Family vacations and road trips can be a lot of fun if done right, however it can also be equally disastrous for the inexperienced, especially if you have young children and toddlers with you. Dealing with crying, shouting or fighting children can be frustrating , annoying and exhausting for parents and can be dangerous as these behaviors are distracting for the driver as well. The good thing is these can be managed with the helpful tips from seasoned parents.
When planning a trip that includes kids, we need to understand that the minds of young children are very active and they have a lot of energy. Sitting in one place for extended periods of time can be difficult because they love moving around and doing something, young children especially toddlers need to be kept busy and entertained. So planning ahead will help keep undesirable behaviors to a minimum.
Here are a few hacks to make your family road trip a little bit easier –
- Keep kids apart – when traveling with more than one kid it is best to keep them as far away from each other as possible, to prevent them teasing, or fighting with each other.
- Give each child their own activity -While it is good to teach your children to share, when traveling it is best to have a separate car entertainment for each of your kids, one that is different from the other so that the children can switch after an allotted period of time.
- Drive at night – or maybe early in the morning, when the children are sleeping or have not yet fully woken up. This will give a head start to your journey and some peace as the children will either still be sleeping peacefully, or slowly in the process of waking up, and before you know it a few hours would have passed before you have to deal with their needs.
- Keep your kids in mind when planning the trip – The age of your child matters when going on a road trip. Older children will be able to sit for a longer period of time whereas smaller children get restless easily, look for rest stops that have good washrooms and an area for the children to move about, stretch their arms and legs and play for a bit. Maybe even eat a quick snack.
- Stock up on healthy snacks – Healthy snacks are a good way to pass the time and to satiate any hunger pangs before you reach a suitable rest stop, while also eliminating the need to buy unhealthy chips and chocolate bars at the rest stop. Non Messy snacks like grapes, oranges, sweet limes, apples, raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, even parathas and some dried fruit or homemade trail mix. Avoid sugary snacks and too many sweets and chocolates, this would include sugary drinks and juices as well. This helps reduce the mess and stickiness all around. A reusable water bottle for each person in the car is a good idea to keep everyone hydrated and to reduce spills.
- Be strategic and smart in your packing- Once you’ve finished packing for your trip, you’ll have to pack separately for the journey. Visualize the road trip and the activities you’ve planned and make sure you have all the things needed within easy reach. It will be quite a task to remove all the bags from the car to find that box of crayons that you packed with the clothes. You will also need-
- wet wipes, tissues, even toilet paper
- diapers (if you child is still using them)
- Bags to collect and dispose garbage
- sickness bags
- A first aid kit
- A small favorite toy.
- Flash light
- Power bank, chargers and charging cables for the gadgets you plan to use on the journey
- Plan activities and games for the journey – keeping the children occupied and entertained is a big task, but with the family involved in some of the activities, it will make for some fond memories and will help the time fly faster.
Here are 12 of our simple suggestions for kid’s car activities, which you can use for to help you get started on your own list-
- Road trip scavenger hunt – You could either buy one or make one if you’re creative enough and have the time. Children will have a lot of fun trying to find things mentioned on the card, you could even add some elements that require them to listen for certain sounds, or smells.This car activity for toddlers can also be played as a family, or each person could be given their own set of cards and the one who finishes finding the things mentioned in their deck first, wins.
- I spy- This is a good car entertainment for toddlers who haven’t learn to read as yet, similar to the scavenger game, the child has to spot the item that the leader “spies”, for slightly older children you can ask them to find something that begins with a particular letter or even make a riddle out of it for your child to guess the thing.
- Travel Bingo – This game can either be played for an hour or so by itself or in tandem with other activities like a sing along nursery rhyme session throughout the trip. For this you’ll need to make Bingo cards with images of various things you might get to see when traveling- an orange truck, a tree with flowers, a bridge, a dog, a fuel station, a signal and so on. You can make this activity on reusable cards, each player having a different combination of images. Use erasable markers to highlight the images found.
- Play Antakshari – Enjoy singing English songs, regional songs, even nursery rhymes or TV jingles will do. Use the end sound of the previous song to begin a new song.
- Sticker books- Sticker books are a great car activity for toddlers as it will keep busy fingers occupied for a long time without causing any mess, the children also get a sense of satisfaction watching their creations transform. If possible try getting reusable sticker books that can be used over and over again.
- Lacing cards or busy boards – These activities for toddlers will help them build their concentration skills and fine motor skills, with the added bonus of keeping them quiet in the back seat for some time. This is a good time for them to practice tying shoe laces using the lacing boards or similar travel busy boards.
- Magnetic games, blocks or puzzles – Any games using magnets is good to use for a road trip as it reduces the frustration of the toys continuously falling over in a moving vehicle,
- Travel tray activities – A travel tray is a good addition for the kids car activities since it is basically a tray with raised edges so that the chances of things falling over is greatly reduced. Toddlers and children can keep busy using the travel tray to play with kinetic sand or even playdoh. You can even make your own travel tray using a suitably sized carton. Make sure to tape up the sides to prevent them coming apart and to cover up any sharp edges.
- Coloring books or water pen books- Another popular road trip activity for toddlers and kids is giving them books to color, scribble and doodle on. Water pen coloring books use just water in a single pen which is to be used on special books. This greatly reduces the mess caused by spills and colors falling all over the place. If using regular crayons or colored pens, you can also make use of the travel tray to help keep things in one place.
- Activity books or road trip binder- Maintain a road trip activity binder for your toddler and kids. Take print out of assorted activities like scrambled words, find the words, cross words. Join the dots and so on, or you can buy an age appropriate book for them to keep them busy for hours in the car.
- Audio books and songs – these car entertainment options for kids really come in handy when everyone is tired or when it’s time for the children to take their afternoon nap. You can begin with some sing along nursery rhymes on the car audio system, and then move on to some soothing music or an audio book that your children might enjoy listening to while they fall asleep.
- Games or movies on Tablets or mobile devices – Though we are aware of how addictive these can be, yet we cannot deny that they are extremely useful tools to use as car entertainment for kids especially towards the final few hours of a long trip when exhaustion begins to set in. These can be used towards the last lap of your trip when you know you are going to reach soon and your child will automatically turn off their gadget when you reach your destination.
At EuroKids,we know the attention span of kids of various ages as well as how important it is for them to move about. Children learn by doing, which means they assimilate what they learn by exploration and through play. At the EuroKids centers, they are given multiple opportunities to practice the different concepts that they learn during the course of the day. Click Here to find a center closest to you and see for yourself how confidently children answer questions asked to them and the numerous activities they participate in.