Summer Road Trip Survival Tips with Kids
Staying Sane & Having Fun with Kids in the Car
Summer vacations often include a family road-trip. There are countless destinations to explore from the kid’s favorites, exciting and entertaining roadside attractions to the adult favorites, historic destinations, and educational journeys. But, as many of us know, the quality time we spend with our kids won’t be all about the sunshine. Often, the majority of time will be spent in the car. When the kids are getting antsy and traffic is at a standstill, what you need is a summer road trip survival guide!
While planning a road trip during the summer months, there is more to plan for than having fun in the sun. A lack of mental stimulation and ensuing boredom during the trip is something the modern parent often forgets due to all of the available technology. A good schedule and plan plus some quite-time games for your travels can help keep the children happy, quiet, and still having fun (and hopefully keep you sane in the process)!
How to Survive a Road Trip With Kids
According to a survey done by AAA:
- 35% of Americans planned a family vacation of 50 miles or more in 2016.
- Gas prices in the summer of 2016 were the lowest they’ve been in 12 years.
- The most popular types of family vacation are: road trips (69%), visits to national parks (49%) and trips to theme parks (42%).
- Two thirds of all Americans surveyed said that spending some quality time together, as a family, is the most important part of their vacation.
Chances are a lot of that quality time is going to be spent together in the car. So, how can you keep the kids happy (and quiet) and survive the ride? Here are some tips to make your quality family time as enjoyable as possible:
Plan a route, plan your stops, and make estimates as to how long you’ll be in the car between stops. Let the kids know how long they’ll be in the car. This will give a preemptive answer to “Are we there yet?”
Ask your children to pack a small bag for themselves. Tell them to fill it with fun things they can do in the car, but make sure it’s light enough for them to carry! Pack a few fun surprises yourself, too, in order to beat boredom.
Eat a Good Breakfast
Traveling on a full stomach will improve everyone’s mood, and it will also fight car sickness. Eat a low-fat meal with a healthy amount of protein.
Pack a bag and a cooler with snacks. Keep them in an accessible location where you can easily pass them out. Bring some water and juice, and mix your snacks up with several choices!
The Road to Dreamland
Nap time might be the most mercifully quiet point of your trip. Bring some pillows and blankets to make it easier for the kids to get comfortable and nap the trip away.
Take a Break
There’s only so much time you can spend in a car. Stop for bathroom breaks, lunches, and breaks to stretch out. Give the kids a little time to run around and burn off some energy before piling back in for the next leg of the trip.
Play Some Games!
Madlibs, hangman, and trivia games are great to play together as a family. There are plenty of other games you can play on the road too, like hunting for the alphabet among license plates or counting how many different state plates you see along the way.
Rely on your partner! “Entertainment” duties will probably fall to the person in the front passenger seat so switch drivers often to give each other a break from the dull road or the crazy kids.
Books and Screens
A book or an electronic game is an easy way to keep a child entertained. If you’re worried about your children spending too much time glued to a screen, restrict the use of electronic gizmos to car rides. You’ll have plenty of time to spend as a family at your destination.
Charge Your Devices
Make sure that everything is at 100% power the night before the trip! It will be difficult and time consuming to charge devices on the road.
Fight Car Sickness
Reading and playing games sometimes result in car sickness. Here are a few tips to fight it:
- If someone starts to feel sick, tell them to stare ahead at the road for a little while.
- Pull over and take a water break. You can get moving again once everyone feels better.
- Ginger ale or carbonated beverages help to settle some stomachs. Protein-heavy snacks may also have the same effect.
Some people get motion sick, even if they aren’t reading or gaming. Take this into account when you plan who will sit where. The front seats are often better locations for those who are prone to motion sickness.
Have One Parent in the Back
Sitting with the kids isn’t such a bad thing! You might settle them down just by being near them, and you’ll have a lot more quality time together.
Those tips should ensure your survival. Here are some other ideas to make the trip more fun!
- Study the route and the destination along with your children. Use books, magazines, pictures, and the Internet to learn a little history together.
- Time permitting; give each child the chance to pick one place they want to visit at your destination. For example, maybe there’s an aquarium or a museum that someone is interested in.
- Hand out disposable cameras and journals. The photos, drawings, and journal entries will make great memories!
While planning a road trip during the summer months, there is more to plan for than having fun in the sun. A lack of mental stimulation and ensuing boredom during the trip is something the modern parent often forgets due to all of the available technology. These quite-time games for your travels can help keep the children happy, quiet, and still having fun (and hopefully keep you sane in the process)!
More Amazing Road Trip Sources!
Sightseeing Road Trips – So much to see! These Memories are worth Stopping for…
- National Parks to Visit on your next Road trip
- Unusual Roadside Attractions across America
- Welcome Signs Across America
- Road Trippers – Most Amazing Roads in the World
- Unforgettable Road Trips in America
Driving Tips for Successful & Safe Road Trips – There is no fun without safety and comfort first
- Most Congested Highways in America
- Car Safety Tips Everyone Should Know on your next road trip
- Pets and Car Travel Safety
- Common Road Trip Dangers on the Road
- Road Trip Survival Guide Infographic and Links
- The Essential Guide to Emergency Car Kits
Road Trip Snacking & Packing – Good travel food means healthy-good spirits on the road
- Best Road Trip Snack Recipes (Infographic)
- Video Road Trip Snack Recipes
Boredom-Crashers – Fun Activities in the Car – The Ultimate Lists (No devices required) Eyestrain and motion sickness can result from too much time staring at a screen, so don’t rely on digital devices to keep your kids busy. Here are some alternatives:
- Ultimate List of Brain Games and Riddles to Play in the Car with Kids
- Songs to Sing in the Car with Kids
- Card Games to Play in the Car with Kids
- Boredom-Crasher Games in the Car for Kids (Infographic)
Road Trip Apps – Your On-The-Road Personal “Concierge”!
Mini-Me Explorers – Kids on Navigation Duty
Car travel with kids can be annoying. There are some simple ways to avoid it by having kids participate in keeping track of where they are:
- Hang up a map inside a plastic sleeve with a dry-erase marker. Tell them where they are intermittently so they can follow along.
- Create a kids’ travel journal or binder full of maps or other activities. Allow them to mark off in their books where they are.
- Give out “state passports” when passing state borders or major landmarks. Or you could celebrate in some other way: Have a car dance party, or sing a song about being in a new state!
- Give out presents based on timed intervals to create less pestering. When the time reaches what you wrote on the sticky note, then you can both give out small treats and tell them where they are.
When Silence is Golden Fun games can be somewhat loud and boisterous. Parents shouldn’t have to drive with migraines. These quiet road-trip activities can give you a well-needed break:
- Trick out a lunch box for Legos. Kids can spend hours creating their masterpiece while still keeping all of their building blocks contained.
- Sew a pocket into a pillowcase for the kids’ books. If they don’t get carsick, reading is an excellent, quiet road trip activity for kids.
- Create a colorful “I-Spy” bottle full of interesting trinkets. It’s a super-quiet activity that’s great for when one sibling is asleep and the other isn’t. Just have a list of all the items inside it and have them check off the ones they find.
- Give the kids some tin foil to create fun sculptures. This is an old-school camping game. Kids can enjoy a lot of the creativity of play-dough or markers, but without making a mess.
These are the basics of how to travel with kids; many more parents have come up with some truly amazing road trip ideas. For kids looking to go on an adventure, time will certainly fly when you plan to have fun!
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