This week, I am embarking on a multi-state road-trip by myself with two kids.
If you have never been impressed with me, now is your opportunity.
I am already nine hours into it and am currently in Utah where i attended Evo Conference last week. Over the next few days, I will drive to Sandpoint (one of Idaho’s hidden jewels) and we will ultimately spend the duration of our vacation in my hometown, Calgary (check-out our fun-filled itinerary).
While I have traveled extensively with my kids (ages 4 and 7), I have never tackled a vacation of this magnitude. For our extended road-trips, Jamie and I have tag-teamed but being the lone member of the entertainment committee is daunting, especially because I’ll be consumed with the task of not veering off the road and killing us.
If you’ve ever played referee to your kids in the backseat, you know what I’m talking about.
Here are a few activities I’ve rounded up to keep the kids entertained:
Books on tape. We’ve never tried listening to audio CDs so my fingers are crossed this will be a new favorite. We rented several from the library including Flat Stanley, various Magic Tree House Collections and Classic Fairy Tales. For a fantastic age-by-age guide on the best audio books (starting age 2), check-out Travel Savvy Mom.
Summer journals. At the beginning of the summer, I gave each child a notebook we dedicated as their summer journal where they could write and draw their favorite activities. Our goal is to be on the lookout for fun roadside treasures to sketch in our travel journal, which is where we will also preserve many of our souvenirs. We also like to make funny signs and pictures to display when we pass cars.
Maps. My kids are not directionally-challenged like their mother and they adore maps. I always print out Google maps and we also follow our route in our Rand McNally book of maps. When I’m really organized, I do some research and share fun things the children who live in that area like to do. Many times, this is where we’ll stop for our regular breaks.
Coloring/craft projects. I have a travel easel for each child where they draw, make crafts and play games (I used a cookie sheet when they were younger because constantly picking up dropped items gets old, fast). This time around, I have a big ol’ laundry basket in between the kids’ car seats replete with coloring books, notebooks, crafts, tape, pipe cleaners, crayons and markers. Easy access means mama won’t be turning around every five minutes to help (in an ideal world).
Movies (and lots of them). We are not fortunate enough to have a DVD player in our car so will bring our portable one. Because the car is noisy, I always bring a head phone splitter so both of my kids can listen with their headphones.
Nintendo DS. We have a Wii at home and my kids are only allowed to play the DS on road-trips so it is a privilege they look forward to. At home, their recent addiction is the new Wii Play Motion (12 crazy-fun games and our favorite is bonking the garden vermin Linkon the noggin’ is a Whack-a-mole game on steroids). Since we don’t have the Wii Play Motion on the DS, the kiddos love Super Mario and also Mario vs. Donkey Kong.
Dollar Store. I am convinced the Dollar Store was made expressly for kids on road trips. The week prior to our vacation, I assigned my kids various chores around the house. With the money they earned, I set them loose at the Dollar Store to relish in the glory of cheap plastic toys that I do not care if they get broken.
Travel Games. We have a great collection of travel-sized games that ranges from Hungry Hungry Hippos to magnetic playing cards. After losing numerous game pieces to our car’s Black Hole, we now keep them in an enclosed container. You can also find a lot of great printable car games online and don’t forget about the old classics like “I Spy” or the license plate game.
Books. My kids aren’t big readers yet so this won’t hold their attention for long but I’m hoping to spend at least a half-hour each day listening to them read.
Healthy snacks. In the past, our road-trip offerings have been solely junk food. While we will have treats, my goal is to take plenty of fresh fruit, nuts, trail mix, Pirate’s Booty and granola bars. I’m also giving each child their own snack bag so they don’t fight over the food (I speak from experience.)
What are your must-have items for long road trips with your kids?
Photos: American Profile, Journey Etc.,