Road trips are great ways to take vacations with the kids. You can save money on airfare, and you don’t have to try to manage with all the gear that kids need when you go through security. Plus, you can stop as often as you like without having to worry about a stranger giving you the side eye when your baby is crying or your toddler has to pee for the millionth time.
The downside to car trips is that they are usually a lot longer. So you have to deal with kids asking “Are we there yet?” incessantly and complaining that they’re bored. Halfway through the trip, you start feeling like you would drain your retirement savings for first-class airfare just to get you there faster and without all the hassle.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to make the car ride a little more bearable so that you can save money and get through the trip without feeling like you are going to lose your mind. Here are a few things you can do to keep your kids busy on a car trip to make the ride more enjoyable for everyone:
Tablets are the magic devices for car trips. You can load them up with new apps, games and videos to keep the kids entertained for hours. Just look for new things to download just before your trip so your kids will be interested and engaged as long as you want them to have screen time.
Make sure everything on the tablet is age-appropriate since kids are masters at manipulating technology. Even if you think your 2-year-old can’t open other apps or videos, you will probably be proven wrong. Also, make sure you protect your tablet with BodyGuardz cases or some other strong case and screen protector. With all the drinks and snacks and general chaos in the car, it will be easy for the kids to drop the tablet or spill something on it.
Bring New Toys
Kids are always more interested in the new, shiny thing. You should bring some of their favorite toys to keep them occupied, of course, but you should also have a bag of new items for the trip. You can bring these toys out one at a time when you feel the energy waning and the kids starting to get restless.
You don’t need to spend a bundle on these new toys. Don’t run out and buy the latest high-tech gadgets. Just stick to inexpensive and age-appropriate items that match your child’s interests. For younger children, a new coloring book or small Lego set might be enough. For older kids, they might like a new puzzle book or a craft kit for making bracelets. You know what will interest your kids most. Make sure you introduce these items at the right intervals to keep the momentum going.
Have Interesting Games Ready
Even toys and screen time aren’t enough to keep kids engaged all the time. Everyone gets tired of looking down for too long. Therefore, you should have some road trip games ready that you can play together.
Some popular road trip games include:
- 20 Questions
- I Spy
- Road Trip Bingo
- License Plate Game
- Letter Game
Take some time to search online for a few new games that you haven’t played before, and introduce those when your old favorites are starting to feel stale. The games will keep you busy, allow you all to engage with one another, and help the kids see more of the interesting things that are on the open road.
Drive during Sleep Times
If you can stand it, driving during the times that your kids would already be sleeping can make a road trip go a lot more smoothly. Just bring blankets and travel pillows to make sleeping in the car a little more comfortable.
If you plan to drive at night, just make sure you take shifts with your partner so that neither of you becomes too fatigued to drive. For shorter road trips, you can plan to leave just before a nap time, or you can schedule it so that nap falls in the middle and breaks up the ride.
Stop Regularly for Breaks
No matter how many fun and interesting things you do in the car, you are still sitting for hours on end. That is going to take a toll on your body, which will affect your energy and your mood – and that goes double for the kids. It is essential that you take frequent breaks to give the kids a chance to stretch their legs and run around a bit.
When kids get that little bit of exercise, it can make them feel better and that will positively influence their mood. They won’t feel as bored because they will have had these regular intervals of activity. Just make sure you include these stops in your travel plan.
Road trips can make for some great family vacations. Just use these tips to make the actual driving portion of the trip go a little more smoothly for everyone. When you arrive at your destination, you’ll feel more willing to enjoy time together!