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5 Tips for Family Trips

Helpful tips when going on family car trips



Photograph: istockphoto.com/ ©HelpingHandPhotos

Car trips with the family don’t have to be torture, but we fall into the cycle anyway. As parents behind the wheel, we are driven by the schedule (“Gotta get to Aunt Martha’s for dinner by seven”). Somehow we forget how much we hated those boring trips we suffered as kids and then inflict the same purgatory on our unhappy pilgrims strapped in the back. They’re glued to their little screens—isn’t that enough?

Not if you want a happy trip, it’s not. If you are hauling young passengers, try these tips:

  • Avoid dining at the “service plazas.” Instead, bring along an ice chest full of good food. Get off the highway at a small town, find a playground, and let the kids run around for a while. The few extra minutes this costs you pays off later.

Note: If you do go to a “service plaza,” always remember that you never, ever will get a good cup of coffee at Cinnabon. Don’t be fooled by that name!

  • Bring a bag of surprises. After their game screen loses its luster, haul out a book, a car game, a song book, something. Remember comic books? They are still actually sold in bookstores and magazine shops. If your van is rocked by riots and resentments, you’d be shocked at how fast a comic book will bring total, attentive silence to the battleground.
  • Get a good audio book that they kids would enjoy. This might be the occasion to elevate their tastes a little. Maybe not Moby-Dick this time, but something adventurous with a little heft.
  • Consider the confiscation of all cell phones and electronic games. OK, maybe for an hour.
  • Mix in a little culture. Admit it, you’ve been a little slack about taking those kids to the museums back home. When you plot your trip, find some interesting historical site, geological wonder or art exhibition along the way. If you can’t find something, stop at the tourist-information houses located at the state lines.

After enduring the stultifying boredom of I-95 for four hours, the exhausted hooligans will be glad to have something to see. Then they’ll think about it for the next four hours down the road, and very likely it will be a memory they’ll carry forward in their mind’s hard drive.

Life is here to be lived.

 

 

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