When you’re a parent, you probably love your life overall, as well as those in it. Still, you need to hit the road once in a while when your routine turns into a rut. You might think about getting away from the kids for a while, but they might have to travel just to be taken to the grandparents that watch over them. On the other hand, you might be looking forward to family memories. Still, you have to be rightfully prepared. Packing plenty of things for kids to do in the car while on the road can spare you many hours of grief. Having backseat DVD players in your car helps, but it’s not enough.
Infants Up To 2:
Kids in this particular age bracket are going to sleep a lot on a long drive. That might seem like a blessing at first, but it also means their nightly sleep pattern might get thrown out of whack. Plan in advance for plentiful breaks at any and all rest stops so you can nurse, change their diapers, or just let them burn off energy. Make sure you pack familiar and favorite blankets and stuffed toys.
Kids 3, 4, and 5:
It’s going to require some ingenuity to occupy members of this particular age group. Help your kid pack their own child-sized backsack full of activities. Find something unique that has minimal pieces to get lost. Pretzels and fruit snacks are great choices for them to nibble on between meals. Coloring books, crayons, and reading books are great choices too. Still, don’t forget to bring along their favorite stuffed animal and blanket too, whether they seem like they need them or not when they leave.
Older Children 6 To 9:
You’d never admit it to younger kids or other parents, but you might enjoy traveling with this age group more than when they were younger. Games could be invented, like counting red cars that pass by. You can even have games involving reading license plates, if they can see through the windshield as much as you. Still pack some good books, along with crayons and coloring materials; they haven’t outgrown this yet. Even in this age bracket, the favorite stuffed toy and blanket are going to see to their comfort.
Tweenagers 10 To 12:
This is a finicky group, by any stretch of the imagination. They’re little kids at heart one moment and then dramatic teenagers the next. Have patience, and be ready for both. In lieu of a stuffed animal and blanket, they’re more likely to need their music and headphones. Movies and books also go a long way here, as they might need genuine escapism at this stage in life.
Teens 13 To 15:
This age group rarely likes being seen with their parents, which makes a road trip being stuck with their parents all the more intriguing. Down deep inside, they love you, and they love being your children, but they need to look cool in front of the other teenagers. Make sure there are plenty of movies, music, and headphones. Portable video game systems might even be possible if they are responsible enough. You might encourage them from time to time to talk about the trip and the places you’re seeing along the way.
Older Teens 16 To 18:
The newness of the teenage years had worn off at this point. If you can, make them feel important by letting them chip in on the driving and navigation, provided they’re good enough and you trust them. Give them as much wiggle room as you can for decisions and choices, and they’re going to feel more like a grown-up, meaning they’re less resistant to spending time with you. Having said that, the adults might spend most of the time in the front with them in the back, so while they should be packing their own entertainment at this point, be sure they included movies, books, music, and their own headphones.
Travel can always be an adventure, but children coming along can make even the simplest and most mundane trip an adventure all in itself. Still, your kids aren’t young forever, so be sure to take any opportunity you have to create memories on the road, even if some of them are disasters.