Summer is the time for family vacations, and whether by choice or necessity, sometimes those vacations involve a road trip.
If piling the children in the car and driving for hour upon hour seems daunting, don’t despair. As a veteran of many family car trips, including one of 4000 miles with 9 children, I would like to share some of my tips for making it a pleasant and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Don’t invite the DVD player. Yes, you read that correctly. In my experience, the whining reaches its worst levels when the movie ends and before another begins. If there is no movie to begin with, everyone settles in with far less unhappiness and there is more interaction among the passengers.
Do plan to stop and let everyone run around a bit. We try to always pack our lunches so we can eat them outside. It doesn’t hurt to throw in a ball or Frisbee to toss around as well.
Don’t give up too soon. The first hours or day can be the most trying while everyone settles into a new routine. Once that is over with, life continues on much more pleasantly.
Do bring along recorded books. A trip to the library to stock up on stories to listen to is a necessity for me before a long car trip. We have heard some wonderful stories during our car trips. Not only does it pass the time, but it leads to some wonderful conversations during our meal breaks.
Don’t forget to see some sights along the way. By driving, you can stop and see places that you would have flown over in a plane. It’s a chance to learn more about our country and is a welcome break from sitting in the car.
Do provide some distractions. I keep a separate set of toys and activities that are good for use in the car and only appear for long car rides. I also stock up on inexpensive little treats and activities to have on hand as well. Both of these I dole out little bits at a time so the novelty lasts the entire trip.
Do relax and have fun and don’t be so concerned with the destination that you forget to enjoy the miles in between. Take the opportunity to talk together, sing songs, play games, and enjoy the time as a family.
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