Traveling With Kids: How To Make A Long Drive More Comfortable

The Holiday season is often a time of long car trips with the kids. You are visiting family and friends who sometimes live far away and being in a car for a long drive can seem interminable for children� and their parents. Fortunately there are ways to prevent these trips from turning into a nightmare. Here are some tips.

Tell your children what to expect

Take the time to prepare your children for what is coming. Let them know where you are going, how long it will take to get there, where you will be eating, where you will be sleeping, etc. While on the road, tell your children how much time is left before you get to your final destination. Giving them a way to track the car’s progress will help your children feel less insecure and prevent some behavioural problems. If your children can read, bring an old map on which you have drawn the itinerary: this way they will be able to see where they are traveling on the map and time will seem to go by more quickly.

Plan for breaks

Children need to move: sitting quietly in the car for several hours can be excruciating for them. So it is a good idea to leave early and plan several short stops along the way so they can get out and stretch their legs. This is also a good time to use the toilets, grab a snack, and allow them to run around and play a little. Getting out of the car for 15 or 20 minutes allows children to release stress and excess energy.

Engage the whole family

A car trip is a wonderful opportunity for a family to have quality time together. Some activities will make the trip more enjoyable and will help keep the infamous �Are we there yet?� and �Mom, I’m hungry!� at bay. Depending on the age of your children, you can:

Play music and have everyone sign along.

Play a guessing game. Pick an object your children know well and have them guess what it is by giving them clues. Once they have guessed reverse the roles: let your children pick an object and try to guess what it is.

Play �seek & find�. This is a simple game where you choose a specific object to look for, such as a red car or a white house. The first one to spot that object wins and chooses the next object to be found.

Tell a story. You can bring several small books or invent a story that your children have to finish.

Toddlers can enjoy playing with their favourite toys while traveling. Pack a selection of toys so you can alternate when they get bored with one. You can even buy a few toys to keep in the car that will be used only on long trips, thus maintaining a newness factor. Budding artists will appreciate drawing tablets, while others will have a great time with magnetic travel games such as Battleship or Junior Scrabble, or perhaps an electronic game.

For a small price you can also prepare �loot bags� to be handed out during the trip. You can fill them with inexpensive games and crafts from the dollar store, add a few pieces of candy and there you have it! These will keep kids busy for long minutes as they discover their treasures.

Before setting off, make sure everyone is dressed comfortably. Remember that snow suits are too warm for long distances in a car. Be sure to pack some snacks and beverages (especially water) and have fun! You will get to your destination relaxed and happy to have had a good time with your family.

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