For many families, long car rides are a necessary part of a family vacation or road trip. But as any parent knows, long car rides with kids can be a challenge. From boredom to car sickness to meltdowns, there are many factors that can make a long car ride with kids stressful. In this article, we’ll offer tips and tricks to help parents survive long car rides with kids and arrive at their destination with their sanity intact.
- Plan Ahead
The key to a successful long car ride with kids is planning ahead. This includes everything from packing snacks and drinks to choosing the right route to packing plenty of entertainment options. Before you hit the road, make a checklist of everything you’ll need for the journey, including essentials like diapers and wipes, sunscreen, and first aid supplies.
- Pack Plenty of Snacks and Drinks
One of the best ways to keep kids entertained and happy on a long car ride is to pack plenty of snacks and drinks. This can include healthy options like fruits and veggies, as well as fun treats like crackers and cookies. Be sure to pack plenty of water and juice to keep kids hydrated, especially on hot days.
- Bring Entertainment Options
Boredom is one of the biggest challenges of a long car ride with kids. To combat this, be sure to pack plenty of entertainment options, such as books, coloring books, puzzles, and handheld games. Consider investing in a portable DVD player or tablet to allow kids to watch movies or TV shows. You can also play games like “I Spy” or “20 Questions” to keep kids engaged and entertained.
- Make Frequent Stops
Sitting in a car for hours on end can be tough on kids (and adults). To avoid restlessness and boredom, be sure to make frequent stops along the way. This can include rest stops, gas stations, and parks or playgrounds where kids can stretch their legs and burn off some energy.
- Set Expectations
Before you hit the road, set expectations with your kids about what the car ride will be like. Explain how long the trip will take, how many stops you’ll make, and what behavior is expected in the car (e.g. no yelling or fighting). Be sure to praise good behavior and enforce consequences for misbehavior.
- Consider Timing
The timing of your car ride can make a big difference in how kids behave and feel. Consider scheduling your car ride during a time when your kids are typically well-rested and fed. This might mean leaving early in the morning or late at night, depending on your kids’ schedules.
- Pack Comfort Items
Kids are more likely to feel comfortable and relaxed in the car if they have their favorite comfort items with them. This might include a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, a special pillow, or a favorite toy. Encourage your kids to bring these items along on the car ride to help them feel more at ease.
- Play Music or Audiobooks
Playing music or audiobooks can be a great way to pass the time on a long car ride. Consider creating a playlist of your kids’ favorite songs or audiobooks, or choose a family-friendly audiobook that everyone can enjoy together. This can help to create a shared experience and keep kids engaged and entertained.
- Be Prepared for Car Sickness
Car sickness is a common problem for many kids (and adults) on long car rides. To prevent car sickness, be sure to pack plenty of plastic bags, towels, and wipes. Encourage your kids to look out the window and take breaks if they start to feel nauseous.
- Stay Positive
Above all, try to stay positive.
Long car rides with kids can be stressful and tiring, but it’s important to remember that they can also be a great opportunity for family bonding and making memories. By planning ahead, packing plenty of snacks and entertainment, making frequent stops, and staying positive, parents can help their kids have a fun and enjoyable car ride. Remember to be patient with your kids, set expectations, and celebrate small victories along the way. With the right preparation and mindset, long car rides with kids can be a rewarding experience for the whole family.