Long awaited…summer! The time to relax, at least for kids, and take those vacations you’ve longed to take all school year long. Sometimes you are able to fly or travel to your location quickly. But sometimes, you have to make the long 16 hour car ride up to Aunt Ethel’s to see the family or across the country to see that one of a kind historical monument. What do you do to fill the time?
Here are some ideas for turning those long travel hours into trips that fly by… or at least seem quicker and more entertaining. It can be helpful to leave very early in the morning when kids are still sleepy, if you are able to stay awake when you drive. That way the kids can sleep a few hours of the trip without even really knowing they are in the car. Caution against those who may get carsick though. Bring small snacks like pretzels or crackers if they need something in their tummies before the long drive. It is always good to have a bag or something handy in case the carsickness comes to the surface. You can also drive at night if you have more than one driver in the car and can take turns, but only if you can do this safely. It is not worth it to risk a safe trip if you cannot stay awake.
If you have children, you will want to bring along some activities and games to keep them occupied. One thing that is a lot of fun and reusable are pipe cleaners. Kids can make almost anything out of those things and then can straighten them back out and do it all over again. They are not messy either. Small children may not be able to use them as they can be rather sharp on the ends of the wires. Watch them make cool sunglasses, colorful flowers, or a chain that covers the entire ceiling of your van from window to window. The ideas are endless.
Other things to do, especially if older kids are involved are license plate games. See you can find the most states on the license plates. Or you can make license plate bingo out of the states and see who can win first. The alphabet game is an old standby, but be sure you have things around you on which to find letters. A road with few street signs, business signs or license plates can make for a long game.
One thing that is always fun is to bring along some surprises that the kids don’t know about and then pull them out during the course of the trip. For example, bring out a puzzle book, a Rubik’s Cube or something for the kids to have to think about a little while the miles pass. Of course a new game for their video player or a new movie for that in the car video player is nice, but other things like new books and games are fun and offer something new over another electronic babysitter. Most of all, just have fun on the trip, relax and know that you will get there…eventually.