Taking a family vacation in the old family car can sometimes be anything but a good time between home and your vacation destination. It is quite evident that boredom leads to irritability, hunger, space issues, and over the top tattling. So, what to do to keep mom from pulling her hair out?
When my children were young we would play games such as finding the abc's on road signs and on other vehicles. We would watch to see how many different states we could find from license plates, or count the cars on a passing train. We would also play "I'm thinking of something you would find in the kitchen (or anywhere else)." The rest of the group would ask yes or no questions until the item was correctly guessed.
I founded a few traveling must-do's for my family that helped to make our time spent in the car part of the vacation fun. Over the years these simple things became loved traditions by my four children.
1. I made up a Ziploc bag (with their name on it) filled with snacks for each child. It was kept as a surprise until we were on our way. It was up to each child to ration, share, or trade snacks among themselves. Each child was also issued a water bottle with their name on it. The "I'm hungry" or "I'm thirsty" from the back seat came to a complete stop! This must-do was mostly for me.
2. I gave each child a notebook with paper, pencil, and a few clear vinyl sleeves to hold souvenirs. (They would gather free pamphlets, leaves, flowers, rocks, feathers, wrappers from favorite snacks, ticket stubs, or whatever they wanted as keepsakes.) The kids used the notebooks to journal about the trip and they left space so that photographs could be added later.
3. The biggest hit that became a loved tradition was that before a family vacation I would purchase small activities that could be done in the car. (Activity books, coloring books, small crafts, games, or anything that could keep their hands and minds occupied.) I then gift wrapped each of the activities and put tags on them for each child. The bag of wrapped gifts would be kept at my feet and every 50 miles or every hour or so each child was presented with a gift to celebrate our time together.
These simple things made a world of difference in our travels. Today, my children are grown but we fondly share in our vacation memories and we celebrate the good times that we all had a part in creating for one another.