We just returned from a 10-day family road trip and it was great. We drove from Washington to California, along the coast, into the Redwoods, and as far as Monterey Bay- and then back home through Yosemite. We camped, stayed in vacation houses, and spent a couple of nights in hotels. We logged over 2500 miles on our van, and the kids were amazing. I thought I'd post some of my road trip ideas here so that I can remember and in case it's helpful for anyone else. :)
First tip: Make your kids pack their own stuff. :) This is our system for any trip, and it works- even for the little kids. Our olders can either help with the younger kids or the younger kids can pack what they see in the pictures and you can check their work. Either way, it saves a TON of time.
(Right after I copied these, my kids pointed out that I'd forgotten to put pajamas on here! Whoops! I told them they could add it to the "Other items" list on the top left-hand corner. :))
One of my favorite things is equipping our kids for all those hours in the van, and since we don't rely on technology because I'm old-fashioned that way, here is what we do instead:
Gift bag of goodies: Each of the kids gets a gift bag of goodies. I choose a different color bag for each child and write their name on it. AND: I keep this a secret until the morning of, so when they get to the van they it on their seats and spend the first several minutes rifling through them. They love this.
|The kids climbing into our van right before we hit the road. Isaias has spotted his bag on his seat.|
*This is the first time I've done the coupon thing, and it worked great. Each of the kids had coupons in their bags- just slips of paper that said, "Good for one soda" or "Good for one juice box", and when they wanted a drink they got to hand in their coupon and get a drink.
Road Trip Journal: I made a journal for each of the kids to take along. I bought some inexpensive folders with the brads in them and three-hole punched the pages and tucked them in the folders.
In their journals:
Map of the United States. I printed the B&W copy, because we colored them in as we saw the license plates from each state. This was a fun activity that lasted throughout the whole trip, and kept us all looking out the window!
Journal pages (Days 1-10): I've made the first page larger for you to see and the other pages small, but if you click on them you'll be able to see them larger.
these battleship pages and some blank graph paper (for their own lists or mazes or whatever games they wanted to play).
I printed off journals for Mark and myself, too, and we all spent time filling them in each day, either on the road or when we settled for the night.
Snacks: I also packed lots of general snacks up front between Mark and I (bags of chips, carrot sticks, crackers, string cheese, nuts, dried fruit, etc) and occasionally I'd pass those around.
Games: We play lots of games while we're on the road. Here are some of our favorites:
License plate game (see above map)
License plate game #2: Call out the letters of a license plate and everyone races to try to think of a word with the letters in that same order. (Example: HDG might be hedge or handbag).
Color game: Call out a color and everyone calls out what they see outside the window that is that color.
I Spy (in the van)
We also brought some trivia books and some Brain Quest flip books to quiz the kids.
Music: We made a road trip playlist and listened to it a whole lot. :) Mark and I sang loudly and tried to get the kids on board with all of our favorite music. :)
Maps: We had maps for each state and showed the kids each day where we were starting from, and where our destination was that day. They loved this, especially our six-year old. She kept asking us to pull the map out so that she could see our progress along the way!
Quiet: There were a few times we called out, "Ten (or twenty!) minutes of quiet!" And everyone had to be quiet. We only did this two or three times but it helped for our sanity. :)
I posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook throughout our trip but I'll try to post a few here, too, within the next couple of days.