Have Kids? Will Travel!

Check out these road trip tips to help avoid those dreaded travel temper tantrums.

  • If your kids have a tendency to fight in the car, come up with creative ways to minimize conflict. Bring along a stopwatch so that they can time each another’s turns with a toy that they have a hard time sharing.
  • Try to seat them as far apart as possible so that they’re less likely to get on one another’s nerves. With older kids, you can use “car miles points”. For every 15 minutes of fight-free travel they earn points and allow them to redeem these “points” for special treats and privileges.
  • Put together a “surprise bag” full of forgotten toys and other surprises. When the kids start getting fussy surprise them with one of the items.  This “new” item is sure to keep them engaged for a while.
  • Bring along some activities that your child can enjoy in the car without creating a huge mess. Here are a few ideas: a cookie sheet covered with magnetic letters and numbers, a peel-and-stick sticker book, an Etch-A-Sketch drawing toy, bendable rubber figures like Gumby and Pokey, their favorite stuffed animal, a puzzle book, and a felt board.
  • Try this creative idea: print out and laminate a map with your start point and end point and include some major points in between.  Give the kids some dry erase markers and let them follow along as you hit the milestones on your trip.
  • Don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite music CD or book on tape so that you can pop it in if the going gets tough.
  • Play classic games like “I Spy,” “20 Questions,” and “License Plate Bingo.”  You can use these games to help your kids secretly learn colors, numbers and other education essentials.
  • Bring along plenty of snacks and drinks so that you won’t have to take as many snack breaks. Aim for no-mess snacks like raisins and other types of dried fruit, dry cereal, crackers and cheese, vegetable sticks, and so on. Buy refillable juice containers and fill them with juice.
  • Invest in a portable ice chest for your car that is just big enough to hold snacks and drinks.  If you do not want to deal with the hassle of draining the water, try ice packs or put the ice in a plastic sealable bag.  They are self-contained, reusable and work just as well.

Above all: Keep a positive attitude. It can be stressful travelling with kids, but if you take frequent breaks and remind yourself that they can’t be expected to clock the same number of miles in a day as an adult, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a terrific family vacation. Have fun!