I Spy With My Little Eye ….. a car packed tighter than a backpack crammed with a year’s worth of papers on the last day of school, kids b b b bouncing in their seats, parents with Botox-worthy lines of worry creeping across their foreheads….
That’s right, school is out and it’s time for….. Summer Road Trip season!
We jest, of course, but in case you live in fear of the above scenario, we’ve got your stress free family road trip guide below.
Wheels up, let’s go!
- Entertainment for the whole car: While “I Spy” is a tried-and-true time killer, sometimes you need to pack-in reinforcements. Mad Libs are great to get kids and parents involved in the same game (we especially like themed ones such as Star Wars). Travel Bingo is another fun option (try this one at Sunshine Sam). All the local toy stores also have Q&A games that kids love as well as well as magnetic board games. And the On-the-Go Fun For Kids! book has a car’s worth of great ideas for parents to keep kids busy on road trips.
- For the back seat only: Quiet, child-only options are awesome, too (remember you might be spending hours in close confines). My favorite car trip activity tip from my guidebook days is to fill a small plastic storage bin (you can pick them up for $1.99 at Amazing Savings right now) with crayons and paper, then let kids use the closed box as a portable desk. (Of course, books and electronics are good options as well.)
- Treat time: For a new twist on kid’s car treats, use a plastic tackle box (the flat kind with multiple compartments) and fill each section with small snacks such as grapes, dried fruit, nuts, and goldfish for a road-trip bento box. Pack a cooler with drinks and easy to eat snacks like string cheese, fruit, bagels, and granola bars, that everyone can help himself to as well.
- Music to drive by: Remember the great days of the mixed tape? No outing or life event was complete without one. The same holds true for modern-day iPod playlists and home-spun CDs; they’ll create the soundtrack of your trip. Spend an evening creating your perfect playlist and you’ll avoid some of the “can you turn that down” from both the front and back seats (hint: think Beatles, not Barney). Also give pro compilations, like Jazzy Ash’s Bon Voyage NOLA tracks, a spin.
- Car Talk: And of course, don’t forget the the practical: Before you think of hitting the road anywhere beyond the town’s borders, give your car the gift of a checkup. AAA – who says they help nearly 8 million drivers between Memorial and Labor Days — recommends checking all five tires (spares need love, too), cleaning and checking the car’s battery, and checking and replacing wiper blades and fluids.
- Map it out: Yes, GPS is a modern marvel, but maps are a great way to get the kids involved in the details of the drive (we often stop at the first Tourism Info Center on our drive and pick these up to accompany the GPS). Guide books, web print outs, anything that gets them in the mood for your destination are nice to stock up on as well.
- A few more tricks of the trade: Finally, pack small garbage bags, wet wipes, and car chargers for phones and games and you’ll be ready to hit the road in stress-free style.