Road Trips and Your Child – How to Deal!

With the weakening economy, more and more families are forced to trim the fat off their yearly vacation plans and instead choose a more economical getaway. Although many families this past year chose to stay at home, some families bravely headed out in the family car with their children crammed in the backseat. The first hour or so may pass by swiftly – but as any parent knows who has gone on a long road trip, each hour can feel like an eternity with tired, cranky and bored children in the backseat!

If your vacation plans have you taking the long scenic route towards your destination, you’ll be saving plenty of money in airfare, but you’ll need to think ahead in order to keep your kids happy and entertained. So how can you keep your children distracted during those multiple hour road trips? Simple: just use these tips and tricks, and your children will be happy for the entire trip!

1. Break out classic road trip games – they were invented for a reason! Have your kids try to see if they can spot a license plate from every state, and keep score – this will keep them interested for a prolonged period of time. Another great road trip game is “I Spy”, in which everyone takes turns guessing at a certain object or landmark using only the clues provided by the person who is “it”. However, objects that are in the car or on the horizon for a few minutes (like a large landmark) are the only acceptable objects; it’s not fair to guess for an object that passed by on the highway seconds ago!

2. Bring your child’s favorite electronics. Although electronics like video games can have a bit of a negative impact on your child’s health (for example, interrupting sleep schedules, causing a lack of exercise, etc.), they’re practically lifesavers on a road trip. Buy a portable DVD player and brings lots of movies that will keep your children distracted. You’ll be so thankful for the peace and quiet!

3. In addition to electronics, bring plenty of fun snacks. Many kids get cranky on long road trips due to hunger, but you can nip this problem in the bud by bringing along fun and healthy snacks to keep them over until lunch or dinner. Crackers and granola are great snacks that are healthy and delicious too!

4. Of course, no child, no matter how much he or she likes road trips, is able to stay in a car for a prolonged period of time. Once you recognize this, you’ll be able to better handle your child when he or she becomes cranky or restless. Plan on making lots of side trips along the way – in fact, why not make them part of the overall vacation itself? See if there are any fun landmarks en route to your final destination, and use the opportunity to stretch your legs. Your kids will be grateful for the rest, and you’ll enjoy avoiding yet another cranky mood.

5. Heap loads of praise on your children for making it through hourly blocks without making a fuss. They’ll be so proud of themselves that they’ll continue their behavior in order to earn more compliments!

But above all these things, what’s the most important thing to bring along on a road trip with children? Easy: the understanding that no matter how much you plan ahead, you’ll never be 100% prepared for everything. Children have a wild and wonderful way of turning an itinerary into a free-for-all; yet that’s just part of the adventure that is raising children.