At some point during each trip we take (I won’t deny it) I honestly feel like sticking my head out of the window just to get away from the noise and commotion. Don’t get me wrong, my 4 kids are great and they try, but they are little and even a 10 minute ride can feel like hours in the car. Especially when they are “strapped down”, it can be torture! Holiday traveling seems to be almost worse since it is harder to get out and stretch if there is inclement weather, but these 7 tips for holiday traveling more enjoyable will help you year round!
With many years of experience (my oldest will be 8 soon) I feel like I may be able to share what I have learned about long trips and what has worked and what has turned out to be a mess (literally).
Before I get started I have to tell you that I have really tried to stay away from movies in the car. I had a dvd player for several years then when it broke we never bought a new one. I felt like it wasn’t allowing my kids to learn how to entertain themselves in situations where there isn’t a lot of “room” to play.
Before you even get into the car spend a little bit of time preparing for the trip. This means, if you have small children, get bags and fill them full of toys/coloring pages/crayons, easy games and more that they can access on their own to find something to do.
There are a lot of things to add you wouldn’t normally think of but even pipe cleaners and tinfoil can keep them entertained for a while. If you have older (like 6-10 years old kids that like crafts you could have them make necklaces with beads or learn how to braid friendship bracelets. There are really so many things you can prepare and put into bags for them.
SNACKS AND DRINKS
This might just be the difference between an enjoyable trip and one where you want to rip your hair out! You may think I am kidding but if you have never been on a long road trip with a toddler who “needs a drink” or thinks “i’m hungry” every three minutes, you don’t really understand. I am not implying that you need to bring the whole contents of your whole fridge packed nicely into a cooler, but rather a variety of snacks that are finger friendly, little or no mess, and store without being cold.
Some examples are dried fruit, animal crackers or goldfish, bite size cookies, fruit snacks, licorice, pretzels, cereal, bite size marshmallows, popcorn, nuts and more.
For the drinks I usually just get each of my younger kids a sippy cup full of ice water, and give my two older ones water bottles full of ice water. I make sure that none of them leak before even taking them to the car, as to avoid spills. I don’t recommended taking a “refill” bottle unless it is a very long drive because you will be stopping a lot to let them go potty.
STICK IT TO THEM
Cookie sheets can be your best friend! You can often find them at the dollar store or consignment stores for very inexpensive and you will be glad you did! Had you child a cookie sheet and it will become their “desk”. They can use it to put their coloring pages/books on (the edges also help prevent lost crayons).
Get magnetic Alphabet/Numbers/Shapes/Animals/Objects and more that will keep them busy for a long time. They sell these in the Wal-Mart and Target dollar sections as well as at the dollar store if you want the cheaper variety Hand them a square of tinfoil and see what they can create.
This is a great place for the girls to do their bead work so that the beads don’t roll away, and they can also tape the thread down when they are braiding their bracelets. The possibilities to much to list here, but you know what your kids like, so this opens up a whole new door of activities.
If you have older children, they might enjoy reading, needle work, listening to audio books, journaling, or just visiting. Audio Books are a great way to make the trip seem like it’s going faster and get “reading” done at the same time. (I was able to get a free audio book from Audible for our upcoming vacation to my parents. I can’t wait to listen to it!)
You can have your kids create a Travel Journal before you leave and then have them document your trip in it. It will be fun for you and them to go back it read it even several years later. You will be surprised what you would have forgotten about. This is a great activity for mom or dad too!
If they like needle work they could make some homemade Christmas gifts while traveling and get a lot of the work done!
Playing games with your family is a great way to not only bond, but really have some fun. For younger kids, games like scavenger hunts, counting cows, bingo, card games, license plate game and more will keep them busy and they will have fun. You can find many of these online or make up your own. Your kids would love to do that before you leave!
Since the older kids wouldn’t find those games much fun, you could do Pictionary, Scattergories, Taboo, Apples to Apples, Battleship and several others that will not only be entertaining to play but fun. This is a great way for siblings to bond and get to know more about each other.
If you do have younger kids, it is always good to stop about every 2-3 hours and let them have a break. You can even pack a picnic lunch and go to a park to let them get some energy out. This gives everyone the chance to go potty, stretch and even maybe have a fun memory to keep about their travels.
I prefer to travel later at night. Not only does it make for much restless kids (because they will usually sleep), but the traffic is much less. This mean I get to listen to my audio book and munch on my snacks (like Cheetos lol) without my kids trying to get my attention every three minutes.
These are just a few of the things that I have found have really helped our long travel trips go better. They still have their MP3 Players, but I like those to be a last resort. This is also a great opportunity for me to work on reading with my daughter and help my other kids practice their letters and numbers. You can even sing! 🙂 There are so many things to do. These tips for Holiday traveling can be used all year round.
If you have other things that you like, please feel free to mention them! I am always looking for me ideas.