It’s that time of year again. Time to load up the family and hit the road for the annual family vacation. If the idea of being in the car for hours on end listening to “are we there yet” over and over makes you less than thrilled, you aren’t alone. However, there are some easy things you can do to help beat boredom, cut down on stops and even save some money!
Wrap “Mile Marker Gifts”: As you travel down the road, set up mile marker surprises. For instance, once you’ve gone 100 miles, you can say “ONE HUNDRED” and pull out small gifts for your kids. These can be things such as travel games, coloring books and crayons or small toys – whatever you can find that fits within your budget. You can save money on wrapping paper by using aluminum foil – which you can then toss into a recycling bin on your trip.
Pack Snacks and Water: You can buy either pre-packaged items or make your own snack kits. This way, when you hear the inevitable “I’m hungry!” you can toss back a snack kit and keep on driving. (Keep in mind the “mess factor” before you decide to pack items). We stick with granola bars, fruit snacks, boxed fruits, dried fruits, etc. Libby’s also has Fruit Cups you can find in select supermarkets.
You’ll also want to limit beverage intake to cut down on bathroom stops. That’s simple by having water bottles for each child kept up front by mom and dad. You can pass it back, and allow them to take a drink. Then, they can pass it back up to you for safe keeping. The number of bottles and snacks you pack will vary based on your travel time – but we always take twice as much as we think we’ll need.
Have each child pack a travel bag: When you get the kids involved in packing things to do in the car, it can cut down on the complaints. We give each one of our children a small backpack and help them find books, crayons, toys, etc. Each one has their bag and can dig in and find something to do to help pass the hours.
Play the “Are We There Yet?” quarter game: If you know your children will ask this question more times than you can count, you can help them not want to ask. Go to your bank and get a roll of quarters ($10) or even put a few quarters into a baggie. Give one to each child right before you leave. Each time your child asks “Are we there yet?” he/she must pay you a quarter. Then, when you are back home from your vacation, you can allow them to spend the money they have left on whatever they want. A pretty good investment for some quick sanity. (Note: You wouldn’t want to give quarters to very small children so you can substitute with Monopoly money instead.)
Pack lunches: If you want to really save money, you can pack a picnic lunch for your trip. You can stop at a rest area or park and enjoy an inexpensive meal while letting your children run off that penned up energy (and maybe wear themselves out so they’ll fall asleep in the vehicle).
With a little pre-planning and creative thinking, you can make your roadtrip fun for everyone!