Planning a road trip this summer? Preparation is key to ensuring the kids and you get through without too many tears or squabbles. Activities, snacks and comfort/convenience is key.
Favourites include colouring tablets, etch-a-sketch, books and a magnetic games. Consider toys and activities that can be played with for long periods of time. So the key here is to focus on quiet toys that can sit on their laps, without a bunch of pieces moving all over the car. If you have more than one child, make sure you provide multiple of the same thing (think multiple colouring packs) to avoid fights over who has what.
Backpack of their own toys
In addition to the activities above, let your kids pack a backpack of books or other toys they want play with in the car. Even though you know what your kids love, having them pick out their own activities somehow makes the backpack of toys a better choice to play with. This is perfect for a road trip with a toddler!
When the activities above get boring, bring out some technology to keep them occupied. A tablet like a Fire or leap frog loaded with things to do can help you keep your sanity. Make sure to pack the chargers, and charging banks to avoid tantrums should the device goes flat.
Sometimes you just need to stop the games and reading and have a good old chair boogie. Put together a Spotify playlist of all your family favourites and when the energy levels are starting to get low and the kids a bit scratchy, crank up the tunes and see who can bust out the best chair dance moves.
Think of foods that are easy to transport and with little mess. Potato chips and sweets might be the most convenient snacks. But look for healthier options like fruit, nuts and carrot sticks. The key here is to individually portion the snacks to ensure they go the distance.
This is handy for storing extra drinks and snacks that should be kept cold. Don't forget the icepacks.
Reusable water bottles for everyone
You can keep water handy in the car for you and the kids, not to mention water bottles can be refilled almost anywhere, for free!
Napkins or wet wipes
You’ll need them for the snacks above. And ALWAYS pack more than you need. Make sure you grab a bag for rubbish to go into, too.
It’s extremely important to make sure that your children’s car seats are comfortable if you plan to undertake such long drives! While young children often don’t complain, it’s important to look for key comfort features (extra padding, reclining back, cup holders, arm rests and more) to keep everyone happy on the road.
Car Seat Organizers
A full car can soon get messy. Kids toys, water bottles, sweets etc can end up stuck under the seats, fallen down gaps and out of reach. With a car seat organiser on the back of the front seats, kids have all their bits and pieces at hand and the car stays tidy for longer.
UV Window Shade
Traveling with the sun shining directly in on one side can soon get very uncomfortable. Have a couple of window shades ready. They are inexpensive and will keep the car cooler and little passengers happier.
To maximize the advantage of the tablets, make sure each child has their own headphones. Multiple videos playing out loud will give everyone a headache. Headphones restore peace on your family road trip. Many child headphones have volume restriction to protect your child's hearing.
A favourite stuffed animal, blankets, pillows, etc. Encourage your kids to sleep to pass the time in the car and know that they’ve got the things that give them comfort as they do.
First Aid Kit
Not the most exciting thing to pack, but a first aid kit is definitely an essential. Ice packs, band aids, bite and sting cream, sunscreen and pain medicine are all crucial for families on the move.
This might be the biggest thing to bring with you! Road trips provide memories that last a lifetime, but can be highly stressful, too. When it’s frustrating or agitating, take a deep breath and just remember why you’re on the road trip.
It’s true that one of the most annoying questions you’ll hear over and over again on a road trip with kids is “Are we there yet?” Taking something to measure time so your kids know where you’re at and how long is left to get to your next destination could prevent them from getting on your last nerve and help the kids learn a little about time and distance too!
This DIY time tracking craft, that we found on another blog is easy to make and works well for kids who can’t tell time yet (let alone understand the concept of a multi-hour drive).
First, string a ribbon across the back seat (using either the handles on the roof or wardrobe hooks). Make marks along the ribbon to signify places along the way. Then tape post-it notes to the roof with things to watch for, for each mark (what's to see, distance to get there, and about how long it will take to get to that point.) Then print off a car (or draw one), cut it out and punch holes in it and string the ribbon through the car picture.
Move the car across the ribbon when you reach the things you’re watching for. This way kids focus on how far you've come instead of how much time is left. Let kids take turns moving the car. It gives them something to look forward to at each point. And, on the return trip, you can move the car in reverse, or put it back at the beginning and reorganize the post-it notes and start over.
We wish you all safe and sane travels these summer holidays.