Traveling with Children
Our family takes a few of road trips each year, some long distance from home than others. We have four beautiful young children and people often say to me “How can you stand to take road trips with young kids?” In fact, I love taking road trips. I now prefer them to traveling by plane. The rip is part of the fun. Here are my top 10 tips for having a fun and non-stressful driving adventure.
1. Leave early in the morning, before breakfast. This way you can get a few hours under your belt while the kids (hopefully) sleep in the car. Then stop for breakfast.
2. If your budget allows, buy your child(ren) a new toy for the trip. Don’t let them play with it until you are in the car and on your way. I have even gone to the Dollar Store and picked up a few little things to be opened at difference points along the way (ex. Mile Marker 150, XYZ town,etc.)
3. Bring along a portable DVD player if your car doesn’t already have one. For long trips, pack at least 3 or more DVD’s. It’s even better if you can buy/download a couple of new ones to keep your child(ren)’s attention better. I really like some of the videos that have shorter cartoons on them. With the technology explosion, thre are so many things that you can do now on the road
4. Pack a cooler with lots of your kids favorite snacks, drinks and sandwiches. Keep the cooler handy in the car, so you can just reach in and give them something. Packing your own food saves on costs.
5. Stop at a nice rest area to eat your meals. This will be less stressing then hauling the kids into a crowded McDonald’s. When we travel round Texas we have stopped at beautiful rest areas with nice bathroom facilities. Most are located on several acres giving the kids a chance to run around and exhaust some of their energy.
6. Stop every 3-4 hours. If you are traveling with small kids like us, you will really want to take advantage of this tip. Kids don’t have a concept of time. By the time 3 hours goes by in a car it seems like forever to them. Even stopping at a gas station and letting everyone get out of the car and stretch their legs for a few minutes really works.
7. Play car games. A favorite of ours is called 'Cheese Ball' - when you see a yellow vehicle you yell "cheese ball" and you earn a point if you are the first one to spot it.
Another fun game is ‘Cops and Vette’s’. One point is given for every police car spotted and two points are given for Corvette’s. But if you call a car and it’s not correct then you deduct the points. It even helps to spot that hidden police car before he spots you!
I have also copied several activity sheets, placed them inside sheet protectors, and stored them all in a three ring binder with a dry eeraser marker. After you finish the activity, just wipe it off and start over!
8. Bring plenty of pillows and blankets. Children are more likely to sleep in the car if they are comfortable.
9. If you plan to stay somewhere overnight before traveling the next day, pack everything you need for the night in one bag. That way when you get to the hotel you don’t have to unload the whole car.
10. Check the hotels to see if they offer free breakfast. Our favorite hotel to stay in is Drury Inn. Kids stay and eat free. If we arrive at the hotel in the evening, they can eat dinner for free and then breakfast the next morning. Once again it saves on costs, especially if you pack your own lunch.
I hope these tips help you on your next road trip.
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