Road Trip Sanity Survival
“Are we there yet?” are some of the most dreaded words in the parent, child relationship. It often seems that these words are uttered before you’ve even left the driveway (although the same dynamic could apply to air or train travel as well).
When planning your vacation budget, be sure to include a portion of your expenses to cover off some sort of “sanity survival kit” for your travelling time- especially if you have young kids.
It’s About the Journey, not the Destination
Try telling that to a four-year-old who is focused on the arrival at the cottage, grandma’s house, the hotel, wherever. While you may revel in the anticipation of where you are going, your child, decidedly, does not.
It becomes all about distraction.
Time Release Toys
In many areas of life, success is all about timing. Spacing and delivery of your distractions is key to your travel success.
The travelling family’s best friend may just be your local dollar store. Buy each child an assortment of cheap toys and crafty things that are doable on the go. Up the entertainment (and distraction value) by gift wrapping each toy, and distributing a new toy at planned intervals (this can be over the course of a few hours or even a few days, depending on your needs).
Place the toys in a “treasure box” (i.e. a shopping bag) with the promise of distribution of the next one on good behaviour (and when interest in the current toy wanes).
The Power of the Snack
Tempers flare when blood sugar is low and little ones are hungry. Make sure you have a steady supply of good, nutritious snacks (that they like to eat) on hand.
You don’t want to deal with a child that is both hungry and bored.
Plan to Stop
Advice for road travellers is to stop and stretch their legs every few hours, to improve circulation. For those travelling with small children, my advice is to stop every few hours to improve (or maintain) your sanity.
Plan your stops where you know that there is going to be either green space to run around (dodging cars in the parking lot for exercise is not a good idea!) or in a place that you know to have an indoor playground or climbing area.
Travel at Night
You could also avoid much of the need for entertainment (as well as extra expenses, like hotel accommodations) by travelling at night, when kids are sleeping. This will only work if kids sleep well in the car, or if logistically you are able to do much of your travelling in the night hours.
There is a whole generation of car-worthy games that existed prior to tablets, video games and electronic devices. In addition to being distracting to bored children- they require no packing- and they are free. Win, win, win.
Predict how many cars of a certain colour make or model that you will spot during a set time period. Whoever is closest wins.
In the Alphabet game, have each person spot an object in the sequence of the alphabet.
For the Math-abled, add up the numbers on licence plates and see who can shout out the answers first.