These are all of my favorite things that have helped me with my kiddos in the car and helped create our best road trips that I would happily and easily do again!
A pouch with their souvenir money inside – I picked up zipper pouches and placed souvenir money inside to give to them ahead of time as a reminder for behaving well. I give one reminder warning, but every whine or fight after the warning, and they owe me a dollar from their pouch. This has worked so well in the past I’ve actually not heard a peep from them for over 2 hours before and then over the top complimentary comments back and forth just to seal the deal they keep their trip money.
A binder for each child from the dollar store – I also picked up soft cover binders from the dollar store. I placed inside sheets I print out easily found on google. The license plate game, car bingo, mad libs, mazes, dot to dots … are all great additions. I have a laminator I like to use to keep the papers from tearing. The papers are put inside laminating pouches, which the girls can use sharpies on them (which won’t come off) or dry erase marker if we wish to save and reuse the sheets for the trip back. If you don’t have a laminator, pocket sheet protectors work great or even a strip of tape down the side and punch holes in the tape for the 3-ring binder loops. All options will prevent the sheets from tearing out of the binder before the trip is over and reduce tears or grumpy attitudes.
A map of your route with clearly labeled states – This helps kids as young as 4 or 5 be able to see where you are in your route and how much further you have to go. Plus it gives a little fun education to which states you’ve visited and a visual of the state or country depending on how far you’re traveling. It also provides a great souvenir for when it’s time for them to tell their school or friends about their trip and where they visited. This is another great idea to laminate or place in a sheet protector and put in the binder so they know exactly where to find it.
Small magnetic car games – These are always fun to have on the road! Our favorite mini magnetic travel car games are hangman, snakes and ladders and tic tac toe but there are so many more options as well. They keep interacting fun and eyes off the screens for a bit while the magnets ensure you don’t lose as many pieces. You do want to be careful with young children possibly putting small pieces in their mouths.
Something with a timer – I have my kids set a timer on their ipad or watch (or you could use a inexpensive kitchen timer, as well). This stops the kids from asking me “how much longer?!” every 5 minutes since they can see the countdown themselves whenever they feel like checking it. Just don’t forget to pause it for stops!
Plastic bags – Too often my kids enjoy handing me every tiny little piece of paper or wrapper (while I’m trying to drive!). To prevent so many distractions, I like to place a grocery bag between the armrests so that the kids can take care of their own trash. Especially with all the little tiny snack wrappers and straw wrappers that accumulate during a long trip in the car. Once it’s full, just throw out at your next stop and replace with a new one from the glove box.
Our last 2 car trips have been so successful with such low amounts of whining, I actually chose to give my girls 2 minute segments for whining a few times as rewards and stress relievers. We all agree these are ideas we’ll use every time we travel! Enjoy and safe travels!