Family reunions are the trends of the season. Call it traditional, but many still embrace the idea of spending holidays with families. Families living in different places are often faced with the problems of huge costs and the difficulty of travelling with little ones in tow. If distances are not too far, taking road trips is a very viable solution.
When there is adequate time, everyone can have a great time and benefit from a road trip whether it is a Christmas or a summer holiday. It adds value to the trip with the prospect of experiencing some real adventures along the way, not to mention the sightseeing opportunities. Your school-aged children would love this with fun activities and foods tucked in the car; these you must plan well to have a fun adventure along the way. Having very young kids can make you think and plan a little harder. Is a road trip doable without you tiring yourself out so that you don’t enjoy the road trip or the holiday at all?
Candyce H. Stapen shares with her readers some tips to enjoy road trips with children in this article, “Family travel: Tips for Road Trips with Kids” posted in USA Today – Travel Section.
Stapen said, “It takes planning and a sense of humor to make road trips with kids fun. To make the most of the drive, spend some of it talking with and listening to your kids. Get the conversation going by telling tales of your childhood. Kids love to hear about their parents at their same age.”
Here are additional suggestions, oriented to age groups, on how to minimize stress and entertain kids on the road.”
BABIES AND TODDLERS
- Understand your family’s rhythms of the road. Some families prefer putting little ones in pajamas and starting the drive after dinner when traffic diminishes and kids sleep. Others find that early-morning departures enable them to be at their destination before the late-afternoon, kid-cranky hours.
- Work with a tot’s schedule, not against it. Maximize little ones’ nap time by driving when they sleep and stopping for meals when they are hungry. Don’t expect your three-year-old not to be tired when it’s her nap time just because you’ve arrived at the children’s museum.
- Know what your child can drink in a moving vehicle. Some children can down a bottle of juice or milk in the car, but then upchuck it two miles down the highway. Best to give some thirsty tots only water until you pull in to a rest stop.
- Be prepared. Keep lots of wet wipes, paper towels, and diapers as well as a few trash bags and extra clothes within easy reach.
- Dress for the drive. Make sure the baby’s wearing easy to undo, comfortable clothing. Save the “grandma dress” with the lace and frills for after your arrival.
How do you keep older children – school-aged, tweens and teen – thrilled and enthusiastic during the entire road trip?
Smart planning: Babies and toddlers may entail smart planning and some physically-draining strategies to keep them happy along the way. For older kids, you just need to be smart and well prepared. For instance, Stapen suggests changing seating arrangements every so often and putting “neutral kids or adults” in-between highly active ones who tend to bicker more. This will minimize petty arguments and quarrels and introduce novelty too.
It’s a picnic: Bringing picnic foods (those you pack when camping or going on a picnic) can psyche them into thinking that a road trip is fun, just like camping or picnics. With a basket of picnic goodies and a tablecloth, you can also use your “toilet breaks” to have light meals on a park. Allow them to play Frisbee to get them into “it.” With bigger kids, you can stop in some landmarks they learn in school to give them a feel of an excursion or field trip.
Toys and games never fail: While cooped up in the car, get them into games suitable for their age and on the road. Augment these with games and toys you can bring along with you. New toys can capture and hold their attention for a while, but bring favorite amusements that guarantee pleasure as the novelty of the new toys wear off. Make sure electronic and battery-operated games and toys works.
A carrot at the end of the day: If your road trip will take more than a day, plan an activity at the end of the day (or the road trip, if it’s just for a day) that they can all look forward to such as a couple of hours in the play area/arcade or swimming pool. That will be your carrot, if they behave well during the day.
Bond with your kids: Think of the hours in the car as a wonderful opportunity to bond you’re your kids. Motivate them to talk about their friends, school, activities and interests. You must genuinely pay attention and ask them the right questions to motivate them to share.
Let them pick your stop: Teens would love to do “adult things” like deciding where to stop for a break or to eat. Give them a travel guidebook or map and equip them with an app that they can use to “navigate ahead” to stay busy most of the time.
Let them share music with you. Just before the departure, make sure to ask them the kind of music they would like to play and listen while on the road. Work out a schedule or plan to ensure that they’ll remain enthusiastic listening, even singing along their favorite tunes.
Finally, make a list of the travel essentials you need to bring and tick it as you pack. Be ready for the long trip ahead (drivers need to get enough sleep before the long drive and you need to check the road worthiness of your vehicle). It will be important to be armed to the teeth before you hit the road with your kids. Do some research; check out some important tips and apps you would need along the way. Enjoy your holiday; it starts right when you step up on the gas of your car/RV.