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Before You Begin
by Laurel Smith

Prepare Yourself for Your Family Road Trip

Traveling with children by car can be a real challenge for any parent. You can endure it, or you can try to enjoy it. 

Consider this -- You have something special on a long car journey that is difficult to find anywhere else. What you have is time -- lots of it.  This is time to spend together without all the distractions of everyday life.  It's time to talk, sing, read to each other and play games. There are no dirty dishes, laundry, housework, homework, school, or jobs to steal the moments away from you. It's just you, your family and the open road. What you have is time for the important process of “making memories.” It’s precious time, so don’t waste it.  Before long, precious moments like these will be fleeting, and you’ll be asking yourself where it all went. 

Getting there really can be half the fun, if you’re prepared. Plan ahead with some engaging activities for the road so you can help keep boredom at bay. I cannot stress this enough. You must have some activities prepared in advance! What you plan will depend on the ages of your children, their energy levels, their interests and yours. Keep in mind that it’s not about you entertaining them. It’s about everyone having fun – together – even the driver. 

If you travel by car frequently, I recommend starting your own “box of tricks” which is simply a collection of items needed for the activities and games that your family enjoys. Use a small bin that will fit easily under the seat, or even just a canvas bag. When you are not traveling, keep this box of car game items stored away and do not let the children play with the items except while you are on a trip. This way they will be new all over again each time you hit the road.  It also amplifies the wonder of every item in this special box, and they are all the more appreciated when they have access to it. Instead of dreading the hours in the car, they will anticipate playing with the items in this box.

Prepare yourself mentally as well. It might not always seem like a picnic, but your attitude will set the tone for the rest of your passengers. Realize that your vacation begins in your driveway, not at your final destination. The minute you all get into the car is when the adventure with your family starts.

It’s not unusual to have many activities going at once. Some activities are on-going and may last the entire trip (like Slug Bug, or counting cows). Some may just be fun ways to pass the time (string figures, singing). Others will be shorter lived, competitive, and have a clear winner (games). It’s all part of the memory making journey, and preparation is key.

Plan well, and bring along whatever else you think you might need, but above all -- bring your sense of humor and an open mind.

--Laurel Smith

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 Don't miss all my free Printable Car Games!


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Road Trip Mom recommends:

Back Seat Travel Games Tin

For kids of all ages. A travel tins with various activities. Comes with magnetic pieces & activity cards. Hours of Fun!

Available at Amazon

Back Seat Survival Kit
From Klutz. A full-color book of car  activities, plus a game pad, and a vinyl pouch full of everything you need  Hours of Fun!

Available at Amazon

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Roadtrip Mom Recommends:
Ultimate Road Trip Games!
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It's loaded with printable car games!

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