Our first driving trip from Calgary to Florida was a disaster, but of course, it did not start out that way. Our children were so excited about meeting Mickey Mouse, the long drive did not seem to phase them. Besides, according to our map, Florida was only 11 inches away! We were ill prepared, chose all the wrong foods and were frustrated even before we were out of town.
We did make it to our destination, in a blur and by some luck, returned exhausted and in desperate need of a holiday, swearing never to leave the house in a vehicle again. But, travel again we did. Our adventures have taken us across Canada, to the Everglades, NASA, Disneyworld, San Diego, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore and Cincinnati.
Travel by car requires more time and flexibility but it is one of the most rewarding ways to see the countryside.
Some car travel tips:
Get everyone involved. Get out the maps, travel books, rulers, surf the net — even very young children can talk about the things they would like to see and do. Encourage one of your children to be the photographer or official writer to report back for the next family newsletter.
Surprise packages. Wrap a new book or trinket from the dollar store for each child to open every 200 kilometers. Activity, coloring books, magic pens, cards, magic slates, book lights, washable markers, magnetic games, craft kits and modeling wax are great gifts for the road.
Food. The best rule is not to take anything you do not mind having ground up in your upholstery. Foods we have success with are grapes, separate water bottles, apple chips, juice boxes, raisins, cheese and crackers (string cheese is more fun), fruit roll-ups and pretzels. Foods we have had messy results with were gum, grape juice, chocolate, bananas and popcorn. Individual bags help eliminate any fighting.
Fighting. It is inevitable. For us, books on tape from the library worked well. The library will often extend the due date if you need more time. An older child might enjoy a new travel journal, or a novel. One family uses tape to mark off individual boundaries. Consider switching seats, sending mom or dad back for a change of pace.
Car games. There are many games that everyone can participate in. Twenty questions requires one person to pick an object and others can ask yes and no questions to try and guess the object. The first person to guess the right answer goes next. Car Bingo and I Spy are favorites for young children. We often play a game where the first person is "A" and says something like: "My name is Anabelle and I am going to Antarctica and I am taking Apples with me," the next person is "B" and it continues. Plan the return in advance. It is often on the way home when the excitement is over that boredom and fighting set in. Plan for it before you leave and make sure you have plenty of extra surprises for the way back.
Debbie is a freelance writer (who wants a real vacation!).
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