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Challenge: Traveling with Kids

Road trip mantra: Back to Basics!

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The Merritt Family driving to Washington, D.C.

On the one hand we have so much today we didn't have when I was growing up- so that should make it easier, right? Well, not necessarily. What comes with the technology (iPad, games, etc...) also comes the distraction and the larger issue of our children losing interest in things faster than in the past. So when you're traveling with little ones and they're not as engaged with a lot of the "stuff" that should make it easier, what do you do?

Go back to basics.

Or rather, go back in time. Growing up, my family would drive from Chicago to eastern Long Island every summer and while I'm sure selective memory has played a role, I look back on those road trips and smile about the memories they created. My sisters and I each had a "bin" that we could put some toys (Barbies, books, drawing supplies, etc...) and that was it. And that was all we needed. We'd listen to books on tape. We'd play bingo. I know, it sounds a little cheese-ola, but the time passes one way or another and this approach kept it simple.

Skip ahead (just a few!) years and now we have our own family, two little boys and have been doing some road trips of our own. The first big road trip was from Chicago to Martha's Vineyard and we went WAY overboard with tech. Too many movies, apps, games and it was terrible. The kids couldn't get past a certain level: meltdown. They kids couldn't agree on the same movie: meltdown. You get it.

This past Spring Break we drove to D.C. and I took a new approach (yep, you got it!): Back to Basics. We had a "shared bin" in between their seats that had some books (we picked ones that our 4yo likes, such as Waldo and more visual as well as ones our 7yo could read like Capt. Underpants), they each had colored pencils (This is a crucial tip: colored pencils > crayons!), coloring books, music on the ipads, headphones. Now, they did have iPads but we stripped the games and kept them simple. We also downloaded audio books and that was the biggest hit. Although, if I never hear Diary of A Wimpy Kid on tape again, that'll be too soon!

Net net, it was a great trip and by keeping it simple, getting back to basics, it gave us a chance to actually enjoy each other. Were there meltdowns? Of course. But they were outweighed by fun times, which really, is all you can ask!

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