Chances are good you'll be spending some time in the car over
this Fourth of July weekend. If the trip will be longer than a
couple of hours, you'll need to be prepared. Try these four
1. Bring food.
The key to kids' happiness (OK, the key to my kids' happiness)
is snacks in the car. I try to stick with healthy stuff that
doesn't make a mess. That means grapes (both fresh and frozen,
which helps keep the cooler cool), bananas (make sure to toss those
peels into the next available garbage can--never make the mistake
of leaving them in a hot car) and easy-to-peel clementine
2. Bring water.
I know kids like fruit juice and soda, but your car seats don't.
Stick with water. It doesn't stain or get sticky when it's spilled.
And you can restock for free at the next water fountain. Besides
all of that, water is just better for everyone.
3. Get some exercise.
Our rule was no more than two hours in the car at a time,
especially when the kids were toddlers strapped into car seats.
They need to move. We're big believers in taking country roads, so
it was never tough to find a town park to let them run around. If
you're a highway lover, pull off at the rest stop. It might not
have a swing set, but it will have a patch of grass for running.
When it rains, we look for a fast food joint with an indoor play
space. It's well worth the price of a cup of coffee or an order of
If you can't get out of the car, you can exercise in the car. My
favorite: a variation on the head, shoulders, knees and toes song
you can read about here.
4. Read a map.
I know you've got a GPS, but it won't help you find the detours
along the way. For that, you need a map. If I hadn't been looking
at a map on a recent drive home from Orlando, we never would have
known we were just 30 miles from Planes, Georgia, and an improptu
visit to the home of former President Jimmy Carter. He was even in
town and, had we been able to stick around until Sunday, we could
have listened to him teach Sunday School. Or so we were told.
For younger children, print a map of your route off of Mapquest before you go and paste on photos of
the things you'll see along the way. When kids get slightly older,
let them follow the route on a real map. Once they're ready, give
them the responsibility to plot out alternative routes for short
Cindy Richards is the Chicago Parent travel writer and editor of
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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