Planning a Family Roadtrip - Eat, Play, Plan

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Places To Go, Behavior: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Behavior: Big Kids, Expert Advice: Family Time, Family Time

Family Roadtrip keep kids occupied

Plan to bring books or games to make long car trips easier. Credit: Getty Images

Hitting the open road on your next family vacation? We've got some tips to help make the trip as pain-free as possible.

Games and activities: The driver is busy driving, and the other adult passengers are either sleeping, fiddling with the radio or helping to keep the driver awake. Your kids won't be doing any of these things. So, unless you enjoy hearing "Are we there yet?" every 14 seconds, here are few ways to keep the back seat brigade busy.

  • Babies/toddlers: Visit your local dollar store and pick up a few cheap items that you think will hold their attention, even if just for a little while. Keep everything hidden until you get in the car -- that way it's all new stuff.
  • Grade schoolers: For long excursions, a new Nintendo DS game is always a hit. Or download the Family Car Games iPhone app, with 100 games for the entire family. Mad Libs are a pleasant nonelectronic diversion, and, to get the whole car involved, playing I Spy or 20 Questions can help pass the time and require nothing but your eyes and ears.
  • Tweens/teens: Portable DVD player, anyone? Books on tape are a good choice that everyone can share. Just be careful to pick something appropriate for all ages.

Snacks
: Get them something they like. Now is not the time to institute in a change in eating habits. That doesn't mean the family car should turn into Willy Wonka on Wheels. But the idea is that if the kids are happy, you'll be happy. And while you may be tempted to stop for some roadside fast food, don't bring it into the car unless you like greasy upholstery. Think little bags of grapes, or single-serving packs of crackers. For long trips, a full picnic lunch works, just go easy on the mayo, especially in the summer.

Plan ahead. Picture the scene: It's midnight. You want to hit the road at 8 a.m. You haven't packed. And (cue scary music) -- you have NO SNACKS FOR THE KIDS. Late-night packing is a ritual in many households, but in order to load up the car, you have to have the right stuff. Make a list, check it twice, and don't wait until all the stores are closed to figure out what you need. This handy checklist will help you get organized.

Related: Airplane Jitters When Traveling With Kids? Just Relax

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.