They say that “getting there” is half the fun of a road trip. That can be debatable. Talk to five different adults and you’ll get five different childhood memories – not all of them good. Vacations are meant to refresh and revive – not only for the working adults, but also for little ones. Unfortunately, kids, like traffic, can be unpredictable. Here are a few tips to get you there and back as happy as possible.
The idea of just jumping in the car and going away for the weekend seems like a great spontaneous idea, but in the end could turn out less than pleasurable. Remember that traveling with children always takes longer than without.
Schedule in plenty of stops along the way and try to be reasonable on all the sites you plan on seeing. Your children will survive if they don’t see the “world’s largest ball of twine,” but will miss a memory if you don’t have time to stop and see Aunt Bertha. Also, most families plan for the trip on the front end, but it is also wise to plan for the trip home as well.
A comfortable kid is a happy kid. Be prepared for any kind of weather.
While it may be cold outside, your children could be sweating in a sweater in the backseat with the sun beating in on them through the window. Then again, your kids could be freezing in their shorts with the air conditioning is blasting away. Loosely pack a change of clothing for each child in a separate piece of luggage so you won’t have to rummage through all of your suitcases to find that “one” pair of shorts. Also, allow your children to bring their pillows, blankets and their favorite stuffed friend.
Prepare snacks ahead of time for both the way there and on the way home. Keep the kids guessing on what they will get next. Pack a variety of snacks in plastic bags:
- Apple slices (tossed in a little lemon juice so that they don’t turn brown) with a little plastic cup of peanut butter
- Peanuts and raisins
- Carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes and a small cup of hummus
- Plain popcorn and “fishy” crackers
- Tubes of yogurt
- Also, pack juices boxes or bottles of water.
With all of the technology available today, it’s easy to rent a portable DVD player for the back seat of let your kids play with your iPads. If you choose to do so, consider limiting “screen” time.
Books are great for all ages. Tried and true car games like I Spy, license plate search or the ABC game are always hits. Consider playing music that the whole family can enjoy like adult music that is kid-friendly and switching it out with children’s music that is also parent-friendly. Stories on CDs are also good. (You can borrow these from the library.)
No parent likes to hear, “Are we there yet?” and no child likes to hear, “No.” Instead, plan on stopping every two hours for gas, bathroom breaks and lunch and tell your kids the plan as well. When stopping for lunch, try to find a local school playground or park so that your kids can run around awhile and stretch their legs. Not a bad idea for you too. Never leave a stop without asking if anyone needs a bathroom break. You don’t want to stop too frequently.
Remember to Pray
Continue in prayer, and watch the same with thanksgiving. —Colossians 4:2, KJV
Even though your car is equipped with seatbelts and airbags, God is a better protector. Don’t forget to set an example by taking time to pray in the driveway for travel safety and to thank God for allowing your family to be able to go on this adventure. Be sure to pray for each meal as well and be sure to point out some of God’s miracles on the road like the mountains, wildlife, etc.