My family and I took a road trip to visit my brother and his family for the holidays. From our home in Florida to their home in Cleveland, Ohio, the entire trip would take us about 15 hours each way. Two years ago, I would have never even considered such a long road trip with three small children. But now that my youngest is five-years-old, I figured the timing was right for this sort of adventure.
Although our car has an entertainment system, I did not want to sit the kids in front of the screen for the 30-hour round-trip. For starters, they would quickly get tired of watching movies, and mindless TV watching is not something I like my children to do. I wanted the kids to engage themselves in constructive and fun ways during our road-trip.
When it was time to start packing for the trip, I asked the kids to pack one book bag each with fun things to do in the car and while away. They all scattered to fill their bags, and when everyone was finished, they showed me what they had chosen. Just as I suspected, their bags were full of toys, electronic games, and stuffed animals. I would have to supplement their bags with some stimulating things for them to do.
I thought about adding the math workbooks I purchased over the summer, but decided against it. It was winter vacation and even I wanted to take a break from work. Instead, I decided to get creative. I added the books that Santa put in their stockings and then we took a trip to an educational toy store to find some additional things to add to our bags.
We bought the U.S.A. License Plate game by Mellisa & Doug, National Geographic’s Kids Ultimate Weird But True book, and some fun card games. The license plate game was perfect for all three of the kids. My fourth grader would have a chance to review his geography and my kindergartner and first grader would have a chance to learn the names of the 50 states. The Weird but True book had a number of really wacky and unusual things that would keep the kids oohing and ahhing repeatidly whenever they opened the book. From weird animal species to unusual artwork, it was a great book to keep the children entertained and give them a chance to do some light reading. Each picture had a short description about the item or animal featured, and there were opportunities to learn science in a fun way. (Did you know that a bat can eat 3,000 insects in one day?)
All in all, the kids did great on their trip. Every time they started getting restless or bored, I pulled out one of our new games or the books. We also broke up the trip into seven-hour legs and visted some tourist areas along the way. We went gem-mining in Asheville, NC, ate at Charlotte’s best burger joint, played in the snow, and had a great time on our vacation. Looks like we’ll be taking more road-trips in the future!
What are some of your tips for keeping kids entertained on long road trips?