Summer is here. For many families, summer is the one time of year when their kids are available to take a trip, which is one of the reasons summer vacations have become synonymous with holidays. Done correctly, road trips can be a great bonding experience for you and your whole family, allowing you to see multiple places across the country. With kids, however, nothing is guaranteed, and a nice road trip can quickly spell disaster if they’re not entertained properly. That’s why it’s important to help your children pack a great road trip bag to keep them entertained on the road.
Talk to your kids about the trip
Children need preparation before taking a long trip. Helping your children understand how long they’ll be in the car can help them better prepare for the trip. For younger children who have a hard time visualizing time, you might want to compare the trip to things that they might have better associations with. Say something like, “We’ll be in the car about the same amount of time that you’re in school every day.” This helps them understand that a road trip isn’t the same as driving to grandmas and might need different preparation.
It’s also important to talk to your kids about how well they handle car rides. You may be able to encourage some children to bring a few books in the car to read, while others may become ill if they try to read in the car. Knowing your children’s tolerances can help you make good decisions about what to have them bring.
Work with what you have
If you have a DVD player built into your car, you may naturally gravitate towards encouraging your children to pack a few movies that they’ll like, while if you don’t have a DVD player in the car, you may be more likely to encourage them to pack their iPod and a set of neatly packed headphones. Ensure they pack their favorite comfort objects, including beloved stuffed animals or favorite toys, to keep them from growing homesick early in the trip.
Snacks are never a bad idea
You may already be planning to pack a cooler and some snacks for the family, but having one or two small snacks in their personal bag may help your kids make it a little further between stops. Your best bet is to pack snacks that aren’t messy, don’t take a lot of effort to open, and aren’t acidic in nature as acid can increase your kids’ chances of getting car sick.
Pack for worst-case scenarios
Even with your best-laid plans, things may go wrong. Always encourage kids to pack a paper bag in case they find themselves ill without warning, as well as things like blankets or sweatshirts in case they get cold during the trip.
Having a well-packed road trip bag can mean the difference between a fun road trip and a nightmare. Even if you’re hoping to have good chats with your kids while on the roads, it can be okay to let them have some of their own entertainment. If they get moody, or you find yourself in a stressful location and need some quiet, knowing that they can entertain themselves for a bit can be a lifesaver.