For many people, a road trip seems like the best and safest way to travel this year amid the pandemic. Road travel means that you can toss everything you need in the trunk and get to your destination without having to be indoors with anyone outside of your immediate family. The disadvantage? You spend hours in an enclosed space with your immediate family, which can be … a lot to deal with.
When you have kids, the stress of a road trip can go from 0 to 60 pretty quickly. Because of this, it’s important to develop some strategies to keep everyone – including the adults in the vehicle – happy and content. To help you prepare, we asked parents to share their best tips to keep their kids busy and entertained on road trips. Some of these tips are especially good if you have young children; others can be so useful if you have children of all ages. Here are nine brilliant strategies for keeping the peace on family outings.
. Plan scenic stops along the way.
“My partner and I go to Florida with our two and a half year old several times a year. We make sure that the road trip feels like a vacation and not just how we get there, ”Kara D., 28, told SELF. This means that you will need to plan a few hiking, hiking and route stops with scenic views throughout the trip. That means you might find a waterfall along your route and stop there instead of at a highway rest stop, even if that means driving a little out of the way. “When you make the stops quick and effective, but still memorable, it makes a huge difference in everyone’s mindset,” says Kara.
2. Bring simple “painting supplies” with you.
Molly A., 36, keeps her two children busy in the car with the simplest painting utensils: sticky notes and a pen. “Draw, glue all over the car, repeat,” she says to HERSELF. The kids have things to do, and you don’t have to worry about spills or intense cleanup later. Molly also brings lap tables and coloring books as another form of entertainment.
3. Strategically distribute the toys.
Amy L., 42, brings a small collection of fun items on road trips but waits to hand them out until her kids are over what they’re already playing with. “If you give them all to the kids in advance, they won’t be that much fun,” she tells HERSELF. Some Things Her Family Loves: Little Dover Books Maze Books, Word Search, Wiki Stix, Coloring Books, Magic Ink Markers and Associated Books, Magnetic Travel Board Games, and Lace Up Toys. However, she avoids sticker books: “I don’t want to clean this up.” Fair.
4. Schedule a scavenger hunt.
“My kids and I travel a lot and I hire them by doing scavenger hunts,” Cathy O., 42, tells SELF. They make a list by looking for things they might see on their journey – like cows grazing in a pasture – and then ticking things off as they see them, she explains. “It gives them some buy-in and also a bit of competition to keep them motivated.”
5. Download all the audio books and podcasts.
Before you go, download some audiobooks and podcasts so you can still listen to them if your service isn’t doing well where you are driving. Molly suggests using Spotify (they have a whole Disney library) and also check out what your library has to offer. “I let each kid pick a few and they got so excited when it was their turn,” she says. Another professional tip? “Take a look at everything and make sure you like it too!”
6. Schedule trips according to your sleep schedule.
Sometimes the best way to keep everyone – including parents – happy is when you’re not messing with your child’s sleep schedule. Liz C., 30, has found that the best way to road trip her baby is to drive before bed. “For long trips, we increase dinner and bath time by an hour or an hour and a half, depending on when we want to leave. We put them in PJs, read a book and then drove off. “Corie N., 30, did the same. “We were both tired when we got home, but at least she was rested!”
7. Pack strategically.
This is especially important if you only plan to spend one night in a hotel while traveling. “If your road trip includes an overnight hotel stay for the whole family, I recommend packing a small bag with the items you need,” says Amy. “It makes it so much easier than fishing out everyone’s pocket and dragging them all in and out.” Or think outside of the suitcase. When their children were younger, Colleen C., 56, packed each child’s clothes in a three-drawer storage bin. “I loaded it right into the back of the car and it was like a moving chest of drawers. It kept things organized with no suitcases or travel bags spilled all over the floor. And when you arrive, there’s no need to unpack! “
8. Don’t feel bad about electronics.
If it keeps you happy, busy, and as relaxed as possible, you don’t need to feel bad about using technology to your advantage. If your kids all have their own electronics, make sure you get them their own headphones, says Amy. It really is the only way for anyone to do their own thing and keep the peace. Another suggestion for electronics: Caitlin S., 34, sets up an iPad on the back of the seat so her child can watch videos on it.
9. Synchronize the breaks in the bathroom.
The best way not to get a toilet break request every 30 minutes? Get everyone on the same schedule. “Each rest stop includes a little break for everyone to synchronize our schedules,” says Amy. Even those who say they don’t have to go. And try to get rid of pent-up energy during these stops. “If possible, we stop at playgrounds for lunch breaks and run, jump and stretch too. I say things like, “Okay, I’ll see how fast you can run from that tree to that picnic table five times! Go ‘”In her experience, there is much less fighting among children when everyone is a little tired.
This article is presented by Volvo.