For those of us who have larger families than normal, traveling by plane can add up quickly – minimizing the number of trips a family can take each year. We usually opt to travel by car, even if it takes a few days to reach our destination. The price is right especially when we camp along the way, and it allows us to take more vacations each year with our kids. Some parents worry about how to entertain the kids during those long 10 hour days in the car. Success relies on having a plan.
First you will need to organize your car so you can bring all the necessities, and then add your educational items. Car clutter is the enemy and will quickly turn your road trip into an energy sapping chore for which you will find yourself dreaming about being back at home. Invest in a roof top carrier such as a Thule to store travel items that you will not need immediate access too. If your budget allows, also purchase a second cargo hitch storage compartment to store even more items that would otherwise be taking up valuable space inside your vehicle.
You will find that there is now much more space inside your vehicle. Use it wisely by taking advantage of some great car organizers on the market. There are items that organize your DVD’s, Kids car organizers, back seat organizers that are insulated and hold snacks, travel trays with pockets that hold art supplies, toys, and more snacks, floor stand trash litter bags, 12V car vacuum cleaners and more. We always take advantage of organizing and consolidating our items in the car so everyone has access to what they need while we are on the road for days at a time.
Begin packing your entertainment and educational items for the kids. Our kids love to read, but reading while traveling can cause motion sickness, so we discovered Audio Books on CD. The selection is endless from fun classics, to educational audio books. We found that when we travel to a specific destination such as following the Oregon Trail, it’s good to bring a couple of movies and audio books on the subject. The kids are actually learning, while having fun. CD’s and DVD’s don’t take up much room when you store them in a CD visor organizer and provide hours, and even days of entertainment.
The kids always want to do arts and crafts, so be sure to bring some coloring kits and a lap tray travel desk that they can use while they are creating their back seat master pieces. I don’t usually recommend a deck of cards, but we picked up some interesting wildlife picture cards while driving through Wyoming that the kids still love to play with. They quiz each other on the names of each animal, and have even created their own, go fish type of card game for predators and prey cards. It’s amazing what kids can come up with on their own!
For the older kids, have each one bring a journal, and or sketch book to document their experience in. We actually brought along a science sample collection kit so my son could collect dirt samples from each state we drove through. The colors varied from deep black soil, to bright red dirt in Utah and he now has an intrinsic interest in geology from that one road trip.
For the little kids, it’s always good to bring a favorite or familiar toy along especially for those long trips. If there is some fear of losing the toy along your journey, carry a backup identical toy to completely eliminate a potentially traumatizing experience for your youngster.
Once you have packed your entertainment and educational items, put together your car menu and food storage system. Since our kids have severe food allergies and can’t take the chance of eating out, we carry all our food with us. I have organized a system for food storage and use some great food storage organizer bags to achieve success in this area. We always bring our homemade car snack food items like organic fresh fruit and veggies, to homemade granola, sandwiches, nitrate free jerky, homemade trail mix, and snacks. I also bring main course meals along that I can cook in our hotel room or at the camp site. Like everything in life, practice makes perfect and each time we travel, I find new ways to prepare meals, and add new entrees to our travel meal menu.
Now you are ready to get out and see the world, or at least North America on your Road Trip with the Kids. With maps, audio books, journals, coloring kits, toys and more, you will be outfitted for a successful car schooling trip with your family. Not only will you enjoy being somewhere other than home, but you will be able to teach your kids in a fun and exciting way about other States, wildlife, agriculture, and more.
Linda Walsh is a mother of 3 young children – one with special needs and a forth child on the way. She is also a family travel expert who has developed a unique system for traveling with babies and young kids, budgeting money, cooking from scratch on the road, managing life with special needs, and living an organized lifestyle to get the most miles out of raising her family. If you would like to find more ways to simplify and organize your travels through life with your children, visit her website at [http://www.familytravelgear.com] or her blog at [http://www.blog.familytravelgear.com].