We do a fair bit of traveling in the summer. Having one set for grandparents in Wisconsin and the other set in Texas has inspired quite a few road trips. When my older kids were small we didn't even have a DVD player in the car (OMG!), so I had a few tricks to keep them happy.
1. Pack Snacks and Take Stops Along the Way
I always pack lots of healthy (and a few not so healthy) snacks like carrot sticks, cut up fruit, pretzels, homemade trail mix or cookies. Those new applesauce pouches are wonderful too. If your child is old enough, a sucker might be just the thing to get in a few more miles before total melt down.
We always leave plenty of time to stop for meals and give the kids a chance to run around a bit. Of course, potty stops are plentiful as well.
2. Pack a Surprise
Everyone loves a present! I like to wrap new toys (usually dollar store finds) and give one to each child at random intervals as we travel. It gives the kids something to look forward to when they know another toy is coming.
Some of our favorite travel toys include books, magnetic boards, color wonder markers/paper, magnetic writing board, and small dolls. As the kids get older, travel games are fun too.
3. Pack the Comfort Items
Remember to bring favorite blankets, toys, an extra pacifier (god forbid you are in the middle of Iowa and can't find the pacifier!), sippy cups, or anything else your child depends on for comfort.
4. Pack the Electronics
We love to rent movies from Red Box for DVDs since they can easily be returned to any Red Box along the way. There are always some "traditional" DVDs we bring from our collection that we only watch when we travel; my favorite is, "I Love Lucy". In the age of iPads, iPods, Kindles and DS players the options are endless - you can take an entire media collection with you! Just don't forget to bring chargers and car adapters!
5. Pack the Kids!
Some families try traveling at night so their children can sleep; we find that this makes us too tired and is not the safest way to travel. Instead, we try to leave early in the morning. Sometimes I even dress the kids in comfy travel clothes the night before to avoid an extra chore in the morning. I am always sure to have everything laid out and ready to go to avoid any last minute confusion or forgotten items.
Once everyone is in the car there is nothing left to do but sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
Charity - ParentSavvy Parent Expert