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Christmas is coming up, so you know what that means: road trips to see the family! If you're lucky enough to have your family close by, then you don't have to worry about the stressful holiday travel. But a lot of us pack up the car with green bean casserole and Christmas gifts and head off in search of a nice family bonding memory. And it WOULD be nice, if not for those meddling kids! Traveling long distances by car with kids is quite possibly one of people's least favorite parts of parenthood. Kids always need a snack, or to pee, or are boooooooored. And this is all within the first 30 minutes on the road! So this holiday season, we will definitely be employing some of these road trip hacks. Hoping it affords us at least an hour of peace and quiet.
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Here's the thing with road trip snacks: they will start a fight, or they will create a mess the likes of which you've never seen. We all know that when kids are at home with all their belongings and a million things to do they will still complain about being bored. And that usually means they harass you endlessly for a snack. Kill two birds with one stone by giving each kid their own snack caddy with their favorite travel snacks. Make sure to pack enough to keep them from dying of hunger before your first pit stop. And keep your sanity for the trip.
The whole goal of traveling with your kids should be keeping them entertained and quiet enough so that you can focus on the road and driving to where you're expected to be. Doing this with kids in the back seat, strapped in, confined, isn't easy. That means putting whatever will keep them happy near by so that they can handle getting their own snack, or tissue, or book to read. This will accomplish two things: they will not need to ask you for something every two minutes, and you won't get carsick from turning around to find what they want.
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We know you're not driving for four hours without your kids each having a screen. Even if you like to limit your kid's screen time and insist they do other things, a car trip is not the time for that. They have no where to go, they're strapped in and you need to be able to focus on the road. So, yes screen time it is -- and it'll be way easier if each of your children have their own screens so you're not playing referee. Headphones are a must too... cause then they won't be fighting over the small sound space. So make sure they ALSO have their own pair of headphones, so you don't have to listen to Cookie Swirl C's annoying-ass giggle.
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There is only so much time your kid will want to be on YouTube or watching movies. But with not much else to do, it's time to bust out those road trip travel games that even our parents used to play. The license plate game is great for older kids, or can buy a few cheap games at Target, like a road trip scavenger hunt. You can even keep it simple and old school, and teach your kids how to play Slug Bug. There are w lot of different ways your kids can -- hopefully quietly -- play board games and iSpy type of games while still in the car.
Sure, you'll probably get 60 pictures of your kid's nostrils and toes, and they'll try to blind each other with the flash, but disposable cameras are good for at least an hour of fun. Right?
You can get like 200 glow sticks for cheap at the .99 Store or Dollar Tree. Throw on some electronica and let your kids get in touch with their party monster sides.
Come up with a list of songs your kids know, and let them take turns belting out their favorite tunes. Bonus points if you bring along a fake microphone.
Cereal containers make great road trip trash cans! Just put a small trash bag in each container. Plus, they double as a barf-catcher should one of your kids get carsick.
Trace your route ahead of time, and keep your kids busy by having them follow along on their maps. Or, trace your route together and them each pick out one or two stops along the way!
Include one paper ring for every half hour or hour of travel, and then set the same number of alarms on your phone. Every time the alarm goes off, they know another chunk of time has gone by, and they get to take off one of the links! You can even write a fun activity for them to do on each link, or list a treat they get to have for making it another hour.