Ah, car travel. Often necessary for getting from point A to point B, and also characteristically challenging for parents. Today, Jennifer shares her five top car travel survival trips:
My family loves going on vacation. And after many trips up and down the Eastern seaboard, my kids have become hearty road warriors. While yes, many parents shudder at the thought of 8-20+ hours in a car with the under six set, fear not! Here are my tried and true rules for the road.
1. Be prepared (especially with butter tubs and air freshener). First aid kit? Check. Paper towels, wipes, and trash bags? Check. Empty butter tubs and air freshener. Huh? Kids will get boo-boos. Kids will make a mess. And yes, kids will get car sick. An empty butter tub or other small plastic container is handy for those prone to car sickness. You don't always have a spot to easily pull over, so if someone gets sick, have them use the container then close the lid and do a quick spritz with air freshener. When you're able to break at a rest stop, you can clean and reuse the tub if needed. The tubs and air freshener will become your new BFF on the road. Trust me on this one!
2. Load up on healthy food options. Guaranteed, if you say "Oh, we'll just stop somewhere if we need food," you'll find yourself lacking in rest stops with anything decent to eat. Keep a bag of dry food favorites such as cereal, granola bars, and trail mix in easy reach. Stock a cooler with fruits, sandwiches, and other perishables. Load the cooler with frozen water bottles to keep things cold and keep you hydrated on the road. Kids will get their share of special treats on vacation so it's good to load them up on the front end with healthy foods.
3. Have a variety of activities in easy reach. Entertaining the troops is key to everyone's sanity. I stock a bin of activity options and place it between the kids in the car for easy access to favorite books, coloring pages, and small toys (a travel favorite is the Leapfrog Tag Reading System). I also bought inexpensive binders to create scrapbooks for our last journey. The kids decorated their book on the road and added some favorite photos after the trip. Good project and great keepsake. Venerable favorites like Mad Libs, Bingo, and I Spy are nice ways to pass the time. Get creative and play "Once Upon A Time," during which we come up with our own fairy tale and everyone contributes a few lines. And use the time for learning by providing each child a small map of the US. When you enter a new state have them place a sticker on the map and share some fun facts.
4. Get them active outside. Use your time at rest stops to get the ants out of the pants. Lead the kids in a mini-yoga session, jog, jump rope, or bring a soccer ball to run around in the grass if you can find some. Bubbles also never get old!
5. And two of my favorite solutions for the road. Snack and Play Travel Tray from Star Kids have served us well over the years. And from personal experience, pack electrical tape. Odd sounding, I know, but this will come in handy if your child develops a fear of automatic toilet flushers at public restrooms. Simply place a small piece of tape over the sensor and voila, problem solved!
Hit the road this summer and make some memories with your family. And if you have other favorite road trip tips, please share them below in the comments!
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