I have the best memories road tripping with my parents when I was growing up. We went to so many places - Yosemite, Canada, Grand Canyon, Death Valley National Park, Zion National Park, Tahoe ... the list goes on. I still love road trips and enjoy passing that love on to my girls. Back then, before electronics, I remember passing the time helping my parents navigate using our trusty Thompson maps, daydreaming out the window or napping. Nowadays, kids need a bit more entertainment so we do a few things to ensure road trip success:
Pack an Activity Bag per Child Depending on the age of the kids, they will usually want to do different activities. We used to have each girl pack their own backpack with activities that would keep them occupied during the trip - books, sketch books, colored pencils, favorite blankets, stuffed animals and snacks. Backpacks worked for awhile but I found that once the items were pulled out, they ended up on the seat or the floor rather than back in the bag. We've now switched over to back of seat organizer to house all their stuff. Each girl gets their own so everything is within easy reach and clutter is now kept to a minimum (hallelujah).
Load up on Snacks For some reason, the girls' appetites kick into gear the same time I shift the car into drive. So to maintain sanity, we pack a ton of snacks. We will pack a mix of "good for you" snacks (cheese sticks, raisins, pretzels, grapes) and road trip food (aka unhealthy snacks - this list includes things like Cheetos, Oreos, Gummy Bears, Sour Patch Kids). Having food handy helps to limit the number of stops as well as overdosing on unhealthy food options. I'll usually let the girls choose their own snacks and keep them handy in their front organizer. Anything that needs to be kept cold will go in a mini cooler between them.
Unleash the Gadgets On road trips, we relax our rules about screen time and gadget time. We will build in periods of screen-free time but in general, I'm pretty laissez-fair about them using their ipads or watching movies. There are a few things to remember prior to departure when it comes to gadgets:
Have some Books on Tape ready Listening to books is always a good source of entertainment for the girls. We've had success with a few in the past - Magic Treehouse, Francis, Charlotte's Web, Harry Potter. For our next road trip, I have a couple earmarked to bring with us - The Chronicles of Narnia, The Golden Compass, and The Land of Stories. This counts as screen-free time.
Travel Games Once in awhile, the girls still like to play car games. This is a great filler when you don't want them to be on their screens. A few we play are I Spy, 20 Questions, Punch Buggy, and License Plate game. Always a good source of interaction with the kids for about 30 minutes.
Be Prepared In my own stash of stuff, I'll always bring a few things - sanitizer and baby wipes (my kids are GUARANTEED to make a mess) and a few other activities that can keep them occupied in case they get bored with what they've packed. Some things I'll bring are embroidery floss in a mix of colors for making friendship bracelets, wiki stix, pipe cleaners, and word search books. These have definitely saved me a few times on longer road trips.
Leave Late Depending on the length of trip and how I am feeling, I might opt to leave later in the day so that the girls will be passed out for a good portion of the drive.
Lucky for me, my girls have become seasoned road trippers. Now that it's summer, it's time to pack up and go ...