Published July 1, 2018
Tips for Keeping the Peace on Long Drives
“Are we there yet?”
“I am soooooo hungry!”
Do these phrases sound familiar coming from your back seat? Summer is underway, and with it comes extra car time. Whether you’re heading across the country or across the city, put these tips to use for an enjoyable time for all involved, back seat and front.
Prep the car.
Getting ready for road trip season, it’s helpful to do a quick check to make sure you have plenty of the essentials stocked up: wet wipes, kleenex, a few plastic bags for trash, and a small towel for big spills can be life savers. If the trip will involve nap times, having a few small pillows and favorite blankets along will be a welcome addition to big and little travelers, alike.
Gather the activities.
Handheld games, phones, and tablets have certainly changed the dynamics of a good old-fashioned road trip. While it’s fine to occupy some of the travel time with electronics (be sure to remember all the associated chargers), kids tend to get cranky when they’re tethered to the screen for mile after mile.
Break up the trip with travel games that will engage the brain and the senses, like Road Trip Bingo or the License Plate Hunt. You can find plenty of great printable options for a variety of ages at The Joys of Boys.
Have each child pack an extra large ziplock bag (2.5 gallon size) with their favorite toys for playing with in the car. This will keep the size manageable and allow for easy viewing. Another way to make the miles melt away is to go to the library and check out or download a family friendly audiobook.
Plan for snacking.
Kids can get the munchies during a long car ride, and sometimes it’s tough to stick to a regular meal schedule when traveling. Buffer the hunger pains with a small cooler stocked with juice boxes or small bottles of water, fresh fruit like grapes or apples, and a few protein offerings such as string cheese or beef jerky. Other good snacks include pretzels, trail mix, fruit snacks, and a few sweets such as mini-sized candy bars. You can avoid constant food requests and keep track of progress by picking a mile marker or city destination for each snack break.
Make the most of your breaks.
You may end up stopping more than you’d hoped due to the frequent bathroom needs of small bladders, but take advantage of the opportunity to get everyone out of the car and moving. Jumping jacks, quick little running races down the sidewalk and back, toe touches, and wiggles will give everyone a chance to stretch and release pent up energy.
If you’re on a schedule, set your timer for 10 minutes, and when it goes off, race to see see who can get buckled back in the fastest. State rest stops are a great place for pulling over and getting a little fresh air and activity, if you can find a few conveniently on your route.
With a little planning and a little patience, you’ll make it to your destination with everyone rested and in good spirits. And if you get really desperate, remember…there are always car songs!