For many of us, summertime is family time. It’s a perfect time to hit the road and head off on a summer road trip. What a wonderful way to see the country, get closer as a family and make wonderful memories. Often, road trips are all these things and much more. As parents, the last thing we want to feel after we’ve come home from a vacation is that we now NEED a vacation.
My husband and I have taken many road trips with our five children over the past 20 years. I can remember road trips when all five of my children were under 11 years of age. We’ve traveled with crying infants and moody teenagers often at the same time. Was it always easy and wonderful? No, not by a longshot. But over the years, my husband and I have discovered along the way some tips and ideas that have worked for us to help make our trips in the car more enjoyable. Hopefully, these ideas will work for you.
1. A few days before our trip, I’d go to Walmart or Target or The Dollar Store and pick up several new inexpensive “toys” or items for me to pull out as needed throughout the trip. These were never expensive, just something different for the kids to enjoy.
2. Give each child a notebook and a new pack of crayons or colored pencils. This was their “journal” to use on the trip. We encouraged them to draw pictures of things they saw along the way. They also used this notebook to play tic-tac-toe with their siblings.
3. Look for audio-books to bring along . You can find many at your local library. Save them to pull out at different times during the trip.
4. If you have a TV or video device in your car, pick up a few new videos from your local library. Look for movies your children haven’t seen before or ones that you know they love and enjoy.
5. Pick up a few special treats to eat along the way. I would always look for foods that I normally wouldn’t buy as a special treat. There are many snacks to choose from that aren’t full of sugar that you can find.
6. Pack a special backpack for each child that contains crayons, stickers, books and maybe a special surprise.
7. Print out fun activities for the kids. Sites such as Family Fun are full of coloring sheets and activities for kids to enjoy.
8. Plan stops along the way. Look for stops for lunch or bathroom breaks with areas for the kids to get out and run around a bit.
9. Car games are still fun. Compact travel games like Battleship or a deck of playing cards are great for road trips.
10. Remember to have fun and be flexible. You’re creating wonderful memories with your children. Enjoy the journey.