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Traveling in the Car with Kids

Traveling with one child in the car can be quite hard but if there are two of them, that already turns into a challenge for any parent. But there is something good in it as well - you have a time, a lot of time. Make it to be fun. Use it for talking, singing, reading and storytelling. A long journey in the car gives you an opportunity to spend more time for interacting with family.

Depending on distance of your travel, plan additional stops for sightseeing (children with get some movement). Children will expend energy every time they are out of car. At the stops make children to do some walking, playing catch, running with the dog, etc. The more active kids will be outside the car, the more likely they’ll nap when travel resumes.

To make your journey enjoyable for everyone, you need to do some planning before:
  • - how long the trip takes;
  • - where you can stop to eat, sleep, use bathrooms;
  • - any children friendly attractions on the way;
  • - what things to have in saloon of car and what to put in the trunk.

And you need to do some packing of the car already night before you leave. Because it takes time to fit in all your luggage, cribs, strollers, car seats, snack, toys... Ok, don’t pack everything, but at least car seats for children and strollers for the beginning. Put the entire luggage in one place so it’s easier to load it the car right before leaving. But you definitely need to fill the gas...

Activities in the car will depend on the age of children. But it's not about you to entertain them. It's about everybody having good time and having fun. Task of parents is to be prepared with activities and present them when needed - a game, a book, a CD-player. And one thing to be aware of – family vacation starts at the moment you get in the car, not when you arrive at the travel destination.

Take a small toy that will entertain kids for a while. For older kids Game Boys are good option - will keep them occupied for hours. Younger ones will enjoy the book they have read before. Take some favorite toy, so children have something familiar with them. And can pack some 'surprise' toys as well. It can be inexpensive and simple ones, but children will enjoy the fact, that they got something new (and it will help to get attention off the new toy shops at the destination).

When I used to travel with my younger sister and brother, we played the counting games of “who first will count 10 yellow houses /cows / 5 red cars on the way" (count a horse as a bonus and so on). Two or three times of getting the result was enough but it kept them quite for a while. Sometimes I set a rule, that you can count just on your side of the road, sometimes no rules or one can use distraction tactics( for opponent to miss the subject).I remember ones they were counting cars of certain color, but there was one of the same color going right behind us. It was kind fun f for me - who will first realize it.

Some other game of paying attention to the road is to give a list of items to watch for while driving. The list have to be prepared before, but you can add any items on the way you want - tractor, person with the dog, food store, church and so on. To make it more interesting, at the end there was a 'winner' and 'second place' surprise prizes for both games.

Let your children have their own travel map. Show them on the map where you are going. every time they ask 'are we there yet?' have them take their maps and see for themselves. For more fun, print driving directions for children as well. Actually you can print map out of internet but it’s more fun for kids, if it’s drawn by you and has major stops, landmarks, cities and destination. Home made map gives them clearer picture and can have special landmarks, such as 'a big bridge', 'a lake', 'a tunnel'.

More travel games for children that are fine during the trip:
  • - small magnetic puzzles
  • - stick-on play sets
  • - sticker books
  • - reading books (but with a lot of pictures of bigger letters as regular)
  • - small Lego sets
  • - small plastic cars, figures, animals
  • - regular deck of cards
  • - walkman or CD player with stories / songs.

If you will be traveling by car all day, take some lightweight blankets and pillows with you. Have some food prepared even if you have planned some stops for meals on the way. Some snacks, fruits and juice drinks will be like a picnic in the car. Happy kids are better than hungry kids.

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New York City sightseeing with kids How to plan family vacation Family cruise vacation

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