Road Trip with Kids
Boredom, limited space and overflowing energy are a source of nuisance for a child when in a restaurant - how much more in the narrow cage of a car on a hour-long ride. You have barely left your home when the notorious "Are-we-there-already" starts, sometimes replaced by the equally infamous "How-long-is-it-still-going-to-take" and "I-have-to-pee" (the latter preferrably on highways with no possibility to stop).
So again, the key here is entertainment. It's more difficult because you have a very limited space in your car and often a very long time to go.
The "surprise bags" described above do a good job also here. In case of a long ride, you can prepare several smaller bags and scatter them in intervals of several hours, thus keeping the excitement going. Be careful with loose plastic boxes and toys, though, they can become missiles heading forward in case of an accident.
Why are kids asking the "How-long?" - question? Well, first of all, because they're bored and annoyed. But it's also hard for children to understand a distance of 500 miles or a period of 10 hours. So when you're planning your trip, just make a simple map for your children, displaying your home, the target and important points in between. Add some pencils or crayons and point out when you're passing the marking points. This way, your kids have an overview of where you are and adding drawings will keep them busy. Later on, you can put the maps in your holiday album for souvenir. Keep in mind to make a map for each child.
If your child doesn't mind sleeping in the car, you can consider travelling during the night. That can buy you some peace during the ride, at the cost that you're tired when you arrive at your destination. If you have a spaciuos car, like a van, you can use some pillows and blankets to turn it into a cozy place.
Entertainment electronics can make your trip a lot easier. A game boy can keep a child occupied for a very long time, and you can even get a small, portable tv / vcr combination for a reasonable price. You can bring your kids' favourite videos and they'll probably be fine for the entire trip. When it comes to music, you should consider that you'll have to listen to it also, so make sure you can stand the constant repetition of child songs. Otherwise, a walkman might do the job.
A major problem with playing in the car is the very limited space. Toys easily fall down and slide under seats, so you have to stop in order to pick it up again. A tray like the ones used in fast-food-restaurants may help there: it supplies a solid, even surface that can be used as a foundation for eating or as a playground. Childrens' imagination is still vivid, so a plain plastic tray can turn easily into a setting for the favourite action hero's next adventure. If you have a family, you should get rid of the idea of having a car to impress and rather trade it for something spacious and comfortable. It might be hard at first, but later on you'll be thankful for the extra space that helps getting through even a long trip without too much disturbance.
Brigette Meier is an occassional author for http://www.e-nterests.com - visit the site for more interesting articles.
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