My children are still quite young, so the amount of time in minutes for attention span and level of patience pretty much corresponds with their age. Long car rides are the most difficult form of travel with small children because of the hours of monotony and sitting still in one place. Since we travel a lot I’ve come up with a couple of tips to entertain kids in the car.
Bring Something New to Keep Kids Occupied in the Car
Do bring along the child’s favorite blankie and stuffed animal. Don’t bring the same coloring books, pencils and matchbox cars he plays with every day. Don’t bring crayons. They melt. Do bring magnetic travel games, washable markers and colored pencils with brand new coloring books, new picture books and new toys. A kid camera would be a really cool travel item, especially if you take a lot of photos on trips… your kids want to be like you, remember? I don’t buy my kids toys often, so trips are always looked forward to.
If you don’t want to buy new things each time you travel, keep some travel-only toys put away in the closet. I do this with a couple of the more expensive items, like learning computers. When we get home from traveling I put the toys back on the top closet shelf and they don’t get to play with them again till the next road trip.
Play Travel Games!
Eye-Spy, Count the Cows (or cars) and other games that keep small children looking out the windows and busy competing with mom or day for who can spy the most red cars first will help fend off the boredom. Older kids can keep track of the license plates they see by coloring in the states on a map of the country! Dad always printed out several of these before a trip and gave us a brand new set of colored pencils. We’d compare our colored maps at every stop!
Bring a Ball and Play at the Rest Stops
5 minutes. That’s all it takes. After everyone has visited the facilities get the ball and toss or kick it around the grounds for a few minutes before getting back in the car. Let the kids run and stretch their legs, laugh and enjoy the fresh air. 5 minutes delay on reaching your destination is nothing compared to hours of grumpies!
Drive During Sleep Time
When we travel we leave our house around 4am. This is far enough before their normal wake-up time and breakfast that the children go back to sleep and remain peaceful until at least sunrise, sometimes even breakfast time! By the time they wake up, we’re a couple hours into our journey and the kids have no idea they’ve already been in the car for 3-4 hours!
What tips do you have for traveling with small children?
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