Are We There Yet?: Planning a Family Road Trip

March Break is fast approaching and for anyone planning a road trip – here are some great tips for keeping the kids busy and entertained during the long drives.

1) Toy Box on Wheels – Let each kid bring their own knapsack to fill with whatever toys they want to bring on the trip. Look for clearance sets of crayons, markers, paper, coloring books, for the younger children and activity books or library books for school age kids, etc. They'll know what else to add, but make sure the knapsack is light enough for them to carry so you're not their "pack horse"; you'll already have enough lugging and loading to do.

2) My child the photojournalist – Consider buying an inexpensive digital camera or 2….you can find some sub-$50 'real' cameras on, or get lucky on Or, you could go "oldschool" and pick up a few disposable cameras for the trip. Caution: a good photographer takes a lot of shots to get that perfect one and your kids will too so, be sure to select a time and place for them to take their photos. They can take pictures of any landmarks along the way, during any stops or have fun making movies of each other in the car.

3) Make a "vacation" book. Each child starts with their own vacation book including: title page, a map of the trip, their name, a daily itinerary with times blocked off for each activity.  For longer driving stretches, try to highlight the route and add in the distance/time. If visiting an attraction or landmark, include any information to help the kids get interested in the places you will be visiting. You can have a little fun with the interesting facts while on route. Also include your stopping point for the day; ski slope or hotel name and location so they can look it up on their map or even the GPS if your vehicle is so, equipped. Make sure there are lots of blank pages for every day so kids can write or draw about their adventures of the day. The idea behind the "vacation book" is to keep the kids involved in the trip. Instead of asking "are we there, yet?", they can use their maps to figure it out on their own and learn some map-reading and math skills along the way.

4) Treat Time – Well timed snacks and treats will not only keep their blood sugar up between meals on a long drive it's also a great distraction. Be sure to alternate healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts with some of their favorite treats so they are not jumping in their seats.

5) Treasure box – Make a box full of small toys, art materials, edible treats, comic books, hair bows, Lego figures, basically whatever strikes a chord with your kids. After each half hour, or whatever time limit works best for your trip, the kids are given a treasure from the treasure box. The contents of the box are kept secret so maintaining the suspense of the next treat also helps to pass the time. Well chosen treasures will help keep the kids busy for the intervening time period and they may even discuss among themselves what the next treasure might be.

6) Games – when all else fails, games are always a winner. Printable bingo games, scavenger hunts at road stops, fun with aluminum foil (shape the foil into animals, jewelry, hats and more), license plate game, I spy, rock paper scissors, trivia, songs, etc…the possibilities (and fun) are endless.

Now you're ready to roll down the highway for a fun filled family trip. Enjoy!

P.S. Here's a good site to help with your planning.


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