Are We There Yet! (my top 5 tips for surviving a road trip with kids)

The finishing line is almost in sight, no more packed lunches, homework, last minute surprise projects to complete and no more dragging my kids out of bed, yelling at them (I mean encouraging them) to hurry up, or we’ll be late, again!  Summer is on its way and for our family that means “Road Trips”.  With four kids, and the cost of air travel, its really our only option and fortunately my kids love them, (my 12 year old feels cheated if our holiday destination is not at least 5 hours drive away!) We’re fairly good travellers but it can still get a little rough after hours crammed in a car together! Here are my top 5 tips for a fun Road Trip experience.

1. Keep Them Entertained – We have the usual DVD player in the car and the kids bring their favourite electronics but are favourite way to pass the time are still the classic games I played when I was young.  We always collect the license plates of all the US states and Canadian provinces. We have a book that stays in the car and each trip we try to better the record from our previous trip.  Hawaii is proving elusive but we have managed to check off Alaska!  Ispy is another favourite, for the younger ones we look for something of a specific colour instead of beginning with a certain letter to make it easier, although the kids can get quite specific “I spy something that is duck egg blue” for example.

Car Bingo is always a hit.

road trip bingo

Last year on our trip to New England I made these activity sets for everyone.  They contain a magnetic tic tac toe board, bingo and pages to journal or doodle on.  Plus word search and spot the difference puzzles and are favourite game dots & spots – you take it in turns to join two dots together with a line and whoever completes the most boxes wins. They were a hit and as everything fits perfectly into a tin it was easy to take with us into restaurants and to the beach to continue the fun. I’ve had quite a few requests from friends to make these, so have added them to my Etsy shop.

road trip tic tac toe game

road trip games

2. Breaks – We try to stop every 2 hours for bathroom breaks, and to stretch our legs. Plan interesting breaks along the way, taking in a great view, or historical spot, or just stop at a local park and play a quick game of frisbee to burn off some energy before sitting still again for a few more hours. At rest stops where space may be limited pack chalk for a quick game of hopscotch or bring a jump rope.

3. Snacks – Pack snacks and lunch for the journey, its much better than the type of food available at the service stations and then you can stop when your kids are hungry.  For snacks on the go try and pack foods that are not too messy and have garbage bags and wipes on hand too, someone will always spill something! As we don’t all get hungry at the same time and to avoid squabbles I pack everyone their own lunch bag with their favourite foods (limiting the amount of sugar so they are not all bouncing off the seats).

4. Surprise Gifts – A long journey can get boring, so to avoid the chorus of “Are we There Yet?” I wrap a few surprise gifts and hand them out when we reach certain points in our journey, to boost morale! I choose things they can play/create with. Pipe cleaners are great for making into creatures or jewellery or if you are my two boys – swords!  Another favourite are sticker books, window markers (must be washable or Dad will not be a happy camper!) and embroidery threads for making friendship bracelets.

5. Patience – Pack lots of this. This should have been number one really because however well you plan things will go wrong, that’s life!  Try not to stress and go with the flow after all this is part of your holiday, enjoy and have fun!!

In case you haven’t been near a TV in the last few days, The World Cup has started.  It really shows off the multi cultural spirit of Canada, everyone wearing their team colours & flags everywhere!  Whenever we are in the car, either on the way to school, the grocery store or soccer practise we try to identify all the different flags we see.  A friend of mine suggested that I make a bingo card for my activity set with all the flags so we could mark off the ones we have seen.  Such a great idea (thanks Michelle) and so I did!

We have had so much fun with this, and its a great way for the kids (and me) to learn a little about world geography  If you’d like to play along with your kids too then you can download this bingo sheet and print it off.  So far we have marked off 22 of the 32 countries! Let me know if you manage to see more!

world cup

download-buttonThese bingo cards are strictly for personal use only. If you are kind enough to share please do not link directly to the downloadable file, but to this page instead.

Whatever your plans are this Summer, I hope that if it includes a road trip somewhere, that these ideas will help. I’m always looking out for new ideas, so if you have any tips for stress free Road Trips let me know in the comments below.

Happy Travels

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