I hope you are having a great summer. Our summer is off to a fun start and it just keeps on going. We are taking a couple of longer car rides this summer. Each trip with the kids will be between 6 and 8 hours. With five kids in the car they could be even longer! So, I am making sure that I am prepared for the road trips.
Here are a few things that I am hoping will set us up for success in the car. I don't really want to hear "Are we there yet" or "I'm hungry" every 20 minutes so I am preparing myself in advance with a "bag of tricks"
I have printed out some classic car games that we can play. My kids love to keep an eye out for different license plates and these sheets help us actually keep track of which ones we've seen. Or you can use the map for the license plate game and help your kids work on their geography at the same time!! My kids don't get a lot of geography at their school so I wanted to find a way to incorporate some more geography into our trip as well. I found these great states and capitols worksheets for them to do. You can check out my pinterest board for geography to see some other great ideas to help the kids learn while having fun!
We always like to play, "I'm going on a trip and I'm taking..." The first person brings something that starts with an "A" and the second person starts their item with a "B" but they have to say I'm taking an apple and a burrito...and as the game goes on it gets harder because you have to list everything that was previously stated. But it's a great memory game and a time killer! We find the alphabet on the road signs...but set the rules ahead of time (do license plates count or not?) so everyone is on the same page!
I also printed off these little game worksheets for my bigger kids and I am positive they will love working on them!! We like to play the dot game and tic tac toe as well...if you have those boards already set up on paper it saves you a lot of time! You can find some printables for those games online too. I have a "vacation" pinterest page and there are a lot of other great travel games and ideas on there!
Yes, we do have two screens in our van so the kids can watch movies but my goal is that we don't have to watch movies the whole time...maybe one movie per trip. So I will try to keep them busy with the games I stated above and some other innovative ways...like giving them each a piece of tin foil and having them create anything they want with it. My kids love their travel Guess Who and I know if we had this travel Hangman they would love playing that as well...plus it would be a way for them to keep their spelling skills up! You can bring a cookie sheet and magnets for younger kids to play with. There are so many great games that you can find something for everyone!
Last time we went on a longer road trip my three year old kept saying "I need a snack". She didn't ask when we'd be there as much but she always wanted to eat. We figured it was her way of saying she was bored. So we did try to keep her entertained but also realized that some of the time she probably was actually hungry. In the past I have kept a big snack bag up by my seat and in it would be all the different bags or boxes of snack foods. I would then hand back a small cup with some sort of snack in it.
This time I got a little bit smarter. Since I knew we'd be eating lunch in the car everyone got a ziploc container with their lunch in it (don't forget the napkins).
Then I just portioned out some snacks for the other few hours we'd be in the car. Everyone got a baggie full of the pre-portioned snack and I put their initial on the bag so we wouldn't have any fighting (and so I would know who didn't clean up after themselves!!). This worked out so well! And I will be using this method in the future. Yes, it uses more baggies but it saved me so much time in the car and they spilled less when their snack was in a baggie instead of a small cup.
There are so many other great tips out there that we've used for our road trips, like always packing a roll of paper towels and extra plastic bags. We let the kids pack a few of their favorite things but then also bring along a few surprises as well. People have made binders for all of their road trip games but it worked for me to just put it in the manila folder inside my small bag. I've also seen people wrap presents or small trinkets to give to the kids each hour or set miles down the road. We opted to just do the printables this time and it worked out great. Also, bring colored pencils instead of markers or crayons (they're just cleaner in the car) but don't forget the pencil sharpener.
Enjoy your time and realize it might get loud or a little crazy but really, who likes being stuck in a seated position closely surrounded by other people for 6+ hours? Cut everyone a little slack and have fun making new memories! Where are you headed this year?!