It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: a hundred miles to go and your kids are bored stiff and are fighting in the back seat. With a bit of preparation, you can make the drive to the next campsite more fun for your kids.
Of course, you can give them an iPad or put up a DVD; they will be quiet for several hours straight, but if that’s not your preference, think about the following:
- Make a list of some games like ‘I spy with my little eye…’, count the yellow/blue/red cars or make words of the letters of license plates you see around you.
- Before you leave, let them choose one small toy (new or something they already have) with which they can play on the road.
- Take some audio books or radio plays with you (very home and worldschooling!)
- If the drive is long, take a few small toys. It can be new toys but don’t go overboard. Your children probably have a lot of toys, even ones they don’t often play with, or they just have forgotten. Take those! Wrap them in a paper, put them together in a box or sack and give them one toy every hour or few hours (depending on how much they need to be entertained).
- Stop often. I know you probably just want to drive for hours straight, but for your kids, it’s better to let them run around. A lot of gas stations in Europe have a play garden. Or, if you go to small parking lots, it can be enough just to run around on the sidewalk. Let them jump a lot, up and down the sidewalk. You can even take a jumping rope with you if they are old enough. Let them jump, run, climb and play as much as possible in say 20 minutes.
Maintain their schedule and routines
Another advice: keep the eat and sleep schedule of your kids as normal as possible. It will give them a sense of structure. Also, stick to routines. If they normally brush their teeth before nappy time, then just go to a restroom and let them brush their teeth. Although it might sound inconvenient to go through all the trouble of putting your kids in pajamas after dinner, or set the table of your motorhome or the picnic table at the parking place, but in the end kids love structure. It takes way more time than just give them a sandwich in the back seat or let them sleep with their regular clothes on (although, there are lots of kids who just fall asleep when the engine starts running, I hope you are blessed with such sleepyheads!). But sticking to the routine will give them holding to the situation, even as you are traveling. And when your kids are calm, the journey will be better too. Everybody happy 😉
Prepare an easy meal
The first day on the road will be exhausting. Everyone is excited and full of energy, but as you will notice, traveling to an unfamiliar place means that everything takes more time than you anticipated. So when you’ve finally arrived at the campsite and installed your caravan or motorhome in the pitch, you are probably not in the mood to make dinner. Ensure that you have a prepared meal in the fridge. Heat it and it’s dinnertime! Or chop the veggies and the meat at home, so you only have to prepare it after you’ve arrived. It will save you so much negative energy, and you don’t have to deal with cranky, hungry kids as well.
If you are traveling from campsite to campsite, you can also prepare meals for travel days. It depends on how many hours you drive per day, but when you go for more than 4 hours in the afternoon, it’s so sweet to have your dinner already prepared.