Plan ahead for quick stops
Nothing gets kids more bored than a non-stop car trip. Who wants to think about four to six hours or more locked up in a car? Use your head and plan some quick stops enroute to and from your destination. It could be stopping off at a rest area and taking a short hike along a well-shoveled path, or having a bite at a diner or restaurant right off the freeway or along the road of travel.
Let the kids know ahead of time that you’ll be making several short stops. That way, they’ll have something to look forward to, get a chance to stretch their legs – and go to the restroom, always a kid consideration – and everyone will be a lot happier this time around.
Don’t forget the snacks
Next to having to go to the bathroom or get something to drink, one thing parents can count on from their kids during a long winter car trip is that they’re hungry. This is easy to remedy for the smart-thinking parent, however: pack lots of nutritious snacks.
What to include? Anything that’s portable, won’t perish, not loaded with sugar or empty calories is a good start. If you have a small cooler (or in-car refrigerator, an option in the Ford Flex, among other vehicles), you can bring along additional items that require a constant cool temperature. Fresh fruit (the kind the kids like, of course) is always a good idea. Nuts are nutritious, provide energy, and are excellent when mixed with raisins or other items in a home-made trail mix.
Watch out for chocolate, endless bags of chips or pretzels – for obvious reasons.
And steer clear of sugar-loaded soft drinks. Water is a much better bet to keep kids and everyone else hydrated for the long trip.
Just remember to time it right so you’re close to your “scheduled” quick stop – so everyone can hit the rest rooms.
Nighty-night – bring along pillows and bedtime story books
While it’s especially important for the little ones, even adolescents and older teens can benefit from a quick nap during the long car journey this winter. Be sure to bring pillows and blankets or throws to make them feel comfy. They’ll be less cranky after a few winks – and less likely to get on your nerves.
Another helpful tip is to bring along your child’s favorite story books. As long as you have another person who can read the story aloud to your child – it can’t be the driver, obviously – this is an easy solution to keeping a child happy during the winter car trip. For many children, their favorite story never gets old. They’ll fall asleep happy, since it’s familiar to them.
Toys amuse toddlers
As for the younger children, you’ll make the trip a lot less stressful on everyone if you remember to bring along a basket of toys. Toddlers can be amused for quite some time with a good selection of their favorite toys.
Stick the basket or bag between the seats and allow them to play until they get bored. Or, keep the toys upfront and dole them out at intervals so there’s always something new to amuse the little ones.
Other ideas to help kids pass the hours
Consider bringing coloring books, slinky toys, activity books, lined notebooks, blank sketch pads and other portable games for the kids’ amusement.
Another old favorite is games the entire family gets involved with. You know: counting certain color cars, like red VWs, how many barns or horses along a stretch of road, calling out unique personalized license plates, number of vehicles with snowmobiles in tow or cars with skis mounted on the roof…