A long car ride can be a rough way to start a family vacation. I’m from Texas, where you can drive a day-and-a-half without leaving the state! Car travel’s a way of life here, and we’ve come up with lots of strategies for making it an enjoyable part of the trip.
The trick is always keeping the kids happy.
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Before kids one parent got a break while the other one drove. Now, driving is the easy job.
When my kids were young we put our 4-year-old in the front with his dad while I sat in back with the baby. The older child could entertain himself with his toys, while talking to his dad. The baby needed more attention, because he hated being confined to a car seat. After about an hour I was more than ready to switch places with the driver! But at least both kids were happy. And bonus, they couldn’t fight with each other.
Take a Break
When you’re trying to make the most of a three day weekend, stopping frequently may seem counterproductive, but it’s important to give active kids a little freedom to expend some of their pent up energy. Consider taking at least one long break mid way. Think of it as an opportunity to finally see that sideshow reptile zoo you’ve always wondered about.
Drive While They Sleep
When I was a kid, my parents always made us get up at 4 am and pile into the car with our blankets. We slept for the first four hours, and they got to drive in peace. This idea works just as well if you want to drive all night, or just during nap time.
Play a Driving Game
Being stuck in a car together can be a great bonding experience, especially if you manage to have some fun. I learned a number of car ride games as a kid, which I put to good use with my own little cherubs.
One of the games involved counting cars of one particular color. Alternately you can make it a competition by having each person choose a different color car to count.
We also enjoyed the ABC game. You had to visually identify an object that started with “A,” then the next person identified one that started with “B.” You continued in round robin fashion until you got to “Z.” Twenty questions also plays well in confined spaces.
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