Sunday, April 21, 2013

How to Travel with Kids

As we prepared for our trip to Ohio this weekend, I began going over my mental list of all I needed to do.

Part of this list included keeping 6 kiddos happy in a cramped SUV for 2 VERY LONG days.

How do we keep all those kids occupied for such long trips?

  • Each child brings a small backpack of 'toys' for the trip.  Items they can play with in the car or books they can read.  As the ages go up, this tends to include more books than toys, but... same idea.
  • Game boys/Leapsters are permitted for our long trips.  However, screen time is still limited to 1/2 hour increments -  usually once before lunch and once before dinner.
  • Snacks doled out periodically
  • A movie on the SUV's DVD player - to be honest, we tend to only watch one movie a day on these long trips
  • The favorite tradition, which Doug's family began when he was young -- handing out 'small gifts' throughout the trip.  I usually pick up little trinkets at Deals and the Dollar Tree for these.  They tend to be 'useful' items like chapstick, fun pens and pads of paper, or food items - favorite candies, gum, a special can of pop.  
    • Depending on what the trip is for (ie: summer vacation to the beach; a trip to the mountains; or like this one, just a trip back to Ohio to visit and have appointments) I will give 'themed' prizes.  Small beach balls or frisbies; bouncy balls; socks for cold trips.
    • Recently I also started giving items we can use in the hotel.  Each kid gets their own bag of microwave popcorn; a packet of hot cocoa to have while we watch a movie; maybe even a new toothbrush to use on our trip.
It's a fun way to break up the trip.  Gives the kids something to look forward to. Allows for something 'novel' to entertain them a bit.  Provides built in snacks or treats as well as fun 'traditions' for the hotel - popcorn and hot chocolate after a dip in the pool while we watch a movie and wind down for the night.

What do you do to keep kids occupied in a car during long trips?  Our children travel pretty well, but 10-14 hours in a car can test even the most patient and docile of individuals.  I think Doug is considering buying ME little trinkets to keep me happy along the way.  :-)

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