Now that the weather is warming up, you’re likely thinking of ways to escape your cell, er, cubicle and start enjoying the heat. But with the price of airline tickets, you might not be able to go quite as far on your vacay as you have in the past. In short, you might be contemplating a road trip with the family this year. But packing the kids in the car and heading across the country for a trip that is hours or days long could give you pause. Just the thought of listening to your children whine, cry, and scream in that small space is enough to make you cringe. However, there are ways to keep your kids occupied, no matter how long the trip is, and reach your destination without pulling out every last hair on your head. Here are just a few ways to ensure that the kids remain entertained (and you remain sane) on your summer road trip.
1. Games. The fallback of many a parent stuck in the car with kids who have an attention span about as long as the average commercial, travel games can offer a way for kids to interact with each other that is positive and far less messy than shooting spit-wads at passing vehicles (who knows what they’ll do to entertain themselves when you’re not looking?!). But if you want to avoid the mess that could come with board games, consider giving them handheld gaming devices like the PSP or Nintendo DS, or even downloading interactive games for all ages to your smart phone.
2. Movies. If your car has in an-vehicle monitor system and DVD player, you’re in luck because you can bring along your kid’s favorite movies and keep them quiet for hours. Of course, most cars don’t come standard with this feature. But don’t fret; you can still allow your children to while away the miles with the cartoons and Disney movies they love. By getting a portable DVD player (or one for each kid) on the cheap, you can have the same results. In fact, this method also comes with an earphone jack so that you don’t have to listen to their movies for the hundredth time.
3. Books. If your children are old enough to read (and it doesn’t cause them motion sickness), simply head to the library or the nearest book store to get them stocked up with enough literature to keep them busy for the duration of the drive. This could be a great way for them to catch up on summer reading for school, or if they’ve joined a summer reading challenge (such as the one offered annually by Scholastic) they can rack up some mad points on your trip. Younger kids might like audio books geared towards their age group (think Mother Goose).
4. Music. Your kids may be enamored with Raffi, The Wiggles, or even the children’s albums done by musicians like Jack Johnson and They Might Be Giants. So load up mp3 players and give them some headphones to head-bob their way through the many miles. Or try to remember some of the songs you used to sing on long road trips (99 Bottles of…um…Milk on the Wall…?) and get your kids to chime in.
5. Roadside attractions. With kids of any age, you’re going to want to arrange frequent rest stops for bathroom breaks, food, and stretching. But you can get more bang for your buck by stopping at roadside attractions. You’ll not only give your kids a much-needed break from sitting in the car; they’ll also be distracted from the trip and possibly even wear themselves out from the excitement of trying to climb the world’s largest frying pan (resulting in a nap for the next leg of the journey).
These are only a few ideas but there are lots of other ideas and car gadgets you and your family could benefit from when taking a road trip.