Written by: Eva Benoit
What have you got planned for the family vacation this summer? Is it an exciting trip to the beach? Maybe a weekend out in the wilderness? Perhaps you’re visiting some relatives you haven’t seen in ages? Whatever it is, you’re sure to have a wonderful time playing with the kids -- once you get there. The road can be difficult, especially with the little ones, but there are some things that can make it easier for everyone.
A Thorough Cleaning
It may seem brand new, but strange odors have a way of seeping out of the car’s upholstery when you least expect it. Make sure this doesn’t happen by giving the interior a good going-over the day before you leave. It’ll also kill any invading germs and keep everyone healthy. Good Housekeeping offers up some helpful tips so you can do the job right.
Plenty of Snacks
Yes, there is the risk they’ll make a mess after all the cleaning, but everyone’s got to eat. While stopping for fast food along the way is tempting, you’ll save money by preparing food at home for your trip. Peanut butter and jelly is an old standby that never gets boring, though you can add something exotic to the mix, such as crackers and veggie sticks dipped in hummus. Don’t forget a few wraps or protein boxes, which are easy to munch on in the car.
Games and Activities
Bringing games and planning activities are great ways to keep the kids quiet. Travel Mamas, a website that specializes in hitting the road with the family, has a whole list of board games for kids of all ages, including the classics Checkers and Connect Four, as well as some new additions like Bananagrams. Crayons and coloring books are another wonderful way of passing the time -- as long as the road isn’t too bumpy, of course. Make sure you keep your kids’ toys and games clean to avoid picking up any unwelcome germs while you’re on the road.
Pillows and Blankets
Their little brains worn out from playing, the kids will likely pass hundreds of miles in peaceful slumber, and that’s all the better for you behind the wheel. You can make it easier for them to catch their 40 winks by bringing along a few pillows and blankets. It make take a little effort to find one that fits perfectly for the plane, train, or car, so take your time and choose wisely rather than wasting your money on any old thing. In fact, bringing their favorite pillows or blankets from home can cut down on cost -- and make them feel more at ease during the trip.
Some Screen Time
If they don’t doze off immediately, you could always put a movie on the laptop for the kids to enjoy. There are plenty available to keep them in an adventurous spirit as the miles pass by. The youngest of the youngsters would love animated features like “The Chipmunk Adventure” or “Madagascar,” while now might be the time to introduce the older ones to “Vacation.”
The Right Playlist
Now that the movie’s over, why not put on an album for the whole family to sing along to? There are plenty of kid-friendly music options that you can groove to while you’re driving. Metro Parent has everything you’re looking for to create a killer playlist that everyone can enjoy.
Everybody needs a bathroom break, and you could likely use a cup of coffee to keep your eyes from glazing over from staring at the road. Little do you know, this could be the best part of the trip. There are plenty of museums, historical sites, and outdoor attractions scattered across the country, and often not too far from the main road so you don’t lose too much time. Additionally, a lot of these places are free to visit, saving you money in the process!
Nothing can ruin the road trip faster than a boo-boo while playing in the grass at the rest stop or a headache from staring at the passing scenery for too long. Make sure you have medical supplies stored away in the glove compartment just in case. Your kit should include some alcohol wipes and Band-Aids for cuts and scrapes, as well as some junior Tylenol to dull the pain. And don’t forget the Dramamine.
Barring a delayed flight or a breakdown, everything should go just fine. Just remember to plan ahead, bring something to keep the kids entertained, prepare some edible goodies, and pack some medical supplies. Get ready to have some fun.
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles