We still have a long vacation coming up in August. As a friend said recently, “We’ve taken ‘trips’ before but this is going to be a vacation!” We’ll be spending two weeks away from home traveling to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone, and Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park (plus a stop at Grandma’s house on the way home). We’ll be doing some tent camping, as well as a few nights staying in cabins. It should be quite the adventure. And it involves 40 or so odd hours of driving!
Needless to say, I’m trying to be very well prepared for our time in the car so that we aren’t tempted to have the kids zone out to waaaay too many DVDs. Sure, we’ll probably watch a few movies. But I think we’d like to keep it to one long movie or a couple shorter shows per driving day (We have four 8-9 hour driving days, plus one 5-6 hour driving day planned for our trip).
So this list is as much for me to organize my ideas as it is to share a few ideas with readers.
1. Audio books: Miss M has enjoyed audio books for several years (though she hasn’t listened to many recently), but in the past the boys never really wanted to listen. We tried a short, fun audio book on a trip to Chicago earlier this summer, and everyone really enjoyed it! I’m requesting several audio books on CD from the library for our trip. Some are long, some are short. That seems like a pretty easy way for us to do it in the car, but our library also offers downloadable audio book loans as well, and there are many great free audio books available for download at Librivox.org.
2, Individual “Snack Packs”: On short trips we just play “toss the snack” to the back row and hope it doesn’t spill or fall on the floor. But a long trip calls for a different solution. I have seen some super cute “snack box” ideas on Pinterest, but we keep it simple around here. Each kid gets a brown paper lunch bag, and I fill it with snack size baggies or other individual snack items. Hungry kids can help themselves and perhaps the adult not driving can even sleep for a bit without being interrupted by “I’m hungry” (maybe).
3. Personalized coloring/activity books: Before the trip I’ll ask my kids what kinds of coloring pages they are in the mood for, and I’ll print some out from the vast reaches of the internet. The kids also like mazes, and Miss M might be up for some other printables like crossword puzzles or word searches. I saw the idea on a blog (but I can’t remember where) of including maps of each section of the trip to give kids an idea of where you’ll be driving each day. I’ll bind my kids “coloring books” with a pro-click spine, but binders work too (that’s what I did before I had the proclick).
4. Printable games to play: I’ve found some great travel game printables on Pinterest. I already have a few games printed and laminated from previous trips, and I’ll probably try and print out a few more before our upcoming vacation. These will get packed in a large baggie or three hole punched and stuck in a binder, along with dry erase markers. We could try some travel-size non-printable games…but I’m not sure my kids would do well not losing pieces at this point!
5, Games to play all together: We’ve discovered our kids love to play “20 Questions” (though we rarely manage to actually keep track of how many questions have been asked). Other favorites include I Spy, The Alphabet Game (find signs or items that start with/contain each letter), and a “Continued Story” where each person adds a sentence to a story told out loud. We’ll also pack a few Mad Libs books or similar printable fill-in-the-blank stories
6. Cut down on “Are We There Yet”?: This is going to be a new area of effort for us. Since this trip involves a lot more driving than usual, we’ll need to help the kids not ask that question that all parents dread hearing. ;-) We might use a combination of something to mark the passing of time (like a road trip countdown or a piece of tape with sections marked off for each hour of the trip) and maybe some kind of “prize” for the kid that asks that question least often!
7. Pack a few “crafty things” to keep the kids busy: I love the ideas in this post at 123homeschool4me. From cereal lacing necklaces to foil creations to beads on pipe cleaners, there are so many little things you could pack away to use on a trip. This will take a bit more effort and planning on my part, but hopefully I could pull at least a few ideas like this together.
8. Have “something new” up my sleeve: I’m sure my kids aren’t the only ones that can find something new highly entertaining. We got a couple gift cards for Christmas (one for a book store and one for a toy store) that I’ve been saving for a special occasion. I think this is it! I’ll surprise the kids each with one or two new “nice” things for the trip (books or a travel toy)…plus maybe some dollar store junk too.
Those are most of my great ideas for what to do while we are in motion in the car. Do you have any more ideas I should add to my list?
I’m linking up with Blogging through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me!