Wednesday, August 3, 2005
For many people the idea of taking a road trip with their children brings to mind hearing an endless string of "...are we there yets?," and having to break up sibling arguments in the back seat.
But there are ways to make family road trips an enjoyable situation.
Julie Kaplicky, who has two young children, said buying a portable DVD player for her car has been a lifesaver.
"It saves me every time," Kaplicky said.
Kaplicky said another tip she can offer is to travel at night whenever possible. She said she has planned many trips to her parents' house, which is more than two hours away, that have involved feeding her children dinner, getting them into their pajamas, then putting them in the car.
"Sometimes it's easier when everyone is sleeping," she said.
Kaplicky said she has also learned that one of the most important things to keep in mind is to not have an agenda when you leave the house.
"One time they may sleep for two hours, and another time they may be fine for 20 minutes before they want to get out of the car," Kaplicky said.
She added that she doesn't hesitate to stop to let the kids get out of their car seats and stretch the legs.
"We'll get there when we get there," Kaplicky said. "You just can't be in a hurry, and if you are, then drive at night."
Charla Graff of Sunnyside, the mother of two, said she has also found having a television set in the car to be a good way to make a long trip more fun for the whole family.
Graff said before a trip she'll let her son pick out movies he wants to watch on the way.
Another way Graff helps keep her children entertained in the back seat is with the use of video games. She said her son not only has a hand-held video game player, but when he was younger he had several educational video games he would play in the car.
"All of these things really make it easier to travel," Graff said.
Dottie Cervantes with Travel Connection said when her son was younger, whenever her family would travel she would give him a folding map of the United States. She said he could use the map to outline their route and it gave him a chance to keep track of where the family was during any given point in their vacation.
Cervantes said using the map not only let her son know where the family was at, but it also taught him a bit about geography and distance.
"It made life a lot easier," Cervantes. She added that her son, now in his 30s, still has the map.
Brenda Meyer of Outlook, a mother of two, said she has always enjoyed traveling with her children at night. But she said as they got older, she learned that an important part of taking a successful road trip was ensuring her children had plenty to do in the back seat.
Before setting out for the open road, Meyer said she would take her children to the grocery store and let them choose whatever snacks they wanted for the trip. She said then she would give each of her children a chance to put together a bag filled with things they wanted to bring with them for the trip. Meyer said she always made sure her kids took things that would interest them.
"As long as they have things to occupy themselves," Meyer said.
Other tips parents can use to make a road trip run smoothly is to have a stash of magnetic travel games and word puzzles ready to hand over in case boredom strikes. It can also be good to put some classic travel games to use in the back seat, such as I Spy and the license plate game. There are several versions of the license plate game, one challenges kids to find plates from the most states, while the other challenges them to make words with letters found on different plates of passing cars.