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Traveling with children
July 25, 2011
by Jenni Sebora

Summer is the time for some family travels. Whether it be a longer destination or trips to the lake, being in close quarters with family members in a vehicle can be the source of memories, and stress as well.

It is important when traveling with children to plan ahead. Know your route and share your traveling route with your children, including some landmarks, so your children can anticipate these sights and look for them along the way.

Look at a map with your children prior to the trip, to allow them knowledge of the route. Allow for some stopping points along the way to burn off energy and maybe get a bite to eat. This breaks the traveling distance up, so it does not seem so overwhelming.

If traveling by vehicle for extended hours, think about renting a van that provides more space and puts less miles on your own vehicle.

Pack ahead. Allow your children to be part of this process. Older children may pack their own bags. Create a checklist with them prior to the trip, which will aid in their packing process so they don’t forget something necessary or pack too much. I always remind my children and myself that all the stuff you bring along has to be unpacked when you get home.

My 11-year-old and 14-year-old pack their own luggage with checklist in hand for camp and family trips so they know exactly what they have. Our 7-year-old and I pack her bag together so she also feels part of the process and knows what is packed in her own roll-along luggage.

This is the time that a DVD player can serve as good entertainment. On longer car trips, we allow our children to choose a new movie to purchase for the trip. Our children are also allowed to choose a new book or magazine to read or and some treat that each one enjoys.

These purchases and individual choices provide anticipated entertainment and things to look forward to while spending extended time in the vehicle. Who doesn’t look forward to delving into a new book or magazine or viewing a new movie?

Hand wipes, a basic first aid kit and flashlight are also essentials for the trip. Books on compact disc, music, blankets, small pillows, sticker books for younger children, Mad Libs, small dry erase boards with dry erase markers, crossword puzzles, word finds, a new box of crayons or markers, and drawing tablet are good sources of entertainment and comfort for a longer trip.

Of course, iPods, portable game systems, and all those other devices are car-riding entertainers. Rules of usage amount could be modified for those long car travels. Our family enjoys playing Family Feud together on our daughter’s iPod.

I always look forward to car travels with my family. I have my family together in one place at one time headed to the same place. Usually, we share some stories and rekindle old memories of past vacations. To me, that’s worth traveling in the car for an extended time.