ve added a few more do's and don't's at the end for you.
"Are we there yet"? "I'm hungry". "Mom, he's on my side........Brings back memories I bet for lots of us. Make travel easier for all. Make your child his or her "special", very own trip tick. You can keep them busy, make them feel special, and the time spent in the car will be more pleasant for all. PLUS, the bonus is your kids will actually learn something while on vacation.
3 ring notebook
colored pencils (not crayons they melt, not markers they're too messy)
Plain White Paper for drawing
Lined paper for writing
Divide by area, or state depending on the age of the child and where you're going AND how long you'll be in the car.
Make a few math problems that involve the kids keeping track of monies spent for gas, food, miles traveled, ...let them figure out how many miles per gallon you're getting. Things like how far it is from point A to point B.
Make hidden word puzzles about vacation, the things you're going to do and see along the way.......like the names of cities you'll travel through, the capitals of the states you'll be in, the state bird.
Have pictures to color that are appropriate....like the state bird. See if they can find them or the state flower as they look out the window.
Make a fact sheet about what's interesting in that area, like what famous person came from there, or what sports teams are in that city (if you've got a sports minded kid). Always cool is to find something the kids can identify with, like a child about their age who famous for something from the area. Think Shirley Temple, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Johnny Shilo and the like.
Encourage them to write a travel journal (we left the house at 7 am, and I was the first to see a Cardinal, the state bird of Ohio...), tie it all in together. If your child's a reader, try to find a book appropriate for the area so they'll have something they can tell you. **For helpful tips on how to encourage them to journal, PLEASE visit my SIL's blog. She has all kinds of writing exercises, some can even be verbal depending on the age of the child.
As you travel ask them what you're going to see next, how far it is to the next stop etc. Make them a part of it.
I did this every year, and after the first year; my daughter could hardly wait to get in the car and see what I'd put together for her. DON'T LET THEM SEE THEIR TRIP TICK BEFORE GETTING IN THE CAR. KEEP IT A SURPRISE.
Turn off the DVD player, car time is wonderful family time...use it. They can watch TV and DVD's anytime; make vacation special--make it different.
And think about how far you're going, how old the children are. Make sure they get a good nights sleep before you start out. Don't count on them falling asleep on the plane or in the car. Generally, even young children know something is different, something special is going on and they don't want to miss it. So, they stay awake; then you have an already tired grumpy child who makes everyone involved not enjoy themselves. Be respectful of their need to rest, to use the bathroom. Never ask them if they have to go. Simply stop and everyone use the bathroom (if you're in the car). Ask any adult how many times they've asked a child who says no. They don't use facilities when they exist and you get rollin again then they urgently have to go. If you're flying go to the bathroom right before boarding so you don't need to mess with it on the plane. Limit what they drink. It stands to reason if you give a child a biggy size drink they're going to need to use the bathroom.
If you're going to be in the car for an extended time, take breaks. Pull off and let the kids run and swing at say a school yard. Prepare the kids ahead of time. Let them know how long they'll be in the car. Let them know they need to get along. Don't throw surprises at them. Prepared children fare far better and when they do well, so will you.
Next post will address some specific issues when flying with children in more detail. Stay tuned.
Wanted to add this comment from my daughter, when parts of this post were published previously.
As the person for whom the binders were made ... loved it. Wish more parents did this rather than plugging their children in and letting them tune out - is it a wonder that so many children are unable to communicate with adults?!
I'd like to add, my daughter is now a school teacher.