As you read this I am about to go on vacation! I am super excited but also anxious about keeping kids entertained on the way to and from Atlanta and also nights at the hotel. Family trips can be a great experience or a source of extreme stress. They can be fun, educational and rewarding too. Without planning, however, the family road trip could turn into a nightmare. Kids get restless and irritable when boredom sets in and the next thing you know you have a battle going on in the back seat. I have been getting creative lately in preparation. Here are some of things I have planned.
DVDs – I know…I am so bad, but oh well. We have a DVD player attached to the roof of our car, so the actual trip will be a breeze. We also have a portable DVD player for the hotel room.
Coloring – This is an all-time favorite activity for all 3 of my kids but I don’t want to lug around tons of crayons or crayon boxes so we are using our homemade crayon rolls. They each hold a dozen crayons or more and they roll up very small. These are perfect for restaurant and hotel entertainment.
I-Spy Bags – My kids really like these. They are little fabric bags with a see-through window that contain a filler material (ours has rice) and several little trinkets that you need to find like buttons, bells, paper clips, dice and other little items you would likely find at a craft store like a mini baseball or a snowflake. The one we have has a card attached to you can cross all the items off as you find them. They are really fun.
Slugbug – You look for Volkswagen beetles and yell 'Slug bug!' when you find them. Kids love this game. You are supposed to hit the person next to you when you find them but we leave that part out…
Create a Story – Create a story while traveling from the names on highway signs and billboards. The first player picks a name off a sign and begins telling a story using the name in the sentence. After each sentence the next player goes picking his name and adding a sentence to the story and continuing back to each player until the story is done.
My Road Trip Journal – Prepare a backpack for each child with notebooks, sketchpads, markers, crayons, sticker, scissors, and paste. The children can keep an account of the trip. They can write down events, draw pictures of things seen, and paste collected items such leaves, pamphlets, and colorful stones into the journal. Pictures from the trip can later be added to their journals.
Books and Quizzes – Kids love to guess. Pack plenty of puzzle and word fill books, flash cards and easy trivia games and the children will be occupied for hours.
Listening Music and Stories – Kids of all ages love stories. Books on CD’s can be borrowed at the library to bring on the trip. Add to the list music CD’s; family sing-a-long songs are great fun. I am taking my iPod and car adapter so we have plenty of all the above for mom and kids.
Bring along lots of snacks and drinks to prevent whining when hunger pangs strike. We have trail mix, dehydrated fruit, beef jerky, milk cartons, and snack bars for the road. Allow time to stop every two or three hours for the bathroom, meals or just to let the kids run for a while. A family road trip does not have to be a disaster. Plan wisely and the road trip will be a pleasurable experience!