Traveling with kids can be stressful, and exhausting. You are tired from packing and organizing, they are bored and restless… Traveling is something a lot of parents dread, but it doesn’t have to end up being a nightmarish memory for years to come. We all love our kids, and they are precious, but its so hard for them (and us) to sit still for such a long time! So, I have come up with a list of what we personally use and employ to save our own sanity and make traveling a bit easier. To be honest, we love going on road trips with our kids. We have lots of great conversations and just enjoy being together. These tips help make that happen.
Here are a few tips to make the trip a little more enjoyable for all included.
1. Give them a visual aide. Print out a picture of a car, preferably similar to yours, and laminate it. On the back hot glue a piece of Velcro. The clingy side. You can stick this to the inside roof of your car on the far side, preferably behind the drivers seat. As you travel, the mini car does too. Every few hours move the car a little ways toward the other side of roof, until it hits the other end the same time you arrive at your destination. It really helps children to be able to “see” how far they have come and how far they have to go.
2. Eat your lunch (whether packed or bought) at a park or a rest station and let the kids run like crazy.
3. EVERY time you stop for gas have everyone go inside and use the facilities. This will decrease the multitude of “I need to go to the bathroom” complaints – right after you stopped! (Don’t tell me you’ve never had this one happen!) This also gives everyone a brief but welcome leg stretch, backside break, and gets the blood flowing. I find we can go longer stretches when I make sure to drag everyone in with me, every time. It can admittedly be a pain, but its worth it.
4. If you have time, take it easy, making stops to see landmarks and sites of interest.
5. Audiobooks are so entertaining! You can find so many wonderful kids books on CD at the Library.
6. Pillows and blankets make it cozy and inviting to encourage sleep.
7. Give each child their own water bottle and keep a filled gallon jug handy for refills.
8. Go to the dollar store and fill a small bag with things you know your kids will like. Every few hours surprise them by pulling something from the bag and giving it to them. Kids love inexpensive whatnots from the Dollar store and the ‘new‘ will keep them occupied for a while longer.
9. Books, travel games, sticker books, and coloring books are handy. Find some new-to-you books at the Library, and while you are there look for travel friendly games. They will probably have a few.
10. Snacks are always a good option. Apples already sliced, cheese sticks, raisins, oranges, jerky, carrot sticks, dried fruit, nuts, fruit leather, ect.
11. Pack wipes.
12. Provide each child with a shoebox, or a Tupperware with a lid that they can use to store their own colored pencils, crayons, matchbox cars, library books, small coloring books, activity books, ect. Or, you could invest in these car organizers . I think they are worth it, but they are not at all necessary. Shoeboxes work great!
14. Take a percentage of your snacks and pack some in a small paper bag for each child, with their name on it. You can put a sticker on the bag and show them which sticker is theirs if they are not reading yet. Pack the bag in their shoebox or organizer. Or you can give them their bags at whatever time during the trip you deem appropriate. This gives them some sense of freedom and you don’t have to spent half an hour digging into the cooler, finding the snacks and handing them all out. Making up a couple of these bags for each child is helpful, especially if you store the extras in the cooler.
15. Bring a Pilates’s band. Have your child wrap it around their feet and stretch it with their arms. Or have a couple children play tug of war with the band. This gives them a way to engage their muscles while still confined. Doing this will ease muscle tention and a few aches. It also uses up a few minutes of time.
16. This last one isn’t money saving, but it is pretty cool! Fat Brain Toys Squigz Benders are so fun! Just suction them right to the windows.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope its given you some inspiration as you prepare for your travels. Have fun!