It’s summer and time to head out on the road (unless you are a homeschooler; then you avoid the summer travelers and go during the school).
But in either case road trips are an excellent opportunity to create memories and STRESS!
3 Road Trip Essentials: Patience, Preparation and Play!
PATIENCE: This means to be flexible and realistic
If you are traveling more than 3 hours away expect at least one good traffic accident to slow you down for 30-45mins.
If you have a child under the age of 5 in the car add an additional hour onto your GPS’s ETA. And that “Add an Hour” rule applies to EVERY child that you have in the car under the age of 5.
Don’t ask me where I got these rules- just trust me as a mom of 5 who has travelled with them since the first one was an infant. He’s now 22. I’m an optimist with EXPERIENCE! So believe me when I say stick to these rules and you’ll do well in keeping yourself calm and stress free on your road trips!
PREPARATION: This means to nip the problems in the bud.
As stated I’m an optimist. So the saying, ‘Expect the best, Prepare for the worst” grates against my life’s philosophies! But it’s sooo freaking true on a road trip. Therefore, prepare prepare prepare!
One bag, One pillow, One blanket per child rule! By initiating this rule you keep down the clutter in your vehicle. If there’s a problem with the car, late at night and it entails a tow truck coming to get you and the kiddies you don’t want to have to dig through piles of stuff on the floor to get to the toddler in the back carseat! IJS, keep it neat. Besides when you stop at the gas station and the kids get out and there’s an avalanche of toys and “stuff” tumbling after them, it just ain’t pretty.
Every child for himself and mom for all: Put snacks in each child’s individual book bag. And you keep control over certain snacks and drinks with a small cooler. NOW if, like me, you are concerned because you have that one Greedy Gut Kid that will eat ALL of his snacks before you’re out of the driveway, then before the trip have the talk about consequences & self-discipline and then let the lessons begin. Of course the child has to be over the age of 8 to fully get the lesson.
Indoor Swimming pools are from the heavens! If you are going to stop at a hotel make sure it has an indoor pool. Before you leave in the morning let those little jokers swim off some of that energy! It may be a little more expensive to stay there but it’s sooo worth it. There’s nothing like chlorine to calm down the kids.
Maps aren’t just educational tools but they shut down the, “Are We There Yet?” question! A few days before your trip print out a simple map of your destination for younger children and mark off the route with a bright crayon. For the older children get an official map and teach them how to read it. Yes GPS is part of our lives forever now but we still need to know how to read maps danggonit!
PLAY: This means to make the journey just as much fun as the destination
I want my children to remember the FUN car rides to go and have fun; not the dreaded HOURS of sitting in the car to go have fun. You would do well to map your trip out by the hour and have an activity for each hour. Already a 5 hour trips sounds more manageable.
Blow bubbles out the windows-leave the windows slightly ajar and lock them so the kids don’t get carried away. And they will get carried away.
Wrap Dollar Store toys and even old toys that they haven’t played with in a while, in Christmas wrapping paper and put them in a gift bag. When you stop for gas let everyone chose a “gift”!
Give each child 5 paperclips at the start of the trip and choose the Taboo Word of the Hour. These are words decided by the children before the trip started. If a player say sthe Taboo Word of the Hour and another hears it, they can take that players clip. They can earn clips back by listening closely and catching another player when they slip up. The word can be car, dance, OMG or my chosen word “Mommy”!
The Alphabet Memory game keeps them laughing. Starting with the letter A, the first person says “I went to the store and bought an APPLE” (or whatever word they want to use that begins with the letter A). The next player has to repeat what was said before, adding another item on that begins with the next letter of the alphabet “I went to the store and bought an APRICOT and a BANDANA” Rotate around the car until you get to the letter Z.
Start a story and everyone in the car adds on to it. Definitely get your recording device out for this one.
Work together to spot a license plate from as many states as possible. Let someone keep score and they Family gets a special treat when all are found.
I Spy never gets old, especially with little kids. Have the person who is “it” spy something in the car, and each player takes turns guessing what they’ve spied.
Someone asks a random question (ie: Would you rather eat a worm, or squish it with your fingers?) Each person gets a chance to answer and give their reasons why if they want.This is one where you don’t even have to get involved although it’ll be so interesting it’ll be difficult to tune out.
Have a bubble gum blowing contest! This is another one where you don’t have to get involved, unless you have a bunch of competitive boys like I do! In which case, just give them gum and tell them to blow bubbles.
Play cards! Uno, Old Maids, Go Fish. If you don’t have the space in the car then save this for a rest stop visit.
Road trips can create great memories or great misery. The only way to have a stress free road trip is to plan for the one that you want most.
For even MORE tips check out my video of How to Travel with Kids video below. I recorded while on a road trip with my children.
Feel free to add your favorite Road Trip Tip below!