School Vacation Road Trip Tips

So you're on a family road trip during the kid's vacation week. The highways are clogged, the kids are excited, and for some reason it feels so much more stressful than it does any other time of year. 

My girls helped me brainstorm a few things to make our family road trips feel special. These are ideas straight from kids of things they want to do.

Window clings: 
8 year old: Mom! Can we please get these? These are so much fun! Every kid should get two packs and then you can trade later!

They're everywhere - the grocery store, the big box stores, drugstores, dollar stores. There's a cling variety and a gel variety. They're cheap, they aren't messy, and the kids can make scenes on the windows. My six year old loves them because "we're not allowed to do stickers on the car windows but these are JUST LIKE STICKERS!"

Mom Note: If you have young kids who like to destroy things, don't do the gel ones unless you enjoy picking up little pieces of gel later. Also, if your kids are sticker kids, make sure that they know that these are SPECIAL stickers - regular stickers still don't belong on windows.

A New App:
6 year old: Can you get a new game for your devices?

Getting a brand new game that doesn't show up on the device until it's time to leave can make the first leg of the car ride amazingly quiet. For my kids, it's the My Town series, which are basically virtual dollhouses. A new My Town is $3, doesn't need wifi, and occupies them for a huge stretch of time.

Mom Note: Pick the time where you feel like the most whining might happen - an hour before a food stop, the first hour after a stop, when the sun goes down, and reveal the new app then. Obviously test it out before to make sure the kids can figure it out without adult help. I made this mistake once and was trying to trouble shoot from the driver's seat without being able to see.

An "advent" calendar:

8 year old: Mom! What about if there was an advent calendar JUST FOR THE CAR?

I've suggested road trip paper chains before, and this is a similar thing. Get a refillable advent calendar (and by now you may even find them discounted online!) with either games, treats, or activity suggestions, and use it to "count down" the drive. My eight year old and I brainstormed and came up with landmarks for every number on the calendar (1 is the driveway. 2 is getting on the highway. 3 is passing the giant mall. Etc, etc, all the way to Great Grandma's). Sometimes it's a Jolly Rancher, sometimes it's a little gift of crayons, sometimes it's a "time to turn on the mystery movie Mom downloaded!". We had so much fun filling it, and then the drive was something they looked forward to!

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