The holiday season is upon us, and with it often comes long family car rides to visit relatives. If you're dreading the long car trip with the kids this season, look no further. You can all make it there (and back) with your sanity and relationships intact. It just takes a little planning and creativity.
1. Make a list and check it twice so you don't forget anything.
2. Play road trip scavenger hunt. Create a list of 20 or more items you all think you'll see on the road and cross them off as you go.
3. Create a music playlist of all of your family's favorites.
4. Plan your stops. Nothing causes more stress in the car than trying to find a bathroom or place to eat.
5. Pack snacks and water bottles, because someone will eventually become famished.
6. Bring books.
7. Pack activities for little ones like crayons and coloring books.
8. Check your car's oil and tires to ensure a safe and smooth ride.
9. Plan your route and give a map of the highlighted route to each child.
10. Let each child bring one special item.
11. Leave early in the morning or right after breakfast to ensure children are either asleep or at least not hungry.
12. Pack activity books for older children that include word jumbles, crosswords, word finds, and Sudoku.
13. Make a new twist on an old game such as the license plate game. Pack a bag of state quarters and give each quarter to the child who spots that state's plate.
14. Be ready for a mess with a make-shift garbage pail, tissues, and wipes.
15. Pack a portable potty in the back in case of bathroom emergencies with the youngest kids.
16. Don't forget change for any tollbooths you may encounter.
17. Make sure your cell phone is charged, or you have your car charger in case of an emergency.
18. Pack an emergency roadside kit with orange cones, spare tire, flashlights, jumper cables, and blankets.
19. Bring extra bottles of any medications you or your family needs.
20. Update your GPS.
21. Give your kids a job such as navigator or highway exit spotter.
22. Plan a stop at a McDonald's with a playground, or a rest area with a lot of green space so the kids can burn off some energy.
23. Learn about the towns you are driving through and give your kids a brief history lesson on the way through.
24. If you plan to leave early, pack the car the night before.
25. Make sure anything you'll need while driving is easily accessible.
26. Know the rules of the road, especially if traveling to a different state. Know the cell phone rules, and the safe driving rules such as headlights on when it's raining. It will save you from being pulled over which saves you time and money.
27. Stick to your schedule to arrive on time and happy.
28. Schedule your departure, stops, and routes in order to avoid rush hour traffic around major cities.
29. Get the Adventure in a Box Road Trippin' Kit.
30. Check out the library before you go for new books and videos.
31. Fill up on gas before you leave familiar ground.
32. Pack lap desks perfect for playing on or snacking on.
33. Minimize restaurant stops to save time and money. Make sandwiches instead.
34. If the weather is cold, pack hats, gloves, and extra warm clothes in case the car breaks down.
35. Say yes to technology with hand-held games, mp3 players, and DVD players. By the second or third hour of your trip, you'll be glad you did. Also, make sure each device has headphones so you aren't subjected to the noise.
36. Pack all chargers for all devices so they are ready to go for the trip home.
Now, get out on the road and have fun! Just be ready to sing or listen to one of those annoying, repetitive rounds of Bear-Went-Over-the-Mountain songs. Chances are pretty good it will happen.