As you know, going camping is a great experience for the family to share. Seeing new sights, playing on new playgrounds, and experiencing new activities are all exciting parts of the trip. Sitting in a car for hours on end is generally NOT part of the excitement, for kids and adults alike. And let’s be honest, there are only so many Wiggles songs that you can listen to before going completely bonkers in the Big Red Car….
So, what can we do to make the experience one that doesn’t have us cringing with apprehension when the other half suggests a road trip? Quite a few things actually.
Plan ahead, and decide what is really needed in the car with you. Space is usually at a premium on road trips, with kids, food, toys and iPods all fighting for room in the back seat. Trying to fit all of these things in such a small space can be difficult, but kids need room to relax and not feel overwhelmed. And it’s a safety thing too – you don’t want items piling on top of your kids if you have to brake suddenly!
One container of healthy food (enough for a few hours)
One drink bottle of water each
Two small toys – a comforter (teddy, blankie etc.) and something to keep them occupied (iPod, DVD player, hand held gaming device) is enough. You can rotate these around if needed, with siblings or other kids in your group from other cars (kids love exploring other kids’ toys).
I like to have some books on hand too.
And, I have recently found a travel potty that has a lockable front on it to keep ablutions safe from spilling. Winning!
"I spy with my little eye, something beginning with..."
Old style games are great for long car trips. Think ‘eye spy’ and ‘road sign bingo’ — the internet has so many of these games as downloadable print outs, that you will be spoilt for choice! And remember, just because they are young, doesn’t mean they can’t join in….
“I spy something that is red?” - Anything they say that is red is great!
Now, I don’t usually like to have devices (think iPads, iPhones or Nintendos) on holidays, as I really think that they can interrupt special family time. But, I also appreciate the hours of enjoyment these can bring (for both kids, and their parents!), so they certainly can have their benefits.
I load up my iPads with educational games and movies for the long drives, but I make sure we have a time limit on each device. That way, the kids have their time on the devices, but special family time isn’t compromised. Also, the iPads don’t ever leave the car. When we arrive at the campsite, the devices are locked in the car glove-box for the way home again.
We are lucky, and have car seats with their own built-in headphones! This means that we can plug in portable DVD players, ipods / ipads or other hand held devices into the car seats, and the kids are the only ones that can hear them.
Check out the Safe and Sound range of seats for this feature.
Grab a stable table (I like the Ikea ones, as they are curved), and use it for colouring in books with crayons / pencils. It’s also nicer for kids to be able to have a table in front of them when they are eating too.
I hope this helps a little when thinking about your next big trip. Good luck!