When you’re blessed with wonderful neighbors, their presence just adds to your well-being. Shannon, my next-door neighbor, is a gift from God to me and all of our neighbors. (She’s on the cover of “The Mouth Trap: the butt stops here!” and she’s always ready to help, even though she’s an extremely busy mom, teacher, spiritual adviser for women in her church, wife and devoted daughter to her parents.)
To help me with ideas for a long car trip with kids for my appearance on "Afternoon Live," a television talk show in Portland, Oregon, Shannon wrote out some fabulous ideas for making long, car trips with kids more fun and easy. Unfortunately, I didn’t see her email until the day after I was on the show! But lucky for you, I’ve put her email in this blog so you can reap the benefits of the wisdom in her wonderful ideas. (I’ve also given you a link to my segment on television about this topic, so you’ll really be ready for a fabulous trip with those little ones. And now, HERE’S SHANNON!
My mind was racing with thoughts so I don't think I'm going to wait for the kiddos’ input. I already know most of what they'll say. This will be a lot, so just pick what you'd like:
DRESS: Dress comfy and cute with hair brush handy. Have slip on shoes, small sized blankets that can be used for pillows or covers or both.
FOOD: I have a dry food bag and a cooler bag up with me and a different colored bowl for each person and every person has a water bottle with his/her name on it. I'm a bit stingy on the food because I can't stand food trash in the car. The front seat and back seats have trash bags and wipes and napkins. You can use the cute little totes from the dollar store to put these in. I think it's best to have something that closes so it can be on the floor and won’t matter if it gets stepped on or falls over.
As needed I'll put some "clean" snacks in a bowl and pass it to them. They never know what they are getting. Clean snacks are healthy and do not make a lot of crumbs, like apple slices, carrots, almonds, other fruits and veggies and every once-in-a-while I might throw in M&Ms or something for fun. But I keep candy to a rarity as it doesn't help with sitting still for hours at a time.
PACK: Each person has a small travel bag with them with their favorite stuffed animals or toys and things to do inside.
HAVE A PLAN FOR STOPS: On our annual trips, we have regular stops that we go to no
matter if we need them or not. It builds tradition, memories, familiarity and fun to return to the same place every time.
For a new trip have a laminated map with white board pens to write on so that everyone knows where we are and how far until we get there. map with white board pens to write on so that everyone knows where we are and how far until we get there. Rotate travelers writing in a single travel journal.
ENTERTAINMENT: I limit the kids' movie time and electronics time so these are some other things we do or could do.
- It's handy to have a timer that goes off for everyone to hear.
- We have "just look around time” so they can get a feel of the area we are traveling through.
- Listen to an audio book together.
- Each kid has his/her own blank sketch book (my kids' favorite) with colored pencils (little kids could have coloring books).
- Sewing: crocheting, friendship bracelets.
- Play games: question cards, "I Spy," "Would you rather?," sing along songs, category alphabet game, license plate/billboard alphabet game, bingo and scavenger hunt print outs you can find online (laminate and use dry erase markers), name that song, tic tac toe dry erase, printable battleship game, name that song (only listen to the intro), movie one-liners, fidgets, window clings, 21 questions, white board markers on windows (I just thought of this, but I've never done it. I figure it'd have to get it wiped off quickly.)
- Rotate DJ responsibilities.
- For a long and new trip, every place you stop, you have to try a "local" food item that is Unique.
- On our move to and from Texas, I made some "grab bags" for Rachel. Every so often (I can't remember my time span, maybe it was every two hours), she would get to pick out a little closed brown lunch bag out of a box. Inside of it would be some sort of cheap toy or thing that would consume her for the next little bit of the trip. (The dollar store or cleaning out a junk drawer is great for this. Sticky notes, stickers, widgets, etc.)
- I saw something where each kid gets their own cookie tray so they can do puzzles and such. I've never done this, but might be a good idea especially if their toy is magnetic. I like bowls instead of flat things because they can find a place for them to sit better than a flat tray.
I hope this helps. Have fun! I'll record it as usual 😊
P.S. If you'd like some fun reading material when you get to your destination, how about reading The Joy of Being Disorganized?