Last updated on November 6, 2019 at 12:34 pm
Family vacations can be a lot of fun, and maybe even a little relaxing. But before you get to your destination there’s inevitably a long trip in the car. Hours on the road can be torturous for kids – and you – if you don’t plan ahead.
After escaping the stress of work, the last thing you want on the first step of your vacation is excitable feet kicking the back of your chair and constant accusations of “he started it!”
That’s no way to start (or end) a vacation – and you don’t need to! Here’s how to keep kids happy in the car during those hours on the road.
- Play games that won’t distract you from the road. While it’s difficult to jilt the classic I-Spy, anything could happen on the road in the time you spend trying to find your chosen object. Instead, play games like 20 Questions. Everyone can get involved, and the quick-fire nature of the questions means that you should never be spending too much time thinking instead of concentrating.
- Have a singalong. The road trip singalong may be clichéd, but with the excitement of going on vacation the mood might just be bright enough for you all to tone those vocal cords.
- Share a storytelling experience. Pre-plan and find an audiotape that everyone can listen to or if you’re feeling extra creative, try making your own tale. One person says one sentence; the next adds another, and so on.
- Bring treats. Ideally ones that are low in sugar (to refrain from giving your kids even more energy). Think popcorn, carrot sticks, or even pistachios … just make sure you have a way to deal with all the shells.
- Technology is your friend. With phones, laptops and DVD players at your disposal, it’s easier than ever to watch a movie on the go. Don’t forget car chargers!
- Create a countdown. Segment your journey into half-hour periods with an activity every 30 minutes. If your kids know that they have any of the above activities to look forward to in only a matter of minutes, the true length of the journey will be diluted into easier-to-manage segments.
- Plan a play date right before you leave. Enlist some of your friends to supervise playtime (make sure it’s full of high-energy playing). Not only will this make your journey easier, it will also give you some valuable packing time with minimal distraction.
- Plan stops on your trip. A little legwork can go a long way to break up the monotony. Are there any funky attractions en route? How about some child-friendly museums or a picnic spot with great views? A break from driving will not only help to stretch the legs, but will also help you re-focus for the rest of the journey ahead.
- Color! A classic kid standby. Need something to color? Plymouth Rock has you covered. Here’s a downloadable coloring book featuring our mascot Otto! Your kids will have a blast helping Otto navigate has way through the tricky maze to the Crashbuster van, spotting the difference between pictures and coloring everything in.
If you are planning a family road trip, make sure to brush up on your skills to prepare for the unexpected, like replacing flat tires, reviving dead car batteries, reporting an auto insurance claim and driving through a rainstorm.
If you have more tips to keep kids happy in the car on a long road trip, share them with us and everyone else!