As we at times make roadtrips to see friends and family, I have been thinking recently about how to make such trips go as smoothly as possible, specifically in regards to the kids. Although many of you will think we are crazy for this, we choose not to take a portable DVD player on our trips. (Note – this is not a commentary on children and the use of media. We are simply choosing not to use a dvd player at this point in time for our trip.) Anyway, the other day on Facebook, I asked others what kinds of toys, games, and other tips they could give me on how to make roadtrips with kids a success. I received such great ideas that I wanted to share them in a blog post as a resource for others, especially if you are planning any family travels during this holiday season.
Ideas for toys & games: (buying a lap tray for your child at a place like Michael’s will make doing many of the below suggestions much easier)
- magnetic writing boards
- paint books that only require water and paintbrush
- dollar store toys that are wrapped up – they can be pulled out separately when a new diversion is needed
- playing ‘I-Spy’ or counting games (ie. ‘How many trucks do you see on I-80?’)
- Make a bingo type card with shapes (trees, a triangle, stop sign, truck, car, farm, etc) that they can color when they find them. Give your child a little prize when they find a certain number.
- stuffed animals
- CDs of kids music
- crayons and coloring books
- an Etch-A-Sketch
- Flash cards or playing cards (card games) to stack up and put all over around their seats (not necessarily to play the actual game, just to goof around with and look at and put in and out of the box- cheap fun from the dollar store)
- ‘I-Spy bottles’ – filling a bottle with rice and other small objects for the kids to look at, shake, and turn. (Dawn’s note – I found a good instructional blog post on them here)
- Tie a strap across the back seat of the vehicle close to the ceiling, then hang different toys from it for the child to look at/watch.
- storybook CDs
- fun magnets with a metal cookie sheet to play with them on
- look-and-find books
- Give your young child an unused roll of scotch tape and let him/her go crazy. (The friend who gave this suggestion shared, “It created a mess, was sticky, but he was occupied for hours. Oh, and then we had to make sure he knew that’s not what we normally do with a roll of tape.”)
Other travel tips:
- Do the bulk of your traveling during a time when you know when your children will be sleeping.
- Stop often – we (Dawn) like to stop at a place where we can grab food and then take it to a park for Elijah to run a bit. One person suggested that you look ahead on maps and find parks ahead of time.
- Have a lot of options for your children to deal with their short attention spans.
- If you are stopping at a motel for the evening, give them the promise of swimming in a motel pool at the end of the day to look forward to.
- Have plenty of snack options (individual bags are helpful) available.
I thought these were fantastic ideas and I am excited to implement many of them into our upcoming trip. I have the following people to thank for the above suggestions: Cheri R., Jessica M., Molly H., Jennifer C., Kaydi K., Martha C., Amy A., Becky D., Andrea S., Zach S., Jason B., and Sharon J. Thank you to each of you!
What about you? Do you have any ideas or tips to add to these lists?