How to Hold on to Your Sanity on Car Trips With Kids

For many people, the simple thought of having to travel with a kid is enough to give you nightmares. Plane tickets are very expensive for a traveling family, and this generally leaves the family car as the only method of travel. And with the economy doing its best to restart itself, many people have completely eliminated vacations from their budgets. This doesn’t need to happen to you. Some of my best childhood memories are from family road trips. Mexico and Canada, since they are so close, provide a close vacation that feels like it’s worlds away, and with the relatively new passport card, you and your family can go on a great adventure.

I remember, when I was younger and stuck in a car driving somewhere, my favorite activities were coloring books and craft sets. I had these big pieces of felt that were in tons of fun shapes. They had holes in them along the edges, and, with a shoe lace or a thick string, it made the best little girl sewing kit. I also had a huge baggie of markers and crayons along with an assortment of coloring books, and I would spend hours coloring pictures for everyone in the car. My little brother adored the big building blocks, and since they are easily disassembled as they are assembled, they kept him busy the whole way.

My mom would bring along these “worksheets” that had little puzzles on them. As we were driving, she would give me one that I would work really hard to complete, and I would give it back to her to “grade.” I always got A pluses, although I doubt I got everything right, but this fostered in me a love of learning. As I got older, she would give me whole books of puzzles that taught basic addition and reading, and I definitely felt so proud of myself after I completed a page. These trips really do present a great educational opportunity.

Technology has been making so much progress, and one of the best things I’ve seen that keeps children busy is the Leapfrog Leapster. It is a little hand-held electronic device that plays video games that are not only fun, but educational as well. Although it’s not as electronically advanced, you could get a tape recorder and record yourself reading your child’s favorite stories. You could even change the names to include him or her in her in the story! Don’t forget to include indications as to when to turn the page as well.

Passport cards are easy to obtain. All you need to do is visit your passport agency or apply online. Passport cards are so much cheaper than passports, and you get almost the same benefits. A passport card allows you to travel by land or sea instead of airplanes, and they let you travel to many places around the United States. Having these cards lets your family go on a great vacation without putting a hole in your wallet.