Taking Road Trips with Children
The car is packed, the journey plotted and the open road stretches before you. There is just one problem the children in the back seat chorusing "Are we there yet?" that is when they are not issuing complaints about the behavior of their siblings. So how do you survive a road trip with children?
If you are traveling with toddlers and/or babies try to travel at times when they would normally be sleeping. This will allow the youngsters to sleep while you drive and help maintain their regular sleeping habits. Change tends to be very difficult for toddlers to deal with, so try to maintain the child's normal routine as much as possible. Also, a blanket from home might prove to be very comforting when a young child is trying to settle down for sleep in a strange environment.
If you have to travel during your toddlers regular playtime, then plan for rest stops. Allow your child to get out of the car and run around, using up some of that pent up energy. Resist the temptation to go through a drive through for meals. Try to choose a restaurant with a play area and, again, allow your child to run around.
Allow your child to travel with a favorite doll or stuffed animal and a couple of books. Also, have some fun songs for your child. If you don't want to sing them all yourself there are a number of CDs you can buy. Keep in mind many toddlers tend to fixate on one song, which they will want to hear again and again. (If you need help remembering lyrics MomsMinivan.com has a few road trip songs posted.)
Older children usually need a bit more in the way of distraction. Although good music helps time move faster for all age groups. (It's just the music that varies.) Try to pack a few travel games or at least a good deck of cards. From Go Fish to Poker many card games can be converted to car friendly play.
There are also travel games that require no set up. Twenty Questions is a game easily played in a movie vehicle. Another option is the Alphabet Game. There are a number of variations, but the version my family always played required each person to say the letter and the word it was coming from. Depending on the difficulty and speed of the game we wanted to achieve the other players could then either not use letters from that word or that sign.
However, it is best to remember that even though they are not toddlers, older children too will benefit from rest stops. Pack a ball and glove, Frisbee or some other item to encourage outdoor activity. Then, depending on the length of your trip, take a break one or two times.
One final word, driving can be stressful, especially with children in the car. So, for your own sanity and safety plan a little extra commute time and get out of the car for meals. Even if all you do is walk to your booth that little bit of time away from the car will revitalize you.
Use this opportunity to talk to your children and reconnect. Play silly games and sing crazy road trip songs. (Another Hubber wrote an entire entry on road trip songs.) Enjoy your time with your family and have a safe trip.