How can I handle long car trips with my child?

“Are we almost there?”

“How long, ‘til we get there?”

“I’m tired of riding!”

      Traveling by car with children can be a challenge. They get bored and restless when confined to a small space for hours, and siblings forced to sit with each other often end up arguing and whining. It takes advance planning and patience if parents want travel too relatively smoothly.

      Before the trip, tell your child some of the travel details, including where you’ll be driving, when you’ll be stopping each day, and how long the trip will take. Talk about points of interest along the way, perhaps consulting guide books for information about an area’s history and special sites. Also talk to her about behaving in the car. Let her know ahead of time how you want her to act.

      Try to make the drive as physically comfortable as possible. Have her bring a pillow and blanket, and be sure she’s wearing comfortable clothes. Have her wear shoes she can take off during the ride and quickly get into for short stops.

      As much as possible, time your travels to coincide with your child’s schedule. Early morning and late evening are usually calm times for six- to nine-year-olds, and she may sleep if your drive includes those hours. Plan plenty of stops for snacks or exercise. Look for rest stops with playgrounds or safe areas for jogging or jumping jacks. A ten-minute break can help her feel less restless. Changing seats periodically may help, too. Let her have a turn in the front seat where she’ll have a good view as you drive.

      Listen to the radio, a tape, or CD together, or let her bring a Walkman with headphones. Sing together or play car games such as Twenty Questions, I Spy, or Road Bingo. If you’re able to read while riding, pick a story to read aloud to the family. You can buy or rent audio recorded stories or poems or bring a tape recorder so she can make her own cassette.

      Pack several small bags for her to have in the car-one with food, one with things to do. The food bag can contain drinks and a variety of snacks that can be easily handled. The “fun” bag can include a deck of cards, paper, pens, stickers, a book, a magazine, a comic book, pipe cleaners, a small jewelry making kit, a pocket video game, or a simple map you’ve drawn showing where you’re going and what’s interesting along the way. Also encourage her to bring her own bag of amusements from home.

      Periodically during the trip you may want to give her small surprises geared to her interests. One child spent an hour making bracelets out of colored string and beads. Another worked on a book of mazes.

      Any new toy, game, or interesting object will hold your child’s attention for a while, but if the trip is long, you’ll eventually hear, “Are we almost there?” (Be prepared to answer that several times.) But at least with patience and planning, you can avoid major conflicts and keep her reasonably content for most of your drive.

Picture Credit : Google