The great trip you had planned just turned sour because the kids are fighting and the baby is crying! Don’t panic just yet; there are ways to make even the longest road trip fun for everyone.
If it’s true that not all family members have the same taste in music, it’s also true that you can make a few playlists of your own and include a variety of songs. That way, everyone will enjoy the music at one point or another.
There are many karaoke CDs on the market, and they're a great to make everybody sing along. Make sure to have the printed lyrics for the older kids! Larger music stores will even have karaoke CDs with the most popular children’s songs. You can even find free karaoke music videos on Youtube!
Have you ever heard of the American television show Don’t forget the lyrics? The concept is simple: you stop a song in the middle and try to keep singing the lyrics. It’s an easy game to play in the car when someone is sitting in the front and can turn the volume up or down. However, we highly advise against this if the driver is the only person in the front of the car!
Obviously, if everybody’s tastes are extreme opposite, we suggest having individual iPods! The idea here is not to create a cacophonic environment or have people fighting over what music to play!
Reading in the car is not recommended for everybody since some people get motion sickness. If that's the case for you or your children, why not turn to audio books? Most libraries have a great variety of them. This way, you can listen to the story and flip the pages to look at the images.
If you're talented and have a little spare time, why not read and record your children’s favourite stories yourself? Basic equipment is necessary, but your children will be amazed to hear you read the story! These tapings will be useful in other situations, like at bedtime or in a waiting room.
A great way to keep the fun going is to invent the rest of the story! What happened to Snow White after her wedding to the prince? Everyone takes turns adding to the story and you will now know what adventures Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh and Superman have gone through. You may be impressed by your children’s bursting imagination!
There are many car games that can involve everyone in the car.
Observation: You use the landscape and scenery to throw observation challenges. The best is to prepare a sheet with suggestions of things to find beforehand and adapt it to your road trip. Start from the game-books that ask you to find certain things in the environment. If you plan on driving through the countryside, you may want to find specific animals (dogs, cows, horses, birds, etc.); on the highway, look for other cars (colours, shapes, etc.); in town, look for road signs, posters or addresses.
Themed card games: Shuffle and divide the cards between each person in the car. Once you’ve spotted outside what’s on your card, flip to the next one. The first one to finish their pack of cards wins!
I’m going on vacation and I’ll put in my suitcase...: this funny game tests your memory and your imagination! Everyone must repeat what has been said and then add their own object at the end of the list. The first rounds are easy, but when the list becomes longer, laughs are guaranteed.
Yes or no: Classics never fail! It’s a considerable challenge not to answer a question by ‘yes’ or ‘no’! Plan a few practice rounds to make sure that everyone understands the rules. We promise you’ll have your brain working hard!
Guess who I am? : Everyone must think of somebody and has to give clues to help the others guess who they are. You can create categories and limit the amount of clues given to make the game harder!
Letters and numbers: Look for a specific number or letter in the environment and go through the entire alphabet!
Magnets: Bring a metal cookie plate and some magnets (numbers, suns, figurines that can be dressed by overlapping pieces of clothing, etc.). Kids will have fun and will position the magnets as they please on the cookie plate. Nothing will fall on the floor and fun is guaranteed!
Window crayons: There are certain crayons you can use on windows. Even if they are washable, avoid this toy if you are a clean freak! If a little colour doesn’t bother you too much, you will have masterpieces upon arriving at your destination!
Crayons and paper: By using a binder or platter to create a large and solid surface, it is possible to draw in the car. By placing a bag on the back of the front seat, the little fingers will be able to grab and put back crayons as they please without dropping them on the floor.
If you have a little budget, plan on buying surprises at the dollar store! Avoid little toys that are easily lost or that can be swallowed by younger kids. Keep the surprise bag with you and take out a little surprise from time to time. A great way to entertain them is to tell them to be nice, otherwise they won't get a surprise.!
Even if some are against this type of entertainment, others can’t live without the portable DVD player that allows children to watch movies in the car. When the trip is long and the kids can't sit still for too long, it's an interesting solution to help them stay calm for an hour or two.
A great way to go about road trips is to plan many breaks (about one every hour) to move around and get some fresh air! A bathroom break and a drink later, you will all be ready to get back on the road... until the next stop!
Motion sickness is often the result of a sensory conflict between your eyesight and inner ear. When children are young and their heads don’t go higher than the seat in front of them, their eyes see a fixed and motionless object but their inner ear takes note of all movements like turning and speeding after a stop sign. This is also the reason why reading in the car can cause nausea. The contradicting information given to the brain creates uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue, paleness, nausea and even vomiting.
If your child suffers from motion sickness, you will really benefit from using a booster seat allowing your child to see the surrounding environment and moving objects around him. Obviously, don’t try to get his attention by making him watch a movie, read a book or draw. Try to avoid strong perfumes in the car and abrupt accelerations.
Children aged 3 to 12 years old are more prone to motion sickness. The older they get, the less symptoms they will get. Don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor; he could give you advice on how to prevent the motion sickness symptoms.