Summer time often consists of long car trips for many families. With kids out of school, it’s the most popular time of year to travel. Even if your kids are excited about the trip, it can be difficult for them to endure the long car ride—and cranky, bored kids make the trip hard for the parents as well.
Here are six simple ways that you can keep kids occupied on long car trips:
1. Pack a lot of snacks. Try to pick out things that you don’t normally give your kids at home so that they stay interested. You should also try to pack things that you know they like. Make the snacks as healthy as possible.
2. Use incentives or milestone prizes. You can get inexpensive toys from the dollar store or small suckers to use as rewards on the trip. You can give them something from the surprise bag when you reach each stop. Try wrapping each item in tissue paper to add excitement.
3. Get a portable DVD player. Pack the player and old favorite movies, along with some new ones you think your kids might like. Don’t forget to pack the charger and some headphones, so you don’t have to listen to the movies for the whole trip.
4. Make a CD with silly songs to sing along with. This can be fun to put in when you all need a pick-me-up. You can even have your child help you make a mixed CD with silly songs before the trip.
5. Bring activities to rotate. Have a plastic bag for each activity: coloring, sticker books, books on tape, etc. Bring a bag out at regular intervals and then put the previous bag away to keep things interesting.
6. Get educational. Involve your child in the process of traveling by bringing along a road map so they can follow along and find out where they are. Use the opportunity of traveling to point out different states, read road signs, and find license plates from other states.
Above all, remember to encourage your child to walk a bit to stretch their legs whenever you are at a rest stop, or to do some jumping jacks to get the wiggles out. You can also make the trip more fun by finding enjoyable stops your kids would enjoy.