Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Traveling with Kids Part 2 - Traveling "Have Tos"

In Part One of our series (if you missed it click here) we talked about packing and getting ready for our journey. Packing isn't fun, though! I'm ready for the trip to begin. Let's jump in the car and get going!

The Car Ride

Some suggestions to take into consideration before you even start. This might should have been mentioned in yesterday's post but, hey, all of my posts this week kind of dovetail together anyway!
  • We have a seating arrangement and everyone knows where they are going to sit ahead of time. This really helps with our aspy, Joshua. He likes to know what is going on ahead of time and We know that Joshua and Jacob cannot sit next to each other. For that matter, neither can Joshua and John Allen! Joshua is just his own person. He gets the back seat while John Allen and Jacob get the bucket seats behind the driver/passenger. It's a good thing that Jacob adores his oldest brother. Yes, we really need to work on sibling relationships, but that's for another post. Of course if Grandma or Aunt Lois is traveling with us then the whole seating arrangement changes but, again, that's a post for another time.
  • Make sure that each child has his space! He needs to know his boundaries. They need to know where they put there drink. They need to have space to put their individual toy bag and the goodies that we talked about yesterday.
  • Each boy also needs a pillow and perhaps a blanket available to them. Our boys like to sleep in the car. Yes, we are blessed in that area, they take after dear old Dad.
  • Is there a child that needs tissues? Is known for his spills? Tends to create a lot of trash? Have the appropriate item close at hand.
Thinking of the little things ahead of time make for a more peaceful trip.


Yesterday we bought all of our fun stuff for the reward/goodybags. The Tinkel family has worked the reward/goody bag system in several ways - sometimes several ways in the same trip. Here's some suggestions based on how we've done it in the past:

  • At select intervals throughout the trip - say every hour or every 100 miles - we reward them with something from the goodybag.
  • If things are getting hairy with attitudes like "he's in my space" or "he's breathing my air" then we might use it as a reward system. "If you all can get along for the next hour (or whatever) then we will give you something from the goodybag." I know. Some folks think this type of thing is bribing your children. Maybe it is, but it works for us.
  • We also sometimes let this work to our benefit. For example, if the natives are getting hungry, then the next reward will be a snack. Why have a separate reward and snack? Conquer two birds with one stone!
  • Sometimes the rewards can be a joint reward. Did one of their favorite movies just come out on DVD? Make the DVD a joint reward and pop it into the DVD player. Then you won't have to worry about another reward for an hour and a half or more!
  • A variations that we have used is to buy souvenirs along the way and use them as rewards. Did the boys see some arrowheads at that last place that they really would like to have? Sneak back in and buy them each one and use it as a reward. Or, buy something unique at a Cracker Barrel. The rewards don't all have to be bought ahead of time. Buy some along the way.
  • Another variation that I have read about but never used is to individualize each child's goodybag. Buy different things for each child depending on their likes (as I mentioned yesterday, this probably wouldn't work of our crew).
  • I've even read about them numbering the gifts. The first gift may be a coloring book with crayons. Then, the next gift may be stickers to add to it. The third gift might be colored pencils to add to the fun.
Be creative with it. Again, you know your children.

Boxerwood Gardens

We've also turned lunch time into an art. We try to save money on a trip by packing our own lunch and finding fun places to eat lunch. Here's how we do it.
  • One of our potty breaks is always at the usual Welcome Center that appears when you cross state lines. We pick up several (sometimes to Sarah's chagrin, all) of the brochures for the upcoming towns. Especially for the towns that we think we might hit around lunch time.
  • While we travel, we check out the brochures for interesting/cheap places to stop to eat lunch. Sometimes, if we can't find anything amongst our brochures we just pull of and ask.
  • We've eaten at some fun places. Like the great park called Boxerwood Gardens in Virginia or that neat park that was off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'll talk about both of those later this week, but, make sure there is plenty of room for your kids to run.
  • If all else fails, pick a rest area and pull off. Most of them have picnic tables, and many of them are very interesting places as well. And, they come with a restroom! That's always an essential.
Our theory is - why spend a lot of money when you can have a fun/memorable lunch without a lot of cost?


Finally, here are a few miscellaneous suggestions.
  • Don't forget the DVD's that we talked about yesterday. Again make sure that you choose wisely. Make it fun for all ages.
  • Books on tape are also wonderful! We still laugh about one memorable trip where we listened to Hank the Cowdog the whole way. On another trek I read a whole book to the boys. Of course mom and grandma shared the driving.
  • Maps are fun as well as educational. We have bought several small pocket atlases for our kids at various times. John Allen loves following along and keeping track of where we are and where we're going.
  • Travel games are also a hit with us. We have gone through several of those cardboard travel bingo games where you slide the window closed when you spot a certain object. They can be purchased very little to nothing at most truck stops.
  • Another hit with the Tinkel family (from when I was a boy) is the license plate game. Each person guesses how many license plates from different states that you think we'll spot along the way. Whenever a new state is spotted the person shouts it out and Mom (or Dad) adds it to the list. It's a lot of fun when someone actually sees an unusual one. I still remember when we spotted a car with Hawaii (yes I said Hawaii!) plates and, another time, one from Alaska! We've even seen license plates from European countries (must be nice, huh?)!
  • Word games are also popular! You all know the usuals, but usually can't think of them when we need them. Like the memory word games where you start out with a and go through the alphabet saying what you are going to bring on the trip. The first person says "I'm going to Pennsylvania and I'm going to bring an apple." Then the next person continues "I'm going to Pennsylvania and I'm going to bring an apple and a baseball bat." It goes on and on until you get to z or you all just can't remember anymore. Think of your favorite word games and have fun!
It takes a little planning, but traveling in the car with kids can actually be fun. If you work at it you might actually be able to conquer the Are We There Yets and the How Much Farthers!

Well, I hope that this gives you some ideas for your next trip. Tomorrow we'll talk about "Stopping for the Night!". Yes, you can even turn that into an art! We'll cover everything from restaurants to hotels so don't forget to check back in!

Don't forget that there are over 65 other bloggers that are taking part in this big "Five days of..." blog hop. Click on the banner below and check out all of the fun topics. Happy Traveling!



  1. Thanks for the ideas! I need to bookmark your posts.

  2. We play I am going on a trip as a campfire game. I have never thought of playing it in the car. How fun. Thanks!