Ah, the wide open road. A place to contemplate the wonders of the world and enjoy the beauty of the earth. Unless you have kids. Then it’s more like hours upon hours of torture because they won’t stop fighting and they just have to go to the bathroom right now, even though you’re a good 30 miles from the next gas station.
Yes, taking a road trip with children can be hard, but that doesn’t mean it should be impossible. Although I can’t promise you a smooth ride, I can promise to give you a few tips to make things easier.
The old boy scout motto applies to road trips for sure. Depending on your children’s age, have activities prepared for them. They will get bored of watching the DVD player, so make sure you’re ready for that. For my kids (who are two and four) I always pack a basket of toys, coloring books and crayons, and lots of little treats to keep them tied over.
For older kids consider puzzles and other games to keep their minds entertained. Find out what they might enjoy doing on the long car ride and make sure you have things handy.
Learn Some New Games
One of my fondest memories of childhood road trips involved playing games with my family. As a parent, I know how much I would just like to sit back and let the kids entertain themselves, but think of what a great opportunity it is to bond with your children. One of my most favorite games was looking for letters of the alphabet on road signs. We would have to find an ‘A’ then a ‘B’ etc. until we got to ‘Z’. I’m sure my parents appreciated this one as well because there would be long periods of silence while we concentrated on signs looking for a hard to get letter like ‘Q’ or ‘X’. It doesn’t hurt to have a few games in your arsenal should you need to keep the kids entertained.
Have a Backup Plan
We all want to have that image in our heads of everything going according to plan and no one being upset on the car ride to wherever it is you’re going. But road trips are unpredictable and therefore you should be flexible about your options. Sometimes you really do just need to get the kids out of the car and go for a walk to settle them down before hoping back in. I’ve found a little walk at every stops helps keep my kids from squirming too much the rest of the drive. It’s best to have a little breathing room in your driving schedule in order to keep the kids happy.
Road trips can be a fun and memory making experience for your kids. It doesn’t have to be something painful or just a way to get from point A to point B. It can be a truly rewarding experience that your kids will enjoy and cherish for a lifetime to come.