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10 tips to make a road trip with the Kids smoother

Summer is a time that families pack the kids in the car and head out for a road trip to visit family away. If the trip takes longer than an hour or two to get to the final destination, many parents know it could be a challenge to keep the kids busy. “Are we there yet?” is a common question parents can expect to hear at least once during the trip. 
To ease the anxiousness and impatience from our kids, my husband I usually aim to leave at night when they are ready to go to bed. That way they sleep for most of the trip because it is during their normal sleep hours anyway. If the trip takes more than a few hours, when they wake, we make at least one pit stop so they can stretch their legs and get some fresh air and then pepper the remaining hours with car games. Here are 9 other ways we pass time while on a road trip from a past post:

  1. License Plates – A time-honored road trip classic, kids can compete to see who can spot license plates from the most different states. An alternative version involves scouting for unusual numbers or for a particular letter. This game has been known to last through several states’ worth of driving.
  2.     Road Trip Bingo – You can find cards for this game online with symbols of objects, vehicles, and road signs printed on them for the kids to scout out during family road trips. Play it just like traditional Bingo, marking off each item that’s spotted on the journey, until someone fills a line or the whole card.
  3.     I Spy – A more traditional, low-tech version of Road Trip Bingo, this one requires nothing more than sharp eyes. Kids can call out, “I spy a …” and others compete to identify the “target” first. It’s also a good way for the kids to appreciate the scenery as it goes by their windows.
  4.     iPod – Of course a good supply of personal tunes can go a long way in keeping the older kids pre-occupied. An mp3 player or cell phone can be just the ticket to make the long stretches on the road go by more quickly.
  5.     Unusual Attractions – Whenever and wherever possible, it helps to incorporate some interesting tourist attractions as part of your scheduled route, which will help break up the drive a bit. When planning your trip, check for any roadside oddities along the way that make for fun photo ops, like giant cow sculptures or donut-shaped donut shops.
  6.     Video Games – Parents know all too well how much time a kid can kill on those game consoles. Bring along a hand-held device or two to keep them busy. There’s an excellent chance that you won’t hear a peep out of them while driving clear across the country.
  7.     DVDs – If the family vehicle is equipped with a DVD player, you’re way ahead in the battle against boredom. Stock up with a selection of family favorites for viewing on the road and you can kill hours at a time.
  8.     Keep a Travel Journal – Encourage the kids to bring along a journal and document their adventures while on vacation. It will do much more than keep them busy, it will preserve some valuable memories for posterity too.
  9.     Read – Bring a good book assortment – either the paper or e-book variety – and let your kids get lost in some good literature. Suggest that everyone unplug for a stretch of your trip and just read quietly. Who knows, it could become a habit that extends into everyday life.

What else? Do you have any road trip advice to share? 

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