Mom’s Sanity Saving Tips for Road Trips
Road trips, especially at Thanksgiving time, when there are more people are traveling than any other time of the year can be stressful and challenging.
With some pre-planning and creative ideas, and input from your children, your family can also have an enjoyable car ride to wherever the roads lead you.
Just remember to bring extra clothes for everyone in case of any emergencies, extra snacks, water and juice; and your sense of humor. We asked the experts and parents what they do to survive and thrive on their road trips.
Here are a few sanity saving tips:
- Put a box of toys, a soft suitcase, or a diaper bag between two kids in the back seat. It gives them boundaries and also serves as an ad hoc table for games.
- Keep your itinerary flexible. One of the advantages of driving is that you pass interesting sites and signs along the way. Stop for anything that might be fun or just get you out of the car for a while.
- Take a break every couple of hours. You don ‘t have to stop for long, just give everyone time to use the restrooms or have a diaper change, and run around a bit. When you stop for meals, eat outdoors so your child can play while you relax. Or find several destinations to stop and explore along the way so you and your child will have something a little closer to anticipate.
Road Trip Activities
- Make up stories about people you see in the cars you pass. Have one person start, and everyone tries to add a little to the story.
- Find the Color: For younger kids who cannot read, this game is a bit easier. The first one to find the color outside the car wins. Or have each member of your family picks a car color and races to see who can reach fifty cars of that color first.
More tips and ideas from seasoned parents:
“I have one word for moms: portable DVD player,” said Debbie Feit of Farmington, Michigan. “I purchased one for our children prior to a four hour trip, and we got our money’s worth.”
Sharon Wren of East Moline, Illinois; and Dawn McBaine of Clifton Park, Ny., embraced the DVD route as well.
“Our in cara DVD player was a lifesaver on an eight hour drive home from a road trip in Indiana,” said Wren. “I brought along a bunch of movies that my kids liked. Even my 15 year old nephew paid attention when we put in ‘Monsters Inc’.”
McBaine purchased a DVD in a Bag from Wal-Mart to survive a 28 hour car ride to and from Myrtle Beach with her three girls.
“It really made a difference in the trip,” said McBaine.
“Are we there yet?”
Aside from or in addition to the DVD players, moms pack the “old reliables” in the backseat, such as small games, toys, and coloring books.
“I keep my eyes open in the few weeks before road trips for interesting books and small toys,” said Feit. “Party stores are a good place because they sell small and inexpensive party favors.”
Special in car games tend to work well with children of all ages, especially older children, such as keeping track of different license plates on the road and at the end of the trip, awarded the winner with a special treat.
“A few days before we leave, we each pick a current song on the radio, and count how many times we hear it,” said Julie Sturgeon, of Greenwood, Indiana. “As long as no one in the group had control over the selection, any part of the song counts, so the best way to win is pick something being used in a movie promotion or television commercial.”
Sturgeon added, “We make the car a real party atmosphere — someone starts This Old Man, and the next person has to fill in the verse with new rhyming words. So for instance, ‘this old man, he played one …’ and the next person in line says ‘he played knick-knack with a hot-cross bun.'”