For families with young children, going on a road-trip may seem like a terrible idea. The thought of spending hours cooped up in a vehicle with small children may seem like a recipe for certain frustration, tantrums, and misbehavior. That doesn't have to be the case, though. With some careful preparation and creative thinking, road trips can actually be a fantastic way to spend time with your children.
Before departing, pack a bag of things to busy your children while on the road. Snacks and drinks are a must. Bring drinks that can be poured into cups with lids to prevent spills, and snacks like pretzels, fruit snacks, and other foods that will not spill, melt, or otherwise make a mess. Pack wet-wipes or baby wipes to clean hands and faces, and bring along a plastic sack to use for trash. Books, coloring books, and crayons are great ways to pass the time. Crayola's "Color Wonder" books and markers are mess-free, fun ways for kids to draw and color on the road. Hand-held video games such as the Leap Frog Leapster 2 Learning System Portable Gaming Device and Nintendo DSi XL Handheld Gaming System can provide hours of entertainment, as well as portable DVD players. Remember to bring plenty of extra batteries and car chargers.
Small children have shorter attention spans than older children and adults, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Don't plan on spending more than two hours at a time on the road. Frequent pit stops to get out and move around are very important. Many fast food restaurants have PlayPlaces, and these can be good places to stop and grab a bite to eat while the kids play. Use the Internet to map your trip, finding kid-friendly places and landmarks along the way to stop.
While on the road, there are many games and activities you can play with your children to keep them occupied. Bring along CDs with songs you can sing along with as a family. Print out scavenger hunts before leaving the house, giving the kids things to look for like tractor-trailers hauling new cars, fire trucks, and cows along the side of the road.
There are many things you can do to ensure your road trip is a fun time for you, your children, and your entire family. With some creative thinking and preparation, a road-trip can be a great opportunity for your family to spend time together and have fun.