School’s out. Kids are home. Trust me, I get it!
It’s a longish holiday period. The kids are not in school so they are your full-time responsibility! Well, one of the many things you can do is to take them on a long road trip.
I’ll tell you how to avoid the pitfalls and make it a happy, memorable experience for all. Check out this post for ideas of other activities you can do with the children when they are not at school.
For overseas trips and other fun travel ideas, I love to check out the girls at Inside Our Suitcase.
I won’t go through the plethora of things you can do with the lovelies, but I want to share with you how to plan and carry out a long road trip. So here we go.
The first thing to do is to ensure that you plan properly. Start off by choosing a scenic route. There must be some eye candy (of the kids’ type) out the window to look at.
Tick that off your planning list. Good.
Next, ensure that there are suitable convenient rest stops along the way. The little ones get tired easily as you know and they will also need to refresh themselves, use the toilet and stretch their legs.
Also, you might want to buy them a little treat at one of the stops. For you, it also breaks up the monotony of the trip and gives you a chance to also take a break.
Pack suitable snacks and drinks. If, like me, you hate to have a messy car, then make plans for that too. I like to have this cute rubbish receptacle which is convenient to have at the back of the front seats so the little ones can put their rubbish in and avoid turning the car into a tip. That is just one of my pet peeves. I hate a messy car.
In addition, while we want to keep the little darlings hydrated, we certainly don’t want juice spilled in the car. So be sure that they have suitable juice bottles. I like these ones, depending on the child’s age of course or these. The important thing is that they are spill proof.
If they are having water, get the water which is readily available in the sport top bottles. Ensure you have water for yourself as well. The trend these days is to have fruit infused water in a bottle. For that, I would recommend THESE and if you like strawberries, they make a refreshing, low calorie flavored water. There are are other options to infuse such as mint, cucumber etc.
Now this long road trip might be to see the grandparents or to the airport or wherever. But do you know, some of us plan road trips with no destination in mind? That’s part of the intrigue.
We sometimes head out and then decide on the trip, where we are actually going to stop. If you decide to do that, then ensure you have packed a picnic and some form of activity before you board the car for the return trip.
Now, what is that one thing that most parents hate on a road trip especially if there is more than one child? You guessed it right! The squabbling. There are a number of things you can do to avoid that.
Play songs that are known and loved so that everyone is singing along to these. If they are into Disney you can play those or there are some really old traditional ones which kids just love. Play them. Be sure that the playlist is long enough. But we do know that at some point, they will become bored of those.
Go to your next carefully planned activity. Most kids these days have an iPad or tablet of some sort. They can watch movies or documentaries whilst they travel. What we do to make sure the devices are kept safe is to use an extendable mount that fits on the head rest of the driver or front passenger seat. They are really affordable and you mount them there for the convenience of the kids. Trust me, you will have some period of peace and quiet as they occupy and entertain themselves. The mounts can be turned 360 degrees too, so it’s quite convenient.
Now if you have just one child, lucky you! He/she can just sit there and enjoy whatever they want on the tablet. Others may squabble with their sibling about what to watch. To solve this problem, you might want to put the tablets on both headrests and they can use these headphones that are noise limiting so they can listen without disturbing the others. Some children may be able to watch something they all love without squabbling, in which case they can watch and listen without the use of headphones. If however, you want to listen to the car radio or your own choice of music, then you can let them use headphones.
If the trip continues and they get bored of singing and watching movies, then they might fall asleep. Good news, I know. Well prior to the trip, pack blankets in the back seat with them so that they can cozy up during the journey as it might get a bit windy. Leave the window down a bit to let in fresh air, especially for your sake (to keep you awake during the journey).
If they then wake up and you still have not got to your destination then this is a good time for another comfort stop. Once everyone is refreshed, get back in the car ready for the last leg of the journey (hopefully). One old time family favorite is a good old board game. I’m sure you know the types. Well, guess what, some are now available as ‘travel’ board games. They are magnetic and this makes it easy to play the games without the pieces moving or getting lost. This is a great invention. So be it chess or checkers or various others, these can be played whilst on a journey. It’s one of our favourites especially when we take long haul flights.
You will want to capture some of the beautiful scenery or anything else that you pass on the way. Get your camera out and get the kids interested by letting them have a go at shooting some of the scenery. There are kids cameras available now too, which are lightweight, easy to carry around and require very little manipulation.
Of course, we want to make as much of life as educational as possible for our children. Here is where your intuitiveness comes in. You can invent games, like brain teasers, counting games etcetera to get them thinking. Life is a big learning platform and we must use every opportunity for young ones to be engaged in learning. One thing to remember is that it must be as fun as possible. When children have fun learning, then that is win-win on all sides.
Having a picnic on the trip or at the very end of the trip is one way to make long-lasting happy memories for all the family. Pack food and drinks that are healthy as well as those that are occasional treats. Be sure to store food well in suitable containers and at suitable temperatures, after all we wouldn’t want anyone to get ill on the trip or afterward. So remember to keep hot foods hot, cold foods chilled and try to avoid any pitfalls of traveling with food. I would recommend this picnic basket and this divided container.
When you do get to your destination (if you did have one in mind), enjoy and from now on, I bet you will be looking forward to long road trips with your kids in tow. Remember to take care of the environment and let us all try to be as sustainable as possible in all our affairs.
One last thing, be sure to let me know how you get on with your epic road trip adventures. And to keep the educational aspect alive, you can let the little ones write up about their adventures, photos and all.