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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Road Trip Sanity Savers

My friend Marcia just posted a plea on Facebook for Road Trip games and tips so here goes.

First, I love making up Road Trip Fun Packs for every trip we go on.  I put together a bag or box for each kiddo (and sometimes the adults too.)  My kids know they are getting them so now they really look forward to them.  As a matter of fact Olivia wanted to know if she was getting one for the trip to Washington DC.  I told her those are for Road Trips, we were flying to DC!  She was a little bummed. 

Usually I put the Road Trip Fun Pack in a cheap paper bag but sometimes I'll put it in something more fun.  I have given them clip boards that had their names on the front.  When we went to South Dakota I put the stuff in cute little back packs which they used all week for our outings.  One thing you may want to invest in if you are new to road trips is a lap desk for each of your kids.  I especially love these ones I got my kids that have a light built in so they can color or read after dark:  http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=17249800

Now what to pack!

First thing in the box is some snacks, usually Twizzlers and something salty.  Nothing big but something they wouldn't normally get at home.

Second, I always include a new book.  Hey, I like to encourage reading as much as I can.

Third, I make up a packet of games.  This is easy and FREE.  I print out a sheet of tic tac toe boards, dots and lines, car bingo, etc. from a great website called Mom's Minivan.   I also include a list of all the states so we can mark them off as we spot license plates from that state.

Next, make your own word search using words that apply to your vacation.  If you are going to South Dakota you can put words in it like MTRUSHMORE, BADLANDS, WALLDRUG, CORNPALACE, Etc. Here a great website for building your game:  http://www.edhelper.com/wordfind_make.htm

You can also go get printable coloring sheets for the places you plan to visit.  If you are going to Seaworld, check out their website, they will have printable coloring sheets.  Major landmarks will also have coloring pages available on line, just search "coloring page mt. rushmore".....or whatever.

One time I printed off words to common road trip songs and put those in the packets.  That provided hours of entertainment and tons of laughter for the whole family.  Especially when I kept singing the wrong words and Jeff said "Girls, why did your mom bother to give us all the words to the songs if SHE was still going to sing the wrong words????"  I was driving!  Hello!  I can't read, sing and drive!  

Another game that we play in the car is the alphabet game.  Each member of the car has to find each letter of the alphabet in order on license plates and bill boards and you can't repeat each other.  So you shout out the letter and the word you got it from.  A, Applebee's, B, Bob's, etc.  You can't move on to the next letter until you get the one before.  You can wait a long time for Q!  Hint:  Look for Antique stores! 

If your kids are a bit older, you could put some logic puzzles or sudoku puzzles in their packet.  Again, all available for free on the internet.  Also, you can check the Dollar Tree and maybe pick up a new coloring or activity book that is age appropriate.  I have also been known to include a new DVD and/or DS game if I catch some on clearance or a $5 special.  If I know a road trip is coming I keep my eyes open for good deals on these types of items.  The day after Thanksgiving they run DVDs for $2, $3 or $5 at Walmart and Target.  I usually pick up quite a few and tuck them away for these types of events.

I have also been known to reward the kids for good behavior.  Every 30 minutes if there has been no bickering they get $1.  Over a 16 hour road trip to Florida they can each earn $30 of souvenir money!  However, that has really gone by the wayside as they have gotten older and are really good travelers.   Now I make them earn their money before we leave (tomorrow I'll blog about some good ways to handle souvenir money.)

Another tip, before you leave town go stock up on DVDs from the public library.  They are free and you now get to keep them for 2 weeks in Johnson County instead of 1! 

I hope these ideas help.  I always say the journey is half the fun.  Actually I think when it comes to family road trips, the journey is about 75% of the fun.  These are memories you just can't put a price tag on!

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