Road Travel: Top 5 Ways to Engage Kids
Things have changed a bit since our parents stuck us in the backseat with a book. However, the need to keep kids entertained hasn't changed at all – they're still prone to crabbiness and fighting if left to their own devices.
Thankfully, you don’t' have to give up road trips in favor of peace – here are the top five ways to keep the peace while keeping kids happy on the road.
1. Choose the Next Stop
Before you set off on your trip, order or print brochures from as many restaurants, historic spots, roadside entertainment venues and other attractions as you can find.
During each leg of your journey, pick one activity and one child, letting them choose the next stop. Be sure to include only area-specific choices so you don't end up eating the same burgers you get back home. Rotate choices and kids so nobody feels left out.
If you plan carefully, you can extend this activity by giving kids different hotel brochures in the area where you plan to stop for the night, but always have a backup plan in case their chosen spot is already booked solid.
2. Old-School Games
Some of the games you played with your siblings are still fun today! Ask kids to count the numbers of red cars they spot. Offer a small prize for the strangest road side attraction (judged by parents).
These games can get stale fairly quickly, but they do offer a short diversion and can spark some interesting conversations.
It's tempting to pop in a child's favourite cartoon and let the electronic 'babysitter' take over, but try to make their travel entertainment educational.
Get them excited about their destination by ordering travel DVDs about the area you'll be visiting.
Many have options which are specifically geared toward kids, but virtually any visually-exciting 'tour' will do the trick.
As an added bonus, let each child pick a place to visit from these videos once you reach your destination.
4. Homemade Game Shows
Using either video or printed 'study' guides, give your kids some time to learn about the area you'll be visiting.
Turn it into a fun activity by asking them game-show-style questions after they're done, offering a small prize for the most correct answers.
5. Leave Time for Side Trips
Whether they're spur-of-the-moment or planned ahead of time, taking kids on small side trips is perhaps the best way to avoid that cooped-up feeling.
Traveling by car is a time-honored pastime in North America, and there are loads of strange, odd and downright weird attractions just waiting to keep your little ones entertained. You'll have plenty of choices, ranging from educational to plain silly, each guaranteed to relieve your kids' boredom and give you some much-needed peace once you're all back in the car.
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