Tips for road trips with children
Give each child a travel bag of goodies with each item in the bag individually gift-wrapped. Include things like a small box of crayons with coloring book, plastic toys, rubber stamps, etc. For older kids you can include puzzles, magazines, crazy sunglasses or hats, or cassettes/CDs. They can open a new gift each time they reach selected destinations.
Give the kids maps (laminated if possible – try looking for one at a book store). They can mark destinations, drawing a line between each destination. Have them look for road signs of towns or points of interest indicating where they are on the map. Older kids can be assigned to be navigators if this is something they can do. Talk to them about where you’re going, giving them interesting facts about some of the landmarks and towns.
If you leave early in the morning, let the kids go to the car in their pajamas where they can continue to sleep. They can change later at a rest stop or when you stop for breakfast. Have pillows and blankets in the car – it’s so great when they fall asleep on a road trip – that’s your quiet time. Wake sleeping children about ten minutes before you stop for a break. By the time you get there, they’ll have their shoes on and won’t be so groggy.
Take regular breaks from driving. How often you take breaks depends on the ages of your children. Bring a Frisbee, jump rope, a ball, etc. – have them burn off some energy for at least 15 minutes during breaks. Have picnics instead of stopping at a restaurant. The kids can be as loud and as jumpy as they want to be outdoors. End your driving time early enough for the kids to get a little playtime in before retiring for the night. Go to a shopping mall, take a walk or check out the swimming pool. This should help the kids sleep well in the evenings.
I Need Space:
Make sure your vehicle isn’t overly crowded with people or stuff. You may have to decide to leave grandma and grandpa home for this trip. When there’s plenty of room, kids can stretch out more. You don’t have to hear, “Mom, he touched me!”
Keep it Simple:
Try not to over extend yourself with too many destinations or too many planned activities. Be realistic about your travel plans. Remember, vacations are for quiet, restful activities too. When you’re tired, you can’t enjoy yourself.