When I was a child going on vacation meant visiting grandparents. It was only a drive of about 1 1/2 hours in the 'air-conditioned' car which meant that the windows were rolled down! As an only child, I had the back seat to myself'not counting my Cocker Spaniel Pudgie and my parakeet Pepper. I could easily get absorbed reading the Reader's Digest. We made one stop for a bathroom break and I would order a Big Red. Boy' am I aging myself! These trips were always fun!
With the economy the way it is this summer, you may be going on long drives with children for your vacation too. So how can such a trip go as smoothly as mine did as a child? A few tips include:
1. Explain the rules of the road to your child before you leave. Word it positive, what you what the child TO DO rather than what you don't want them to do. Let them know the length of the trip and approximately how often stops will be made. Discuss whether purchases will be made for food/drink along the way or if you will be taking an ice chest or picnic basket along. Also include safety tips as well as what to do should you get separated somewhere.
2. Help your child to be creative in selecting toys, games etc. to take along for the drive. I would suggest that the family avoid tuning each other out the entire trip with technology. What's the fun if everyone is hooked up to an IPod, TV or video game? That can be fine for awhile, but set limits to it.
Then play some games as a family and enjoy conversation. Games could include finding certain state license plates, singing, telling stories or reading a book out loud. You could also play the 'What are your all time top three favorite _____?' This could be favorite colors, restaurants, vacations, books, stores, movies, meal, countries you want to visit, desserts, etc.
3. Bring along familiar items that will help the child to feel secure. I always wanted my pillow'in fact, that same pillow went off to college with me!
4. Stick to as much routine as possible such as similar bedtime, meals etc.
5. Once every hour or so stop at a rest stop and make everyone get out of the car and walk around. Maybe even throw a Frisbee or play catch. You all will arrive at your destination feeling more rested.
Drives on vacation shouldn't be just endured--they are meant to be enjoyed, so enjoy! Happy travel!
Copyright 2009, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.