Nothing says summer time like a good road trip! As a kid, I just LOVED the excitement leading up to a road trip. We’d leave very early in the morning and my mom would drive until lunch. Then she’d break out the cooler she’d packed with lunch supplies – we’d never waste money on fast food or snacks – and we’d have a picnic at a roadside rest stop. At the time, I only cared about going on vacation. Now, I realize how much effort it is to pack up the whole family, plan for meals during the entire trip, and drive the whole stinkin’ way all by yourself! WHEW! But she did it for us and I’ve done it for my kids (though I admit we often go the fast food route!).
I have to say our kids are pretty AWESOME on long road trips! Thank goodness for small miracles, right? There are lots of short road trips for us during hockey season (less than 3 hours one way) and we usually take a long road trip once every summer or so. Our last long drive was in August of 2013. For the second time, we drove from Buffalo, NY to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My hubby couldn’t get the time off work so I was driving solo but we did bring Grandma along for the trip – it’s best not to have the kids outnumber the adults, if ya know what I mean! 😉 Driving there never seems to be a problem for me. I’m pretty motivated to get to the beach; you may have noticed that already about me! But let’s face it, it’s a 14 hour drive (without traffic) and doing that with one driver is rough. The last time we drove this we hit MAJOR, HORRIBLE, MIND MELTING traffic and I think it took 20 hours to get there…or maybe it was 37 – I lost count! Still, the beach was waiting at the end of the torture so I powered through. Coming home wasn’t as easy. I wanted desperately to get it done in one day but I had to accept my limitations, suck it up, and pay for a hotel. The kids just loved that though…hotels are such an adventure – until the wifi doesn’t work! Got any road trip horror stories of your own? Share them in the comments section below.
For this last trip, I did a lot of research online to find fun things to keep the kids busy that did NOT involve an electronic device. There are some FANTASTIC resources out there in blog land, people! I don’t want to pass off any of these ideas as my own so I’m really glad I bookmarked these great sites. I compiled pages from each of these sites into books for each of my kids. I used 3 ring binders with a “custom” cover for our books – get it here and edit for your family trip! Some pages were the same in both books but others were specific to their personal interests. My daughter likes Mad Libs so her book contained a few of those. My son likes Greek Mythology so he had a few word searches and crossword puzzles geared towards that. Everyone got in the fun of looking for license plates (I do that whenever I’m driving!), playing road sign bingo, and competing in the scavenger hunt. I also added some blank pages for hangman and tic-tac-toe. These old school games are still loads of fun despite our high tech world. The custom books were a hit with my 11 and 14 year old kiddos and really helped to kill the time. They especially came in handy when we were unexpectedly parked on the interstate!
Here are just some of the amazing resources I used:
Road Trip Bingo from Oopsie Daisy Blog
We used the road sign printable because my kids are older but I love that she’s got a few for younger kids too.
“Road Trip” Date Printables from The Dating Divas
For this trip we only used the license plate game printable but if my kids were younger, I would have used the countdown technique too. What a great idea! When you’re driving for so long, the last thing you want to hear is “are we there yet?” so their technique could be a life saver! On a subsequent road trip this fall with just me and the hubby, I pulled out The Dating Divas “Road Trip” Questionnaire. We had alot of fun with it and it sparked some great conversations. Thanks ladies!
“Fun in the Sun” Car Games from Kiki & Company
Another great set of FREE printable car games for the kiddos. Seriously you bloggers are so creative and generous!
Road Trip Scavenger Hunt (get mine here for FREE!)
I ended up making my own version of this that I thought would cover the areas that we were traveling but the idea came from these two lovely sites:
Mom’s Minivan Scavenger Hunt (check out this WHOLE site for many more road trip ideas!)
Roadtrip Scavenger Hunt
Word searches, puzzles, etc
Classroomjr.com is an AMAZING site full of FREE activities for every season and topic you can imagine. I used their summer, beach themed puzzles for our books (did you expect anything else?!)
Most importantly – MAKE IT YOUR OWN! Hunt down topics you know your kids will be interested in. Research places you’ll be passing by and look for educational websites that offer printable games, coloring pages, or info sheets. Most state and national parks, monuments, and memorials have websites and educational documents available. (I’ll be writing about the National Park Service Jr Ranger program in a future post) My goal on a trip is always to have fun but also to educate. Sshhh….don’t tell my kids!
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”