Kids in the back! No matter how much they complain, they’re more secure in the back, snuggly fastened in the safety seat that’s appropriate for their age and weight. Visit www.safekids.org, the website for the nonprofit National Safe Kids Campaign, for more car safety seat information.
- Provide maps for the kids so they can help navigate and follow the route. Laminate them for younger children.
- Bring along a grab bag full of inexpensive goodies to stifle the groans when they realize there are still two hours to go. Favorite plastic action figures for younger children, CDs for older ones, even souvenirs they wanted at the last stop will be a welcome surprise. Let the kids dip into the grab bag each time you cross a state line.
- A roll of masking tape enables the back seat crowd to mark their own seating spaces. They can also decorate their seats with tape, without doing any permanent damage.
- Bandages are great to keep handy, not only for childrens’ scrapes and scratches, but to for playing hospital with dolls and stuffed animals along the way.
- Individual plastic water bottles for everyone become instant souvenirs as well as thirst quenchers. Kids can have fun decorating their bottles with favorite stickers from home, as well as new ones they get on the trip.
- Peanut butter or your family’s equivalent is essential because kids inevitably get hungry as soon as you’ve passed the last roadside stop for 50 miles. Bring along bread, crackers, carrot and celery sticks, fruit and bagels. A few treats will make the miles go faster, too. Cherry lollipop, anyone?
- Books on tape can be borrowed from your local library or rented at the video store. There are lots of family choices, including Harry Potter’s escapades and Judy Blume’s wonderful stories. When listening to their favorite tales, kids will forget how much farther they have to travel!
- Plenty of spare batteries are must-haves for youngsters’ tape, CD, MP3 players and video games.
- Portable DVD players are terrific, especially if it’s a long trip with young children.
- Plan interesting stops along the way to take a break for a picnic or a local attraction. Let the kids help plan where to stop.
- Above all, keep your sense of humor!