Surviving Holiday Car Travel

With the upcoming holidays, many of us will be traveling. I know our family has a 2 hour drive ahead of them for Christmas Eve. We just did the 1 1/2 hour drive for Thanksgiving. Our saving grace? The portable DVD player. Nothing beats a little Dora coma to keep things smooth and quiet in the car (and oddly, I’m a fierce believer in limiting TV…but all bets are off when traveling with a 3-year-old for over an hour in the car!).

The following articles have some great suggestions on how to beat the car travel blues. I thought each had something great to offer.  Hope there is a factoid you can use!

Taken from Hip Moms Guide.com

1. Lower your expectations. If you expect perfect harmony, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. Even the best laid plans go awry. Know this going in and you’ll be more likely to gracefully deal with mishaps.

2. Be prepared. The Scouts got it right with this motto. You can’t get into the car with your luggage and purse and expect the kids to enjoy the scenery. Bring age-appropriate games & toys. I’d suggest buying one small new toy (or book) for each child, along with a bevy of favorites. Pack a backpack of fun they can dig through along the way.

3. Act like a camel: pack plenty of food and water. When my kids were in diapers, I brought lots of snacks for desperate moments and we stopped for meals. (An Oreo can buy you several minutes of peace.) Once they were potty trained, I found out that food and water means stopping – again – for the bathroom. Now we pack enough food (snacks, sandwiches, fruit), so we can keep driving until someone NEEDS to stop.

4. Plan on at least 3 extra bathroom stops. Nope, not for the kids. You can blame all those roadside Starbucks.

5. Books on tape. Okay, I realize this sounds like the dark ages to all of you video-in-the-minivan types. But give it a chance. There are some great books on tape (Ralph S. Mouse, Ramona the Great) that everyone can enjoy and they help kids use their imagination, too. Imagine, the picture isn’t right there in front of them! If your kids are old enough, you can even listen to Harry Potter.

6. Songs on tape.  Yikes. I hardly ever do this, but you really good moms out there might engage the kids with a little Raffi. I’d rather play I Spy for the eight-millionth time, but, hey, to each his own. If you can bear it, your kids will love you for it.

7. Stock up on stickers. If your kids are old enough to use stickers, you can keep them amused for quite some time simply by giving them 1000 stickers to paste in a notebook. For older kids, buy workbooks, travel game books, or print out the License Plate game and some old-fashioned car bingo . Washable markers are a good thing.

8. Remember that this, too, shall pass. One day, you’ll look back on travel with your tykes with fondness. It won’t be long before they’re tweens in their own iPod-driven world.

Taken from about.com

Pace: try to allow enough time for rest stops. Two hours of driving time, then a break, makes a good pattern for car travel with young children. “Rush”is a four-letter word!

Pack: a special backpack or bag for each child, with crayons, books, toys, activity sets, stickers, handheld games– including some new wrapped surprises for little kids. (But don’t give out all the loot at once!)

Print out some simple games to play in the car.

Pint-sized board-games: can be fun. Clue, Sorry, and Trouble are oldies but goodies. And a tray– or “travel desk” suspended from the back of the front seat– is handy, for any activity.

Pack: lots of snacks, such as fruit leathers, crackers, juice packs, treats… Also pack: a small cooler, or insulated bag, for cold drinks; plastic cups; bandaids, a dishtowel; frisbee and ball for rest-stops; and baby-wipes no matter how old your kids are.

Play: stories on audiobooks: they make the miles fly by. Play a story for the whole family on the car stereo system. Visit your local library to get stories on CD’s (maybe transfer to iPod), or use a download service like Audible.com.

Playrooms: Burger King and MacDonalds have great playrooms on major highways– a great boon for family car travel. Let the kids burn off energy while you order their food “to go”, to eat later in the backseat.

Playgrounds: every school and most parks have them! Little limbs need to shake, rattle, and roll.

Picnics: they’re fun; the kids can run around; and you save money, too. Pack your own picnic from home, or buy the fixins’ at a deli or grocery store. A big part of happy car travel is getting out of the vehicle.

Potties: it’s worth bringing a training pottie, if your child has need-to-go-NOW emergencies.

Pedal-to-the-metal: if you really need to hurtle from point A to B, use a DVD player or laptop, and turn your vehicle into the Cinema on the Highway.

Sleepy Time: kids fall asleep easily in the car, and a snooze can be a great way to let the miles fly by. Just be sure to allow lots of wakie-wakie time. Rousing a child from deep sleep because “we’re there now” is tough.

Pace: try to allow enough time for rest stops. Two hours of driving time, then a break, makes a good pattern for car travel with young children. “Rush”is a four-letter word!

Pack: a special backpack or bag for each child, with crayons, books, toys, activity sets, stickers, handheld games– including some new wrapped surprises for little kids. (But don’t give out all the loot at once!)

Print out some simple games to play in the car.

Pint-sized board-games: can be fun. Clue, Sorry, and Trouble are oldies but goodies. And a tray– or “travel desk” suspended from the back of the front seat– is handy, for any activity.

Pack: lots of snacks, such as fruit leathers, crackers, juice packs, treats… Also pack: a small cooler, or insulated bag, for cold drinks; plastic cups; bandaids, a dishtowel; frisbee and ball for rest-stops; and baby-wipes no matter how old your kids are.

Play: stories on audiobooks: they make the miles fly by. Play a story for the whole family on the car stereo system. Visit your local library to get stories on CD’s (maybe transfer to iPod), or use a download service like Audible.com.

Playrooms: Burger King and MacDonalds have great playrooms on major highways– a great boon for family car travel. Let the kids burn off energy while you order their food “to go”, to eat later in the backseat.

Playgrounds: every school and most parks have them! Little limbs need to shake, rattle, and roll.

Picnics: they’re fun; the kids can run around; and you save money, too. Pack your own picnic from home, or buy the fixins’ at a deli or grocery store. A big part of happy car travel is getting out of the vehicle.

Potties: it’s worth bringing a training pottie, if your child has need-to-go-NOW emergencies.

Pedal-to-the-metal: if you really need to hurtle from point A to B, use a DVD player or laptop, and turn your vehicle into the Cinema on the Highway.

Sleepy Time: kids fall asleep easily in the car, and a snooze can be a great way to let the miles fly by. Just be sure to allow lots of wakie-wakie time. Rousing a child from deep sleep because “we’re there now” is tough.

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Surviving Holiday Car Travel

  1. Ruth

    Hi…I’m a mom with teens…a few years ago we took a LONG road trip to go on a lot of factory tours (really fun…esp. KitchenAid!)…en route, we played every travel/guessing/singing game we knew and started inventing more. Eventually, we gathered them into Family Car Games, an iphone app with instructions for games families can play in the car (101)…games that don’t need equipment. Some are good for little ones. Some even use the radio. Here’s info. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/family-car-games/id315706203?mt=8 We still play them…on Thanksgiving, we got through 2 sentences in our Alphabet Sentence Game as we traveled from MA back to central NJ.

    The thing about talking games is that it really brings us closer together (we still remember funny stories we made up, even phrases, from years ago) , and lets the driver be involved but not distracted from driving. And since the app just gives instructions, nobody fights for it, or stares at it and gets sick…:-)

    We’re not a slick tech co…just a Mercer Cty family who found a way to make miles and hours pass easily.

    Wishing you and everyone safe and happy travels!

    Ruth Greenwood

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