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How to Survive Traveling with Your Kids

With the holiday season fast approaching, many families are preparing to pack up the minivan or board a plane to visit with family and friends. As someone who has made many 6+ hour drives with my kids over the years, I’ve come up with a few things that will make your travel experience a little bit easier. Hopefully.

The key, in my experience, is to keep them well fed and entertained. Which both seem pretty obvious. Additionally, some friendly competition always livens the mood and keeps things interesting. Keeping things interesting keeps them from getting bored and complaining. And asking “Are we there yet?” every 37 seconds.

Check out my suggestions after the jump.

And then tell me, what do you do to keep your kids entertained and happy while you’re traveling?

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  • Snacks 1 of 14
    Snacks
    This is, by far, my number one MUST-HAVE for a trip with my kids. I always pack a cooler with portable snacks like Gogurt, string cheese, grapes and juices and water. I also bring along baggies of goldfish crackers, trail mix or anything else that I think will keep my kids happy and quiet for a while.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • License Plate Games 2 of 14
    License Plate Games
    There are several ways to go with this, depending on the age of your kids. For younger kids, you can have them look for different colors and designs. Older kids can identify the letters on the plate and come up with funny sayings where each word starts with the letters from the plate. So ATM898P could be "Alligators toast marshmallows perfectly." Identifying the different states and keeping "score" of who finds the most, or trying to find all 50 states is another way to keep the kids occupied...and learning!
  • Music 3 of 14
    Music
    When we don't have a movie playing, we have the music blasting. My kids have very different tastes in music, so I like to put together a road trip playlist that mixes each of their favorites with some of mine and my husbands. It's a great way to keep everyone involved. Nothing is as fun as a family sing-along while driving down the road. Just be sure to choose your songs carefully...you never know what scandalous lyrics your kids will sing for Grandma when you get to her house.
  • BumbleBee 4 of 14
    BumbleBee
    This is one of our favorite games. Traditionally called the "Yellow Car Game" it has been adapted to account for the boys love for Transformers. They compete to see who can yell "BUMBLEBEE!" first, whenever we see a yellow car.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Legos 5 of 14
    Legos
    Throw some legos into a bin and your child can keep himself busy with his favorite at-home activity! The downside is that they could end up all over the floor of your car. So plan accordingly.
  • Fruit Loops Necklaces 6 of 14
    Fruit Loops Necklaces
    Someone suggested this to a friend before a recent road trip. Give the kids a container of fruit loops and some string and let them string a necklace. They get to work on their hand-eye coordination, it keeps them busy and also provides a small snack. The post-sugar-high nap is an added bonus!
  • PunchBuggy 7 of 14
    PunchBuggy
    An oldie but a goodie. Traditionally this game is played by yelling "Punch Buggy (insert color here)" and then punching your seat mate when a Volkswagon Beetle is spotted. We have nixed the punching, to reduce the tears and out of necessity, since they can't reach each other anymore, and now simply yell "Punch Buggy!" when we see a Bug. This game gets pretty competitive in our family.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • I Spy 8 of 14
    I Spy
    A fun game for the kids to play together. One child finds something within eyesight and gives clues until the other child (or parent) figures out what they are looking at. Can be played with items outside the car or with items inside the car. For younger kids, check out these adorable handheld I Spy games on Etsy
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Coloring Books 9 of 14
    Coloring Books
    I like to buy a few new coloring books, one for each kid, before each trip. They each get a box of crayons and can color away to their little hearts content. Easy and cheap! As a bonus, they can give their favorite pages to the grandparents or aunts and uncles when you reach your destination.
  • Cows 10 of 14
    Cows
    This might just be me, but as a kid I was *obsessed* with finding cows on the side of the road. To make it a game, each person gets a "side" of the car and whoever counts the most cows (or sheep, pigs, horses, etc) wins that round. Additionally, whoever spots them first and yells "Cow Alert!" gets extra points.
  • Crayola Color Wonder Lap Desk 11 of 14
    Crayola Color Wonder Lap Desk
    When crayons and coloring books just won't cut it, it's time to break out the big guns. The great part about Color Wonders sets is that they don't have to worry about ink getting on your car interior. The pens only work on the specially formulated paper! Crayola Website
  • Movies 12 of 14
    Movies
    A built-in or portable DVD player is a GREAT way to keep kids entertained on long trips. I always have a few of their favorites on hand, but I also like to add a thing or two that they haven't seen to the list. Sometimes something new will keep their interest for a longer period of time. Perhaps try to find one of these classic titles!
  • Books 13 of 14
    Books
    Stop at the library and pick up some books for the kids to look at while you're driving. Books on tape are also a great option.
  • iPad or Tablet 14 of 14
    iPad or Tablet
    You can always download some new games to your iPad for the kids to play during the drive. If they've been bugging you for something in particular, hold off on buying it and surprise them with it in the car or on the plane. They'll be thrilled and chances are good that it will keep them occupied for a long time!
    Photo Credit: Flickr

Top Photo Credit: Flickr

Keep your tot on schedule with these holiday travel tips!

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