in on the ones of interest. This will break up the monotony of the drive and kids will look forward to all kinds of surprises along the way. Side trips can be entertaining and educational – and possibly more memorable than your planned finale!
Tip #2 – When travelling, keep your daily routine as consistent as possible. Kids will be less cranky if they eat and sleep at the same times.
Tip #3 – Stash these items in your bag: a few inexpensive new toys for kids to unwrap during the journey, motion sickness medication, easy-to-transport snacks and drinks such as cereal bars and drinkable yogurt, lots of water, and a change of clothes.
Tip #4 – Take frequent breaks (especially with younger kids) to give them restroom breaks and allow them to stretch their legs. Pack a bag with essentials that will help your kids to burn off excess energy at road stops such as jump ropes, badminton rackets, a football or nerf ball, and sidewalk chalk for playing hopscotch.
Tip #5 – Pick up an inexpensive lap tray. Kids can use them to colour or work in activity books, or make small puzzles during the car trip. They can also be used as a food tray when snacking.
Tip #6 – With the right gear in hand, kids are perfectly capable of amusing themselves for hours. Bring their favourite CDs, portable video games, puzzle books, small toys, iGadgets, CD/Books (rent these from the library), but make sure each child has their own headset. Travel DVDs (again with headsets) are ideal to keep the kids quiet for a few hours. These gadgets are now completely affordable. A must is a few travel board games; these are designed to store all the parts in one place so you don’t lose them. Pieces are usually more compact for playing in the car and when you’re done playing, you can pack up very easily.
Tip #7 – Plan for some cool car games. The kids will inevitably get bored with their toys so you can liven things up by having everyone participate in car games. Create your own road scavenger hunt game. Make a list of 20 things that you will likely see on your route. Include items such as: car, truck, minivan, motorcycle, police car, fast food restaurant, farm, church, fence, bridge, gas station, cow, sheep, etc… Photocopy the page for every child, and give them a crayon. The first child to spot all the items on the list wins. For toddlers, use pictures instead of words.
And don’t forget to pack up some patience as well and you will end up with memoirs that can never be replaced!