Entertainment for the road
Talk to your children about where you will be traveling. Look up the location on the internet or map or both. Research facts about your destination that will help your child remember and look forward to your trip. Show your child on a calendar when you will be going and when you will be back. The more your child knows the better and less anxious they will be.
Technology provides many sources of entertainment from portable DVD players to Nintendo’s DS Lites and even iPhones or iPods. Some technology things that has worked for us… downloading PBS shows from iTunes. If you have a portable DVD player with only one headphone jack, get a headphone splitter so multiple people can listen. And listen to audio books.
If you want your kids to be entertained beyond what technology can provide, you might try free print out travel games from Familyfun.com or check out the travel size board games such as Taboo, Bop It, Apples to Apples, Candyland, Trivial Pursuit and Sorry in the game section at Wal-Mart or Target. Lap desks are great for kids to get creative with drawing or coloring in the back seat. Stickers, coloring books and magnetic books.
Bring a list of random questions or some may call them conversation starters. Questions such as, If you could have a super power, what would it be? There are also games and books with these conversation starter questions. Games such as Would You Rather…, Loaded Questions and Smart Mouth all available in the game section at a very low cost.
Where are you staying?
Does it have children friendly facilities? A pack ‘n play works well for baby and toddler sleeping arrangements while traveling. Sleeping bags are also easy to pack for older children. If you are in a hotel or motel, ask for a cot for the older kids. Some hotels have cribs you can use. Don’t forget your own pillows. Maybe it’s just the germaphobe in me, but I have a hard time sleep on someone else’s pillow. If your child has a special blanket, pillow, doll or lovey remember to pack that. Life jackets make swimming at hotels less stressful for parents and kids.
Make a car kit
Keep a container of easily accessible children necessities in the car. It can be in a large Tupperware, a plastic bin or a special car/trunk organizer. Then put baby wipes, sanitary wipes, extra diapers, a small first aid kit, packaged tissue paper, paper towels, toilet paper and a couple of plastic grocery bags for trash or the unfortunate car sicknesses. The paper towels and toilet paper comes in small travel sizes. You never know when you’ll have to clean up a spill or a public bathroom doesn’t have toilet paper.
I also travel with a large insulated tote to keep drinks cool and fruits fresh. Pack sandwiches and snack if you don’t want to stop for fast food. Each child having their own water bottle that they can decorate before they leave on the trip is a great way to avoid soda and stops for high sugar drinks.
Air travel pillows are great for kids while traveling in the car. You can find the child version at most department stores. Kids find comfort from the soft plush around their neck and hopefully will promote a relaxing ride.
Schedule it right
Plan driving around nap times or bed times. This works well for kids who sleep well in the car. Leave at a time when you know your kids will sleep. We have left for a road trip at 4 a.m. because Kaye goes back to sleep when she is in the car. Then when she awakes at 8 a.m., we had already traveled for four hours.
Kids eat free
Plan to stop at places where kids eat free. Or places with playgrounds. Let them get out and stretch a bit. Get all their wiggles out before getting back in the car. You can search for places where kids eat for free online. Continental breakfast is always nice with kids when staying in hotels, cost effective and tides kids over until lunch.
KOA camp grounds are the best. Most of them have pools and showers. Kids love to camp and swim! There is a great one in Bandon Oregon with a pool and a mile from West Coast Animal Park. This is a great weekend.
Giving kids a camera, an old cell phone with a camera is a great way to go, throw away cameras, whatever you may have available to help your child create a memory of your time together.
Wishing you all safe a and Happy Travels~