Spring break is right around the corner: AAA's advice on traveling with children
Spring and summer breaks are wonderful times to hit the road with the kids. It can be a great adventure for the entire family, but has the potential to frazzle the nerves of even the most experienced parent or grandparent. The good news is with some planning and patience, road trips can be the adventure of a lifetime for your family. Knowing how to make the journey a smooth one will help. Here's some basic advice to help.
Plan ahead - Simple advice but critical for taking kids on the road. Know the route you are taking. Are there places to stop and let the kids explore? Remember, little ones need to get out and roam every hour or two. Plan stops that have the essentials - safe areas to explore or have a snack and most importantly restrooms!
Coordinate - Include the children in the planning. Let everyone give ideas for where to go either along the route or at your destination. Having a say in the adventure helps keep children engaged. They can even map the route or look up information about their part of the trip.
Take your time - The best thing you can take on the journey is your time and attention. Children love to explore and don't always understand or care about the time pressures of travel. Add time to the schedule for exploring new places, a quick game of freeze tag or just answering the multitude of questions about the new places they are seeing will help you keep your cool and enjoy the trip even more.
Pack thoughtfully - remember young children and even teens get bored easily in the car. Keep the activities coming! Have new games, toys or activities on hand and pull something new out as their attention lags. Having a few extra games, both for the whole car (I spy, or license plate bingo) and well as individual activities (books, puzzles, crayons, etc.) can keep everyone happy and the driver focused on the road. And while the very best activities for your children are the ones that include you, there is nothing wrong with using some child-friendly apps on a phone or tablet to help pass the time as well.
Be prepared for the weather - children who are dressed comfortably for the weather and terrain will be happier in new environments.
Start a travel journal - Get your kids to draw or list things they've seen and interesting foods they've tried. They could collect postcards from places you visit and write themselves a memory message on the back to remember the trip.
Whatever you do to make the trip a great experience remember to keep safety in mind as well. Everyone stays properly buckled up throughout the journey. That way, the family comes home with fond memories of the adventure, safe and sound.
About the Author
Dr. Georjeane L. Blumling earned her Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Public Administration at Old Dominion University in 2009. She is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia where she manages the public affairs/traffic safety department, oversees community outreach programs, and is a registered lobbyist in the Commonwealth of Virginia to advocate for traffic safety. Dr. Blumling is also a certified AAA Driver Improvement Instructor and serves on a variety of state level task forces.
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