Four Tips to Navigate Family Road Trips like a Pro
Today we have a special guest author – Meredith Sinclair, author of “Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit?” Meredith is a mom of two boys and knows all too well the annoyances that the “Are we there yet?” phrase can have. Read on for Four Tips to Navigate Family Road Trips like a Pro and keep your sanity while traveling!
Memorial Day is often linked as the official kick off to summer and the start of family road trip season. According to AAA, nearly 80 percent of family travelers are planning a road trip this year, but higher gas prices mean shorter trips for most families this year.
I’m a mom of two boys, and if our trip is one hour or three hours, it still comes with the annoyances of packing up the car and finding a way to keep the kids entertained in a small space. Sure, we all know the fun is in the planning and doing- landmarks to visit, must-see views, parks to stretch your legs, local attractions and favorite eateries to try. However, the journey is just as important as the destination – and one part of the planning that many parents overlook is car time. It doesn’t take a lot of extra effort, but planning ahead with a few ready-to-go ideas that will keep the kids entertained (sans screen time!) so Mom and Dad can focus on the road and you can all enjoy your time together, certainly goes a long way.
Here are a few of my favorite creative travel tips and car ride activities that will help you navigate the backseat squabbles, “are we there yets?” and much-needed pit stops when traveling near or far with kids this summer.
- Car Ride Grab Bags: Hang a mystery bag in the back of the car. For each hour you’re on the road, have your kids open one bag to find some fun goodies they can use during the trip. For example, fill it with little toys or easy craft materials so when they are finished drinking a juice box they can turn it into a rocket ship or sailboat. The Juicy Juice Family Time website has so many great craft ideas.
- Pocket Full of Quarters: When my boys were younger, we used to take road trips to see their grandparents eight hours away. One of their favorite things was to stop at the Turnpike rest stops and buy those small toys and trinkets from the vending machines. We turned that into a behavior incentive! As the boys displayed good car behavior, we would dole out a quarter for them to pop in their pockets. They loved EARNING change for the little goodies that in turn kept them happy and entertained in the car for the next hour!
- Pack a Cooler: Sometimes when the crankiness or boredom sets in, your little one just needs a little boost (sound familiar?). Skip the greasy snacks and sodas with added caffeine, and save your extra cash for spending money, by packing your own cooler with no-mess options like lower-sugar Juicy Juice Splashers and high-protein trail mix to give them some extra energy.
- LEGO Challenge: Kids vs. Parents: This one can be done in a plane, train or automobile! Fill a plastic container (with a lid), with a slew of LEGO pieces in various sizes and shapes. Give each family member a small LEGO base- the large bases can be cut into 4×4 inch squares. Now write some LEGO building challenges onto index cards like, ”build the tallest building you can,” “make a LEGO playground prefect for you and your friends,” or “create a new animal no one has ever seen before.” Then, set a timer on your phone and everyone races to complete the task. The driver of the car or one “reader of the challenge” picks the winner each round.
Bonus! Airport Scavenger Hunt
If you’re flying to your destination, I created a “Bored-ing Pass” printable for kids and parents to use together during their long lines, layovers and delayed flights at the airport. Work together to find quirky things going on in the terminal.
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