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I don’t know about you, but even as an adult, I HATE travelling. Don’t get me wrong. I love when I actually arrive at the destination. I just don’t like getting there or returning. At least as an adult, I keep the complaining to a minimum (well...most of the time!). However, when I was a child and when my daughter was younger, it took less than twenty minutes before the dreaded “How much longer?” was asked. I’m sure most parents can relate. So, before you leave for your next jaunt, read about eight ways to keep a road trip fun for kids!
- Pack Goody Bags - I remember going to the beach with my cousin when I was five. Her mom packed us goody bags with coloring books, crayons, stickers, and our favorite snacks. I thought this was SO COOL! Some other items you could include are handheld games and crafting items (such as items needed to make beaded bracelets). I recently saw a picture where a clear tackle box or craft box was used as a snack box. The pre-divided sections were perfect for snacks like chips, gummy worms, grapes, and skittles! If it is hot outside, do not include chocolate, or you may have quite the mess. Also, don’t forget the napkins or wet wipes any time that children and snacks are involved!
- Stop at Local Parks - Find some local parks to stop at along your route. Let your children play on the playground for a short amount of time. This will give them (and you!) the opportunity to stretch their legs and get a little energy out as they explore new places. You could also have a picnic while at the park. Either pack a cooler of sandwiches or run through a local drive thru.
- Travel Journals - Give each child a cute notebook and pen. Let them write down the towns or states that you travel through, interesting things they see, places y'all stop, etc. They can also draw pictures and/or take pictures of interesting things you see along the way.
- DVD Player/Tablets - I know many parents, understandably, want to limit screen time. However, sometimes you just need to survive the trip! So, don’t feel bad about making sure the tablets are charged and ready. You could even add some educational games! If you do not already have a car dvd player, I definitely believe they are worth the investment. On trips with my daughter, we would relate the travel time left to a number of Barney episodes. This helped her to understand the concept of the timing much better.
- Sing Songs - Singing songs on car rides takes me back to trips with my youth group. “99 bottles of Coke on the wall...Take one down, pass it around, 98 bottles of Coke on the wall.” Starting at 99 and working your way down to 0 will certainly pass the time! Another song that I love to sing on family trips is The 12 Days of Christmas. You can change the words to fit your family. “On the third day of family vacation, my “true love” gave to me -- three feet of social distancing, two sibling arguments, and a speeding ticket on the way.” Hopefully, there will be no arguments or speeding tickets, but it is always fun to make this song fit your fam jam!
- License Plate Game - This was one of my favorite car games when I was smaller. Even now, I enjoy taking note of different car tags when I travel. Prior to the trip, print each child out an outline map of the United States. Your children can color each state as they see a car tag from there. To add to this, if your child has access to the internet, let them look up a few interesting facts about each state that is found.
- Scavenger Hunt - Turn the road trip into one big scavenger hunt. Prior to the trip, have a family activity where you create the items for the hunt. Some suggestions include spotting someone riding a bike, a library, an elementary school, a purple car, a set of twins, etc. Mark each item off of the list as it is discovered.
- Magnets & Cookie Sheet - Find cool magnets (letters, numbers, animals, etc.) and let your children have fun arranging them on cookie sheets. Since the magnets will stick to the cookie sheet, your children should easily be able to keep up with them.