Tips for car travel

travelMany of us travel by car during the winter breaks from school. Sometimes the trips are long (60 minutes is long for a child), and often to unfamiliar places. The car trip itself can make happy memories with a bit of planning.  No video games or DVDs required.

  • Keep in mind that traveling with children is not like traveling alone.  A 4-hour trip to Grandma’s house can easily become 5 hours or more with children.  Focus on making the trip pleasant for all rather than making “good time” on the road.
  • Make sure everyone is buckled up safely. Adults should model wearing seat belts.  Children should be restrained in appropriate car seats at all times.  Make sure your child’s car seat still fits:
  • Plan your route to include regular stops.  Kids and adults need to get out and stretch every hour or so. A community park can be a great place to get the wiggles out and have a healthy snack. Look for those locations before you start out.
  • Pack some snacks to enjoy on your rest break. Cut up fruit, veggies and hummus, cheese sticks, or other family favorites will keep tummies from growling once you’re back in the car.
  • Talk with your children about all you see around you.  Point out hills, valleys, livestock, or tall buildings.  Each new place brings a wealth of opportunities to build vocabulary.
  • Pack a “car bag” for each child.
    • A toddler might have a favorite stuffed toy and board books. Don’t forget the CD of favorite “sing-along” songs. Make sure this little one has a favorite “comfort item” such as a blanket.  He/she may quickly fall asleep.
    • Crayons, a pad of drawing paper, sticker books, small toys or favorite stories can occupy a preschooler. Some simple car games such as “I spy with my little eye…” can help occupy your child.
  • School agers are notorious for asking “Are we there yet?” Keeping their minds busy is the key to a successful trip.
    • Try travel editions of common games like Uno or Battleship for school agers, maps to track the route, a joke book or book of travel games to play in the car.
    • Check the link above for other common games for school age kids, including some memory games and some printables.

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