6 Tips on How to Survive a Road Trip with Kids
Travel activities for a road trip with kids
by Kerrie McLoughlin
I’ll never forget the year my husband and I drove 22 hours one way with four small children. We were headed to Phoenix from Kansas City because my husband was working there for weeks on end, and we wanted to be able to see him every now and then! Not only that, but each weekend we would drive five more hours one way to San Diego. That is a LOT of time in the car with kids, folks, and people thought I was nuts. While that may be true, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on surviving a road trip with kids. Want to know how to keep your sanity while in the car with little ones? Read on …
Playing, reading, coloring. Each child should have his own backpack to hold favorite toys, coloring books and books to read. I like to hit a dollar store before hitting the road to buy some things that will be brand new to the kids once we get on the road. New crayons and coloring books also go a long way, as does plain white paper. Young ones love putting stickers all over a coloring book or on their car seat. Some kids love it when you read stories to them or pop in a book on tape/CD.
Travel games. Classics like the license plate or ABC game can take up some time and relieve a bit of boredom. For the license plate game, have someone keep track of which states you see license plates for. The ABC game involves starting with A and working your way through the alphabet by finding letters on anything and everything outside the car (signs, other cars, buildings, etc.). You can even play a game of car bingo.
Music. Bring along some fun music that your family enjoys. This doesn’t have to be kiddie music if that’s not what your family usually listens to. If you’re a Beatles- or disco-loving family, bring all the CDs you can find! I’ll never forget my Sony Walkman and the hours of entertainment it would provide while driving from Kansas to Colorado with my parents when I was a teen. But that was the old days! These days, older kids might like to have their own MP3 player stocked with favorite songs so they can listen to what they want without disturbing anyone else.
Eating/drinking. Having some healthy snacks and drinks readily available is good for many miles of kid happiness. I just discovered those pouches of applesauce and baby food-like fruits and veggies and ALL my kids loved them on the road. Sugarless gum is good (depending on the ages of your kids) if you’ll be driving in the mountains. Juice boxes without a lot of sugar are great, as are items like string cheese, cracker creations (a cracker with cheese, lunch meat and a veggie on top) and low-sugar granola bars.
Watching a movie. My husband is one of those TV-haters, but when we drove from Kansas City to Wyoming with five kids recently, you can bet he was happy that I had sprung for a portable DVD player with two screens! We were actually able to have a conversation, and it was something for the kids to look forward to (one movie per travel day is our rule because we are big meanies!).
Whatever you do, please try to stop every couple of hours so the kids can run off some of that pent-up energy. Maybe after running wild for a little bit, they might even take a nap. A parent can hope!
Kerrie McLoughlin blogs at TheKerrieShow.com and would love to have you visit her there.