Tips For Parents When Going On Long Drives With Kids
Fight boredom during long drives
My daughter Yna recently had her first long trip. The drive from Manila to Baguio is around 270 Kilometers (one way). Even with the new road the non-stop drive will take around 7 hours. To complicate matters, we were cramped in a Toyota Innova with 4 children ages 9 months to 8 years old. Before you take on an audacious task, allow me to share some tips to make the trip less toxic.
Adjust your travel time
Traveling with children will lengthen your travel time. Not that they can bend the time-space continuum but because frequent stops are inevitable. Whether it’s a diaper change or a food break, there is always a reason to stop. If you have hotel reservations, make sure you adjust your travel time. In the past, I prefer travelling at night while the kids are asleep. This lessens the stops needed. Moreover, I don’t have to contend with the traffic. Just remember that the sooner you get to your destination the better - preferably alive and without incident.
- Choose the fastest route
- Consider the best departure time
- Incorporate traffic patterns in your route
- Watch out for traffic advisories
Make frequent stops
You’ve learned about the longer travel time above. This second tip contributes to that! Unlike adults, children get bored easily. Also, bodily functions can be a huge factor for stopping. So during long vacation trips with children stop as often as you can. This will prevent tantrums from happening. Also, it breaks the monotony of being confined in the car. Here are some ideas you can consider:
- Stop and take pictures
- Stop for a quick stretch
- Stop for bathroom breaks
- Food stops to recharge
- Stop just to make them run around – of course not along the highway
Prepare activities for the trip
One sure way to keep the little ones from getting bored is to provide them with games. Depending on the age of the children, there are activities for each age group. It can be as simple as naming of colors. The secret is to keep it interesting. This means having new games and activities ready when they grow tired of one.
- Pack crayons, paper, pens and other art activities that won’t make a mess in the car
- Bring their favorite toy
- Have a DVD/CD of their favorite music and movie
- Have a kit or bag for all the kid’s paraphernalia and make sure it’s accessible
- Hand-held games will come in handy. Your iPad or iPhone can do the trick as well
During road trips, I have noticed that food keeps children occupied (and adults sane). Packing a few munchies can make the difference between a pleasant trip and chaos. Of course you must pack foods that are easy to eat and easy to prepare.
- Instead of junk food, bring fruits, nuts and other healthy snacks
- Have extra clothes available since making a mess can be expected
- A small cooler can keep your food fresh
Take turns in entertaining the kids
If you are travelling with several children and several adults, it is a good idea to take turns entertaining the children. This way everyone gets to rest and recharge. You'll be surprised at the energy level of kids especially when you confine them in a car for long hours.
- Assign who goes first
- Ask every person to prepare something for the kids
- An alternative is to assign who takes care of food, games etc.
Many adults are afraid to go on road trips especially long drives when there are kids. But trips can be fun with kids. Just don’t let them get bored!
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