My husband and I have recently braved a couple of long car rides with our three youngest children. Since they can end up brawling on the shortest of trips, we wanted to make sure they were occupied for the trips. I have tried a lot of things but these are the things I found most useful on our trips…
Managing a long car ride with kids:
- Travel trays: Each kid gets their own tray that has a cup holder and a pocket for storing books, writing utensils, etc. There are fewer spills and dropped toys this way, and everyone has a flat surface for colouring or games.
- Colouring book/Activity Book: I found some awesome travel activity books for Kellen and Avery at our local book store and a colouring book for Griffin. The activity books kept the kids occupied for hours.
- Magnetic activities: Dropped items is a big source of stress in our vehicle. Someone always drops a toy or pencil as soon as we start driving! Games and activities that are magnetic are perfect for avoiding this problem. Unless they drop the whole game…
- Homemade Activities: Create some bingo cards of things the kids will see on their trip and play a game of travel bingo; or make an alphabet chart and have them fill in each letter with a town they see on the trip…see who fills the most letter.
- Electronics with back up batteries: I pack as many of these as I can including a portable dvd player, game boy, ipod and mp3 player) and I make sure everyone has headphones.
- Books: Avery likes to read novels while Kellen likes to learn about things like historical events or natural disasters. I stock them both up with lots of books, and I include some age appropriate books for Griffin.
- Cameras: If you are comfortable letting your child handle your camera, or if he has one of his own, you can let him take pictures of the scenery along the way. Kellen loves to take pictures and I enjoy looking at what he has deemed photo-worthy on the trip.
- Maps: Let them track the trip and monitor the progress along the way.
- Food and drinks: This is a big one! Pack lots of easy to open, non-messy snacks and drinks. I like the non-spill water bottles and snacks arranged in small containers so that everyone gets their own container.
- Pillows and blankets: This will help them be comfortable and encourage a little sleep time during the trip.
- Baby wipes: They are great stain cleaners and quick wash cloths!
- Make lots of stops! It slows down your overall travel time, but makes it far more pleasant. Plus, kids need lots of bathroom breaks and there is nothing worse than a three year old screaming he has to poop when you are driving on a major highway with no rest stops in sight!
The most important thing to have on a long car ride with kids is patience. It doesn’t always come easy, but it’s the true secret to getting through unscathed.