The time has come for planning this summer’s family vacation and after spending several years going back to Kansas for family obligations we want to experience a new adventure this trip. Well, as luck would have it, we have yet another family function that we’re obligated to attend this year, so how do we find adventure in another trip to a place where I’ve spent nearly thirty years of my life? We’ve come up with a new, innovative way to focus on the journey, not the destination. Rather than flying we’ve planned a good, ol’ fashioned road trip.
Now the question becomes; with eighteen hundred miles of open road ahead of us and a three-year-old in the car seat behind me, how are we going to keep our sanity over the course of seven days. Here are some tips I’ve picked up to keep your children from turning your family truckster into a roaming mental hospital.
1) Plan your trip so that your sight-seeing stops are spread out at regular intervals.
2) Have games of all sorts that require little or no actual pieces. A few games that have always worked in my family are I Spy, Twenty Questions, Where’s the Alphabet, The License Plate Game, and memory games like ”I went on a picnic and I brought ____.” Our family loves to put in an adventuresome sounding CD and play the pretend game of “Going on Safari”, where we “see” elephants, giraffes, zebras, and gazelles in the things we pass.
3) Eat in the car and play at the picnic areas and rest stops you find along the way by active games like catch or exploring. By doing this they’ll get their energy out and have another activity in the car to keep them busy. And don’t forget to stretch as often as possible.
4) Buy a kid’s camera and create a scrapbook along the way so your child can keep his/her memories and gain the skill of a photographer.
5) I have mixed feelings about this one–Bring an iPad loaded with your child’s favorite movies
or TV shows but save it for times when there is no other way to keep boredom from becoming meltdowns. The point of being on a road trip is enjoying the landscape around you, so make sure they have time to idly stare out the windows, too.
6) Pack healthy snacks in easily accessible, single-serve bags so whenever they want to eat they’ll be faced with only healthy options.
7) Make sure sight-seeing stops are interesting to your kids so conversation before and after will be engaging and kill time in the car.
8) Along with a box of crayons and paper, bring other craft projects that won’t be messy.Origami or crocheting are both great activities that will require no tools and create no mess and their projects can be given as gifts to people you’ll see along the way.
9) Keep the phone charged so the kids can call grandma and grandpa and tell them where they’re at and what they are doing.
10) Books, books, and more books. Take your kids to the library prior to the trip and let them pick out some favorites and some new books to try. Maybe something about the things you’ll see along the way or maybe the history of the places you’ll visit.