With the school year over and summer break already in full swing, there’s one thing this mama needs to prepare for: our next family road trip. For the past couple of summers, my husband and I have been taking our kids on different day trips or weekends away. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that when you’re driving in a car for many hours with two young children you want to be prepared with items to keep them happy and occupied, otherwise, the drive will not be a pleasant one.
My kids have been known to ask “are we there yet?” when we’ve only been on the road for 10 minutes (as I’m sure many other parents have encountered). My experience with long car rides with my son and daughter has taught me that aside from making sure we stop for bathroom breaks and having water and snacks for them, I need to ensure I pack things to entertain them in the car. Not doing so results in hearing “I’m bored!” or “This is taking so long!” Every. Five. Minutes.
So, to save my sanity and be able to enjoy the drive myself, I now have a pretty good list of must-haves for our family road trips.
The top of my list is headphones. My kids enjoy listening to music or having something to watch in the car, but there’s only so much of the same soundtrack an adult can take (my daughter could listen to Frozen or Moana on repeat). Also, my son and daughter usually want to do different things in the car, so having headphones helps from listening to competing sounds. On the occasion that they both might want to quietly watch something together, these headphones come in handy because of the ability to have more than one set plugged into a single device. Not only that, but my kids love how comfortable they are and the fact that they can decorate them with stickers provided in the package.
We usually bring two tablets on our road trips, and it’s not only because we have two kids so they each have one to use. One will have music playlists and downloaded movies or shows to watch and the other can be used for playing games. The kids love the variety of activities and games their LeapFrog tablet has, but when they want to take a screen break there are other fun activities and games to play that are travel-friendly.
My daughter loves to colour, but can still be a little messy when she’s getting creative. My perfect solution for allowing her to have fun colouring while in the car is with a Crayola Colour Wonder kit. It has everything she needs to colour, won’t stain the fabric of the car seats, and best of all, it’s compact and perfect for on-the-go! My son, however, enjoys puzzles and problem solving, so this travel-sized Kanoodle Junior is a great way to keep him occupied during the drive, and I love the fact that it comes in a small carrying case.
A way to keep both my children entertained is with a game they can play together, like this memory game from Melissa & Doug. And there’s no worrying about loose pieces because all the cards simply slide into the game board. But when the bickering begins, as it inevitably does, I usually hand them an activity book to distract them.
No car ride would be complete without a few stories to read, so I always make sure to pack books that my son and daughter can enjoy on their own, or that my husband and I read aloud to them (obviously not the person driving!) And if it just so happens they drift off for a nap while hearing a story, I like to keep a blanket handy to make sure they’re extra cozy! 😉
Oh, there’s one other thing I want to remind you for your next family road trip: don’t forget to capture the moments. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be caught up in making the memories that I don’t photograph them. I often regret not snapping a picture, or if I do I use my cellphone and then it stays in digital land never to be printed. That’s why I would love to get the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Camera. The prints may be small, but at least I’d have them handy to look back on our family memories. And to not run the risk of losing prints while on the road, I love this handy mini album.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get packing. I have two fun summer road trips to prepare for!