THE MAIN THING TO REMEMBER IS TO PLAN TO STOP EVERY 2-3 HOURS AND LET THEM GET OUT AND STRETCH THEIR LEGS. SOMETIMES THOSE CAR SEATS CAN BE PRETTY HARD TO SIT IN, SO GIVE THEM A LITTLE BREAK AS NEEDED. HERE’S A LIST OF IDEAS TO KEEP THEM BUSY AND HAPPY ON THE ROAD (or Plane.)
1. Surprise Packages: Prepare ahead with paper bags of items to be given out every 25, 50 or 75 miles. It takes a little bit of preparation, but it REALLY helps young children.
2. Travel Tickets: Use colored construction paper to cut out “tickets” for your trip. Give your child a pre-counted baggie full of tickets. Every half hour (or every 30 miles), they can turn in one ticket to you. When their ticket is gone, the trip has ended. This really helps young children get an idea of how much time is left on the journey!
3. Aluminum Foil Modeling: Have them mold it into anything they want!
4. Drawing Boards: Such as Magna doodle, Etcha Sketch, and small white boards with dry erase markers. Use the washable markers!
5. Hand Held Games: Such as Simon and Heads up.
6. Pipe Cleaners: Pack a new bag of multi colored pipe cleaners and let their imagination run wild!
7. Felt Boards: You can even make your own! Cover a piece of cardboard with felt. Cut out different shapes from various colors of felt.
8. Colorforms: I’ve found them at AreYouGame.com. They have Bob the Builder, Blues Clues, Paper Doll Dress Up, etc.
9. Animal Sounds: Make animal sounds and let your children take turns guessing. If your children are able to do so, let them take turns making animal sounds and have you guess the animal.
10. Play Classical Music: When it’s time to calm the kids down, a little classical music helps young children…so does a Dr. Suess tape, or a story tape.
11. Have a Puppet Show: Do the show in the car, the hotel, restaurant or anywhere, kids love puppets! Break up the monotony by having your puppet “tell” the kids what’s coming up next on the trip. If they won’t listen to you, maybe they’ll listen to a funny puppet!
12. Give Each Child a Trip Bag: This can be a backpack for each child, or a canvas bag. Kids can load it up with all their favorite road trip stuff and other toys so they can have it handy and easily accessible to them in the car.
13. Magnetic Games: Like the Wooly Willy game! You use a magnetic wand to draw hair, eyebrows, etc. Or try the doodle balls, or others. Keep them stashed away and use them only on the road so the novelty stays fresh.
14. Cookie Sheet Magnet Board: Use an old cookie sheet and a collection of magnets such as ABC magnets. Older children might like to use it as a tray for snacks or for playing cards or other games.
15. The Animal Game: Play it sort of like 20 Questions. Take turns thinking of an animal and giving everyone clues about it until they can guess it. “I’m thinking of an animal that has a long neck and eats leaves.” etc.
16. Chalk and Black Paper: This makes interesting art work and is easy to clean up. You can use colored chalk or just white chalk.
17. Name the Clouds: What do they look like? Find as many different shapes as you can.
18. Silly Sound Game: Make up your own. Make sounds for different things you see. For example, say “beep-beep” when you see a yellow car, “ding dong” when you see a red house, etc.
19. The Rainbow Game: Call out a color and they have to find something that color. Make the older kids find five things while the 2 year old looks for one.
20. Keep Them Happy With Food and Snacks!
Suggestions are: Trail mix, cereal mix, apple slices, string cheese, bottles of water, juice boxes, fruit rollups, etc.
GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS
1. Use plenty of zip lock bags for everything.
2. Keep a box of baby wipes in the ca.
3. Bring a potty in the car. ALSO—Line the bottom of the little potty with a disposable diaper so that nothing spills out—especially helpful if you aren’t able to rinse it out right away.
4. Use a plastic “toy leash”. Keep stuff within reach with a child-safe plastic leash. Attach one end to the car seat strap, the other to the cut handle or favorite toy.
5. Pack a handy change of clothes.
6. Bring pillows and blankets for comfort.
7. Lay towels or sheets on the seats to keep the car clean. (This makes it easy to dump out the crumbs!)
8. If possible, leave really early in the morning and pack the car the night before.
9. Make at least one stop last an hour or two right before bedtime if you are traveling late into the night. Let the kids run around and wear themselves out.
10. Keep an emergency first aid kit handy. Include cold medicine and pain reliever, just in case.