“Are we there yet?” The unavoidable road trip question asked of all parents a countless number of times from the backseat of their car. Sitting in the car for hours can be difficult, even for adults, so it’s no wonder children become super antsy and whiny, especially when bored.
It’s important to understand that young kids have a very limited concept of time. They are so absorbed in the present moment that everything to them is new and fresh. This is why kids can easily be sobbing one minute and laughing hysterically the next minute. So when you tell your child we will be there is 2 hours, you might have well said 10 hours or 20 minutes. We recommend framing time in terms your little one will comprehend such as we will arrive in 3 episodes of "Blue’s Clues". It may also be helpful to create a simple map and visually show them how far they have traveled and how far they have left to go.
In addition, if possible, try to be flexible with your schedule and plan frequent breaks and spend extra time at rest stops if your child becomes restless or cranky. Your kids can expend their pent-up energy by playing catch or jumping rope at each stop.
Healthy snacks and drinks have also proven to be a great distraction in the car and help improve foul moods. Some nutritious options include: squeezable yogurt tubes, dry cereal, granola bars, string cheese, dried fruit, fresh fruit, mini bagels, cut veggies and hummus, pretzels and graham crackers.
And lastly, don’t forget to pack plenty of diversions such as favorite CD’s, coloring books, toys, tablets and games. Road trip printables such as a Scavenger Hunt and Road Trip Bingo are a terrific option encouraging kids to be on the lookout for certain items along the way. Older kids will enjoy the License Plate Game where they are given a map of the US and each time they spot a different state license plate, they color that state in. Classics such as 20 Questions, Mad Libs and I Spy are always crowd pleasers as well. To break up the monotony of a long car ride, we suggest giving children a new activity every 30 min to an hour depending on how long the trip is.
We wish your family a fun and stress-free journey. Happy travels!