A few things that work for us are:
1. Mapping out, or planning, breaks every few hours at rest stops that have bathrooms and gas for the car. One stop shopping is invaluable if we actually need or want to make it to our destination in a reasonable time frame.
2. Packing our lunch. Due to pronounced motion sickness, we limit food and beverage choices. It is easier for us to bring what can be eaten than to try to find something roadside. (This not only saves time, it saves money.)
3. Playing travel games to pass the time. We don't bring a lot of games. Instead most of our games are travel dependant or 'made up on the fly.' Some of the more well known games we like are:
- I Spy
- I See Something (a variation on I Spy by guessers asking questions about the chosen object's location)
- ABC Word Find (finding each letter, in order, at the beginning of a word on road signs)
- Car Color Competition (chose a color and find as many as you can in a set time)
- ABC Memory Game (we alter it by saying, "I'm going to fill in our current destination, and I'm bringing an accordion, banana, cactus,...)
- License Plate Game (find the state on the license plate and color its state on a map)
- Cat's Cradle or other string games
- Hangman on a whiteboard with erasable markers
- Fifteen Puzzle and Rubix Cube
4. Allowing our children to watch a little TV. Our van has a DVD player in it. For long full day in the car trips, we allow the children to pick a few DVDs to bring along. We generally use these to break up the trip. Though the DVDs don't last long and aren't played constantly, the change of activity helps alleviate some of the monotony of the ride.
5. Having each child pack their own personal Activity Bag for the trip. They take stuffed animals, small toys, books, word puzzles, drawing or coloring supplies, etc. for the car.
6. Bringing neck pillows. These compact, soft pillows are ideal for children travel pillows. Ours were graciously given to us by my mother-in-law.
7. Allowing for the occasional boredom to occur. Sorry folks, we refuse to schedule out every minute of our children's lives. They do get bored every once in awhile, even on long car rides with all of the above activities planned or provided. During these times, they need to learn how to work through the boredom of monotonous travel. Honestly, the boredom doesn't last long, and they are quickly engaging in something of interest in no time.
How about you? Any tips you'd like to share for traveling with children?
We would definitely welcome each idea as we have another car trip planned for September.