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If you were to ask the other members of my family what their “must haves” are for road trips, you would hear a few different answers. My 10 year-old daughter would require lots and lots of drawing materials. My 6 year-old son would undoubtedly say he couldn’t live without a significant amount of candy. When I asked my husband that very question, he sort of dreamily looked off in the distance and muttered the words, “duct tape…”
See, we just got back from a long drive up to Quebec, so all the chatter is still fresh in his brain. Of course he doesn’t mean it. …I think? But if you ask me, there are just three things that every member of the family needs to bring on a road trip: Imagination, a positive attitude and patience.
Before you stop reading and wonder where my husband hid the duct tape, hear me out. Yes, every family will need snacks, drinks and some other time-consumers to help keep the trip short. But with imagination, a positive attitude, and patience you can make any long trip seem like a quick over-the-river-and-through-the-woods jaunt.
When packing fun items for your trip you want to be sure you bring small items that won’t take up too much space. That’s where your imagination needs to come in. Bring items that can be used for more than one purpose on your long drive. Let your children pick one item that can be used for multiple activities. Decks of cards, for example are wonderful time fillers. Old Maid, War, and Go Fish can be easily played in the back seat. But you can also use those cards as story starters to make up magical narratives about knights and kings. If you have the time, check out YouTube to learn some card tricks to teach the kids during your trip.
Those art supplies, candy and even the duct tape snuck in by your kids can also be used for more than just their main purpose. Paper can be folded into origami, candy can be used as counters for your card games, and there are just about a million uses for duct tape…purses, flowers, and even jewelry can be made out of it!
One of the biggest issues with long car rides is that there is usually a lack of enthusiasm. Let’s face it. Sitting still for more than 15 minutes at a time is difficult enough at any age. And sitting in the confined space of a car for much longer than that is even worse. So having a positive attitude about the trip may seem impossible. But it really isn’t.
You may have noticed that good moods are contagious. One smile can lead to another quite easily. When bringing kids on a long trip, remember that they do not need to know about any of the potentially bad things that can happen- flat tires, traffic, and broken air conditioners really aren’t the worst things that could happen in life. So do not treat them as if they are. A positive attitude by the adults will help keep the kids positive as well.
This is the biggest one. Before you even snap on your seat belt, agree with yourself that you will be patient throughout the trip. Discuss the need for patience with any other adults that will be traveling with you. Being in close quarters with your family for an extended period of time can certainly magnify the slight mishaps that occur. But do not let those small juice spills or whining toddlers make you lose your patience. Find a way to calm yourself for the remainder of the trip.
Of course, a short detour to that ice cream shop off the freeway is never a bad idea. But with imagination, a positive attitude and patience, your trip should fly by quickly!