With Thanksgiving coming up next week and Christmas just around the corner, I know that a few of us have one (or more) multi-hour road trips ahead of us. In order to spark some creativity and (hopefully) bring a bit more sanity to your next long car trip, I have put together a “Top Ten” style list of Roadtrip Survival Strategies.
- Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks! We love to listen to traditional audiobooks while driving, but we also mix it up a bit with old radio comedy shows and Brian Regan.
- We drive a lot during naptime and when it’s dark outside so the kids can sleep through large chunks of travel. Only do this if you have good nighttime drivers (be safe!) and kids that can sleep in the car.
- Magnetize board games easily with a cookie sheet, a piece of paper, and magnets. Print off or create your own games on printer paper, then lay it on the cookie sheet and use the magnets as place markers and pieces.
- The dollar store is your friend! Right before our last long trip, I only had to spend about $20 there and came home with tons of awesome attention grabbers. I wrapped each one individually (color coded wrapping paper for each kid) and passed them out periodically when the kids needed a pick me up or something to do. We got glow sticks, books, beach toys and more. One of the surprisingly effective ones were socks with Disney characters on them- just little gifts that turned into extra special surprises to break up the monotony.
- If you have a GPS or mobile internet, you can easily find parks and playgrounds nearby to let the kids run around at (try searching elementary schools too!). We would picnic at the park (hit the drive-thru and bring it with you if you want) to avoid the fast food playplaces, but they are good options as well! If you don’t have GPS or the internet with you, stop and ask the locals- they are usually really nice about giving you quick directions.
- Use any museum or zoo passes that you might have at home. We bought a season pass to our local children’s museum, which gave us FREE ADMISSION to hundreds of other popular museums in the USA and Canada, as well as a handful in other countries as well. We would pull out the list when the kids got the wiggles, and we often had a museum pretty close to where we were. It was the BIGGEST lifesaver on our cross country trip last year. (We had ASTC memberships- here's a list http://www.discoverygateway.org/images/pdfs/astcn1111412.pdf)
- As a special treat, give everyone a $1 budget to buy anything they want at the gas station or grocery store rest stop. It’s amazing what $1 will do for morale sometimes! This is also a great hands on math activity. (When I was growing up, we also had to “earn” this money through good car behavior.)
- Play the license plate game with a blank map to reinforce map skills. I found an awesome coloring book at the dollar store that highlighted each state on a different page (or you could make your own), so when you find a new state tag you can learn all about that state as you color the page. Boom! Geography!
- Give older kids detailed road maps so that they can follow along and perhaps even help navigate. Then they know how far along you are, and YOU can ask THEM “are we there yet?”
- Include everyone in the decision making processes. Ask what they want to do, where they want to stop, and what they want to bring in the car- from activity bags to snacks. If they pick it, they are more likely to happily snack on it or play with it.
Have some more great ideas? Add your own travel tips in the comments!Kristen is a homebody travel junkie (if such a thing exists) who loves being home, but would also live out of a suitcase on the road if her family let her. You can follow her family's spontaneous homeschool and life adventures at Mundo Classroom.