Since even before the days of Griswold, the family road trip has been a right of passage. Whether it's over the river and through the woods at the holidays or down to the shore for summer, the biggest challenge in any road trip is saving your sanity. After all you can only hear, "are we there yet?!" so many times before you go loopy. And honesty, keeping the kids engaged and entertained makes the trip more fun for everyone.
Road trips are something that my family really enjoys. We've trekked coast-to-coast, up into Canada and down through the Baja peninsula. Some of our best memories didn't come once we got to where we were going, but rather on the trip getting there. Like that one time we spotted a miniature horse riding in the backseat of a Subaru. <---True story.
Any great road trip takes some planning. Put a little work in ahead of time and it can have major payoffs. Here are some of my personal favorite tips for road trip survival... and FUN!
Road Trip Sanity Savers
Nothing is worse than getting 20 minutes into the trip and hearing, "I'm bored." Keep them busy. That's my motto. Busy Bags can be as simple or complicated as you have time for. A two-quart Ziploc bag is the perfect size for holding everything they need to have fun, snacks and more. Typically ours have;
- Kindle (or whatever tablet or smartphone they can't live without)
- Coloring Books (or blank paper. Because, creativity keeps 'em busy)
- Colored Pencils (they won't melt like crayons and can't muck up your upholstery like markers)
- Stickers (yes, even teens still dig stickers)
- Playing Cards
- Printed "Old School" driving games
- An Easy Craft (that requires no glue or cutting)
- Travel Journal (start them on these early, they'll become heirlooms one day)
- Hand Wipes
I break each item down into smaller bags, both for organization and excitement. They are allowed to come up with ideas for what they'd like in their bags, but can't see them before we're loaded in the car and on the road.
Even with all that prep there is still a pretty good chance they'll get bored. I've planned for that too!
This part is my favorite. I put together timed "surprises" in the form of envelopes we open on a schedule. If it's a long trip, like the two days it took to drive to Disney World, I open an envelope every hour - shorter trips it's thirty minutes. They never know what's going to happen and that makes the time fly.
Not into plastic bags? How adorable are these Road Trip pillowcases?! Thanks for the inspiration Amazing Mae.
Road Trip Envelope Ideas
- Drawing Contest - Think of it like Car Pictionary! Typically the reward is a buck or two to use in the vending machine at the next rest area or control of the tunes for a set amount of time.
- License Plate Game - Who can find the most states? Bonus points for cars from Canada or Mexico! Mom's Mini Van blog has a fun (and free) printable.
- Map It - If your kids have WiFi enabled devices this is a fun and educational game. Have them pick a city along your route and look up as much as they can about it. Then they make their case for why that place is interesting. The winner gets a prize. BONUS if they find a really cool place you can stop on your way back through. We've found the neatest places doing this.
- Out The Window iSpy - This can keep them busy for the whole trip, so maybe start with it? Each kiddo gets a sheet with the alphabet printed in double spaced rows. As they spy something out the window they write it down. I spy an apple orchard (more likely an Applebee's). I spy a big bus... and so on. Whoever gets the most items on their list wins.
- Treats - Keep some of the best treats upfront with you. Open a treat envelop and everyone is happy.
- CARaoke - Hands-down my favorite! I build a playlist on Spotify with our favorite songs to sing along with. Open that envelope up and it's as though James Corden came along for the ride!
See, road trips don't have to be so rough. Save your sanity and have tons of fun too. Catch ya in the carpool lanes.
~Lara of Team CertifiKID (mom of four and seasoned road warrior)
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