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Make holiday road trips with kids more enjoyable for the entire family by ensuring the kids have everything they need to entertain and take care of themselves.

Traveling with children can be headache-free and even fun if the kids have the “right stuff” to entertain themselves during the drive.

Parents can limit squabbling, whining, and other annoyances by anticipating children’s needs and ensuring the kids have easy access to their stuff.

Packing for a family road trip is so important to make the trip enjoyable and safe. When the kids are happy, it allows the driver to remain focused on the road and avoids potentially dangerous distractions.

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Must Haves for Holiday Road Trips with Kids

DVD Player and Electronic Games for On-the-Road Entertainment

If there’s ever a time to indulge kids with extra media privileges, it’s during a long car ride.

Let the children select a few movie titles and put the DVDs in a portable, zippered case.

Spend some time before the trip teaching the oldest child how to operate the DVD player, and make sure each child has his own screen.

Consider DVDs of 30-minute TV shows and enforce a one- to two-hour break between movies to ward off video overload.

Nintendo Switch, Kindle Fire for kids and Leapster handheld games make for perfect in-car amusement.

Headphones for a Quieter Car Ride

Make sure each child has his own set of headphones or ear speakers for kids that will plug into the electronic devices.

Before hitting the road, demonstrate the volume controls and show kids the correct jacks for headphones in case they come unplugged.

The absence of blaring sounds and music from the back of the vehicle will allow mom and dad to hear one another, listen to grown-up music, or enjoy a book on tape.

Trip Journal for Hands-On Fun

Bring along coloring books, stickers, and a hard plastic case filled with crayons.

Before the trip, purchase blank books at a one-dollar store and let the children create a travel journal.

For each new town passed, have the kids write an entry to describe the city, e.g., “We saw Six Flags and three roller coasters.”

Children not yet writing can draw pictures and place stickers on the pages.

Kids will look forward to showing Grandma and Grandma their creations upon arrival.

→ AWESOME LIST OF TRAVEL TOYS FOR YOUNGER KIDS

Individual Lunchboxes for Travel Snacks

Include children in snack planning for in-between meals or stops.

Let each child pack a few items in his own school lunchbox, encouraging healthy choices that travel well, such as apples, peanut butter crackers, or dry cereal in a snack container.

The children will enjoy having quick access to a snack and won’t have to bug mom and dad when hunger strikes.

→ HEALTHY ROAD TRIP SNACK IDEAS

Refillable Water Bottles to Quench Excursion Thirst

Declare water the only beverage allowed in the car.

Unlike other beverages, it won’t go bad, it’s drinkable when warm, and it won’t give kids a sugar buzz.

Let each child pick a fun refillable water bottle so they can identify their bottle easily.

Refilling the bottles is easy and usually free, and children may drink less than they would of a tastier, sweetened beverage.

This will make bathroom breaks less frequent.

Atlas and Travel Guides for a Well-Planned Car Trip

Make each stop count by selecting exits that have everything needed, including a gas station, restrooms, and restaurant (if it’s mealtime).

“The Next Exit” is an annually updated interstate-exit directory that will help strategic plan breaks in the journey.

Roll of Quarters for Travel Behavior Modification

Money talks, including for younger children to whom a quarter seems as good as or better than a hundred-dollar bill.

Before the trip, get a roll of quarters for each child and tell them they can have their money to spend on whatever they’d like upon reaching the destination.

However, the kids lose a quarter anytime they fight, whine or otherwise disturb the driver.

This effective trick serves as a quick reminder to shape up or pay out.

Baskets or Bags for Easy Access

Use baskets or bags to keep everything organized and make it easy for kids to reach their stuff while remaining buckled safely in their seats.

Divided car-organizer bags work well for this purpose, or use household baskets.

Place the bag or basket between two kids on a bench seat, or get large bags with Velcro fasteners to attach to the seats in front of the kids.

Family Fun on the Road

Parents can maintain car-travel sanity for themselves and their kids by giving the children plenty of options for self-amusement.

Careful planning for en-route entertainment may prevent the incessant, annoying inquiries of “Are we there yet?”.

Everyone would enjoy the holiday visit with family more if the car ride to Grandma’s wasn’t a nightmare.

ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS

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