Travel Tips For Families On The Go


By: Molly Hayden Gold

I can honestly say that some of my fondest childhood memories include our cross country car trips. Not only did we cover the state of Ohio from South to North every Thanksgiving and August Hayden family reunion for as long as I can remember, but when I was 10, we took our first of many trips to Long Boat Key, Florida, a mere 22 hours and counting from our home in Cincinnati and later in Lincoln, Nebraska. Can you say road trip?

With my own family now spanning toddler hood to double digits, I always have travel games on hand to keep our inquiring minds wanting to know more than just the answer to the age old question, "Mom, are we there yet?" But beyond the travel games, here are a few tips I've found most useful to create lasting and hopefully happy memories as we take our trips down Route 66.

Fun

When it comes to media options, today's vehicles offer more opportunity to plug in than accessories you can remember to pack. For the video inclined passengers, give those classic travel games a lift and pick up a copy of "Are We There Yet?" This fun DVD makes travel games come alive in both an interactive and musical format. Perhaps the best bonus about this DVD is you don't have to take it on the road if your vehicle is not equipped. Simply learn the games at home with your family and lead them in the fun on the road.

Balance the visual stimulation with a basket full of fun, and quiet, options to encourage your kids to imagine the best. Books, both in hard copy and on tape, brain gym activities using pen and pencil, and low maintenance art supplies such Crayola's Wonder Line of markers and paper, will unleash the Picasso in them all. Include lap desks for a sturdy working surface and don't forget tactile items such as mid-size Legos for those who like to tinker and travel size board games for a little friendly challenge.

Exercise

Nothing like a well-timed game of tag at the nearest rest stop to get the kinks, and any cranky pants, out of the car and back in stride. Recent studies recommend that our children need 60 minutes of exercise every day. Travel days should be no different so plan your route to include two to four stops and pack a surprise to go along with the fun. Think chalk for hopscotch, jump ropes for a jumping contest, and bubbles to enchant your little ones. Parents and kids alike will benefit from getting out from behind the seat belt and into a wide open space to have some fun.

Food

If you want to save both time and money, plan a picnic to enjoy along the way. Eat just as you do at home. Pack nutritious and healthy options to be offered on a schedule, not as an activity to stave off boredom. Depending on the length of your trip, you might consider a portable cooler that you can plug into your car. Stock it with bottled waters, naturally stain free for both car and clothes alike. Choose both child friendly and adult sizes with pop tops to minimize spills. Include self contained snacks such as apples and carrots that pack the crunch of chips but keep the mess to a minimum, and protein packed sandwiches to keep everyone satisfied until you reach your destination. Pack more than enough of each rider's favorite in individual bags and small shapes to make eating a breeze if you choose not to picnic on your exercise break. Got a sweet tooth? If surviving close quarters without bouncing off the walls is your goal, share the love, but not the sugar. That being said, don't underestimate the power of a Tootsie Pop when all else fails to induce the quite game for your chatty Cathy in the 3rd row. Just use it as a last resort and hopefully not before you are halfway there.

Rest

One of the main reasons we travel with our families each year to get away for the stress of our daily lives and take a break. Riding in the car can be a relaxing time, with new things to see and learn about while lulling us into a calm state a mind, thanks to the hum of the highway. Don't assume that you have to have an activity for every moment of the trip. In fact, too much stimulation and distraction can be unsafe for the driver and bring on an unfortunate case of car sickness for the weaker stomachs in the group. Just as you do at home, designate a time for rest in your day. Bring along a CD of purely instrumental music designed specifically to encourage relaxation. Time this activity around mid-day to encourage a nap out of any one who might want one. You'll be surprised to see your older kids nod off first. Just be sure your driver has a fresh cup of coffee at hand to counteract the pull of the peace that descends each row in tow.

Basics

Outfit your car with basic survival items to keep you all clean and comfortable as you go. Include tissues, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and a small first aid kit to include both Benadryl for sudden allergies and Pepto-Bismol for upset tummies. And finally, though I hate to say it, make sure you have strategically placed receptacles for those unpredictable messes that might come your way.

Happy Trails!

This article was written for Banyan Entertainment. Banyan Entertainment, a new division of Banyan Productions, is dedicated to developing and producing original content for DVD and video-on-demand distribution. Banyan's programs—including Trading Spaces, Baby Story, Wedding Story and Birth Day—currently air in more than 30 countries worldwide. Are We There Yet? Starring Miles the Goose is their first DVD offering and has already won 2005 National Telly Awards for both Kids Programming and Travel/Tourism. More information about Are We There Yet? can be found on http://www.milesthegoose.com/.

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