Spring break is quickly approaching for most Arkansas families – and that means it’s time for a vacation! Many people choose locations within driving distance, which could mean hours of “ARE WE THERE YET?” We’ve got a list of must-dos for happy car trips – you’re definitely going to want to keep this in mind when you’re packing up the car this weekend! (Note: many of these tips can be easily adapted for airplane travel, as well!)
Find something to keep the children occupied and entertained. Bring coloring materials and paper for them to draw on, or books for them to read. However, this may not be the best idea if your children tend to get travel-sick often. For these kids, bring other toys that could keep them entertained, such as dolls or portable game consoles. Felt board playsets are great for traveling – they usually come packaged in a way that makes them portable and easy to store. The Knowledge Tree on University Avenue has a great assortment of travel toys that will keep your little ones’ hands and minds busy!
Play some music. Bring some CDs or make some playlists that you can play in the car. Alternatively, you can also just rely on the radio. It would be better if the songs being played are those that the children like and can sing along to, to keep their mood happy and light. My daughter was a big fan of They Might Be Giants children’s music – they have albums about the alphabet (Here Come the ABC’s) and science (Here Comes Science), and of course local favorites Brian and Terri Kinder have many great albums for children.
Play car games with them. Some examples of good games that you can play include the license plate game, or I’m Thinking of an Animal. My favorite car game is The Alphabet Game, which we play like so: each round has a category, like “names” or “animals.” The first player says something in that category which begins with an A, the second a B, etc. So it would go, for animals, “alligator, baboon, chinchilla, dog, etc…”
Purchase a portable DVD player or install an entertainment system in the rear seat of the vehicle. Bring DVDs your children’s favorite movies to ward off boredom. However, keep in mind that focusing on the screen for prolonged periods of time may not be good for their eyes, so vary the activities every so often instead of just letting them watch DVDs for the whole trip.
If the child is old enough, a laptop or tablet computer usually works well for games. However, a power adapter or charger may be necessary for trips that last longer than the computer’s battery life.
Finally, make sure to bring something to eat! Bring healthy snacks that are not too messy to eat, such as juice boxes, sandwiches, and fruits, are best. If your trip is longer than 4 hours or so, you will probably be stopping for restroom breaks and food – so don’t let the kids eat the entire trip, or you’re sure to have some car sickness on your hands (and NOBODY wants that!)
I hope all of our readers have a safe and happy spring break! We’ll be in the office working hard to bring you the April issue, so keep checking our blog and Facebook page for updates.