Ah, the sounds of summer…
Are we there yet?!?
How much longer?!?
I’ve got to go the bathroom!!!
Are we theeerrreee yet?!?
Chances are you are doing a road trip with your children this summer, so here is my first tip:
Ha! Ha! Just kidding. Road trips are a child’s rite of passage. Looking back I have some fond memories of summers past when my family hopped in the van and oftentimes headed south to where I now live. Oh, the irony!
My family unit does not live near any extended family, so most of our trips in the summer are road trips up and down Interstate-75. We are gearing up for two long ones in the next two months, and I am trying to mentally prepare for what is about to happen. You see, my children DO NOT SLEEP IN THE CAR. I know…odd, right? The only time any of the three has slept in the car is when each was a baby. Now they are 11, 9, and 5, and they are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on road trips. With that being said, it is imperative that I’m prepared! Here are some tips that might help you out too:
- Have each child pack an activity box.
You can purchase a cheap box with a lid at Dollar Tree, Walmart, or Target. If you have a Caboodle (see mine above), this is an excellent activity box. Have your child pack books, art supplies, games, etc. in this box. Also, make sure it is easily accessible for them so that you aren’t doing a back bend over the passenger seat at some point!
- Have each child pack a pillow and blanket…maybe a stuffed animal.
I cannot tell you the number of times our family of five has fought over the temperature in the car. Having a blanket handy can be a lifesaver for your child if you or your spouse are having a hot flash up front and want to blast the A/C. Also, on the off-chance that your child nods off, a pillow might add some comfort over rough roads.
- Rewards for good car behavior.
While it might look slightly different, try to maintain order in the car the same way you would at home. I’ve been implementing a “3-Strikes” discipline method, and so far so good. It is an easy one to take on the road. Check out this awesome “3-Strikes” method here. Seriously, though. If you haven’t heard, “Are we there yet?” one hundred times by the time you stop at a travel center to refuel, reward your child by giving them a couple bucks for a pack of gum or a bag of chips. This will motivate them to keep busy by digging into their activity boxes.
- Call a relative or even FaceTime.
This is a fun way of connecting with your loved ones since life at home can be so busy and move at such a fast pace. Since you are restricted in a vehicle, it might be a good idea to catch up with a relative or a friend. Note: Obviously a tip for passengers only!
- Make sure all technology is charged and/or has cords, remotes, and headphones.
I was so cute back when my oldest was the age of my now youngest child. I was so against hours of technology in the car. I used to put limits on how many movies he was allowed to watch or video games he was allowed to play. I’m not that way anymore, but I don’t want technology to dominate the entire road trip, especially if it’s a long one. Nonetheless, make sure all the tech parts are ready to go or you might find yourself in a Sam’s parking lot waiting for the store to open like we did one year.
- Pack snacks
- Pack a picnic
Of course, you’ll pass a million exits with Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell, but if you want to save money, pack a picnic lunch/dinner, and pinpoint a rest area or even a state park to get out and stretch your legs and have a picnic. Saving money is always a good idea. Find a map of rest areas here. Find a park here.
- Switch seats
If possible, give your kids a different vantage point with different scenery. You could switch halfway to your destination or decide to switch on your way back home. Even mom and dad should switch seats because driving, especially in traffic, can be exhausting!
- Pack supplies in case of a mess.
If I’ve learned anything while on road trips it’s this: somebody will spill goldfish, dump out juice, or worse, vomit. Find a space in your vehicle where you can stash trash bags, plastic grocery bags, Clorox wipes, and paper towels. At the very least those plastic bags will be helpful when cleaning out your vehicle once you reach your destination.
- Have a singalong!
If your family likes to sing, lead them in a round or just a silly song (99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall???). If you would rather not go a cappella, bring a playlist from Spotify. I really liked this one here.
- Listen to audiobooks.
Our family has a child who a) doesn’t love reading and b) gets sick sometimes when reading in the car. Audiobooks are a great solution! Check out a fantastic list of family audiobooks from Travel & Leisure here.
- Have a contest!
Who can spot the most animals? Who can spot the most license plates from the same state? different states? The possibilities are endless. Winners get a bonus treat once you land in your destination.
Do you have any tips or suggestions you would add?