I remember like it was yesterday all the times my brother and I would jump in the backseat of my dad’s car with equal parts eagerness and restlessness headed on yet another family road trip. We always had the same snacks that my grandmother was sweet enough to pack for us and we usually played the same road trip games; “I Spy” and “Herby.” Sixty ponts for an orange one (VW Bug that is)
Then we’d get sidetracked by rare treats like fast food and gas station candy.
Finally the excitement wore off and we were just tired, uncomfortable and cranky.
“He touched me!”
“She crossed over into my half of the back seat!”
And inevitably, “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” became our anthem.
Technology and good planning can alleviate all of us from reliving this familiar tale with our own kids.(or at least we can hope)
Here’s what I do to make road trips with Little and Littler easier.
1. Overcome the “are we there yets” with verbal distractions – Teaching them a new song – by ‘new’ of course I mean new to them . On a recent road trip, we taught the girls how to sing “B-I-N-G-O” and it was a huge hit.So is the Banana-nana-fo-fana-me-my-mo-manna game/song! We also love playing an imagination game, like having pretend tea parties. This can keep little ones (and surprisingly you as well) distracted from the long road ahead.
Real conversation example from our car trip:
Little, “I will have a pretend restaurant. Mommy, what do you want?”
Me, “Great, I’ll have a plate of broccoli and brussel sprouts.” (I think I’m smart making the food healthy)
Little, “Oh, sorry Mommy, we’re all out. But we have banilla ice cream!” (Now, whose the smart one?)
2. On road trips, more stuff is better! Unlike when you’re flying, you have extra space to store your extra goods – so use it! Bring additional diapers, wipes, changes of clothes and ESPECIALLY snacks to keep kids happy and clean at all times. I saw a travel tray that goes over the carseat so kids can draw, color, do sticker books and play games today that I’m consider ordering from One Step Ahead.
3. Schedule several breaks and physical games outside the car into your trip - Kids get uncomfortable sitting for long periods of time (don’t we all?) and car seats can feel especially restrictive. Although you might want to just power through the drive, make sure to schedule extra pitstops along the way to keep the kiddos happy. Also, when stopped, try to make everything a game- “Who can run to the door fastest? Who can jump up and down for 10 seconds?” A little physical activity can go a long way.
4. Have duplicates of toys if you have multiple kids – For me, having two of everything helps to prevent the “he took my…!” “I want the toy she has!,” which is especially crucial in keeping stress levels down on long road trips.
5. Technology can be a lifesaver – Investing in some type of technology, if you don’t already have an iPhone/iPad or something similar, can be hugely helpful in keeping kids entertained on road trips. For iPhone/iPad users, download some apps, videos or kid-friendly songs that don’t require an Internet connection.
I recommend downloading children’s TV shows episodes that feature popular musicians or actors so adults can be entertained as well. Sesame Street has some great options. Just do a quick Google search for Seasame Street + celebrities for an idea. My faves are Ricky Gervais, Feist, James Blunt and Andrea Bocelli. Definitely worth checking out for the whole family!
If you’re buying new, consider the LeapPad from LeapFrog – it’s a kid-version of the iPad and comes with entertainment and learning games for little ones. They’re about $100, but think of it as an investment since they can be used long after the vacation ends.
Must have Gear:
If your kids are potty training: Portable travel potty with disposable baggy inserts, like Potette Plus by Kalencom
Top ipad and iphone apps for family travel: kinderapp; Ruby’s Studio The Feelings Book interactive book app; KidzOutApp for clean bathrooms, bathrooms w/ changing tables, kid friendly restaurants, etc.; and any app created by Duck Duck Moose
What do you do to keep tantrums and melt-downs at bay on long car trips with kids?