On the Road Again

By Vanessa Dolberry

“Are we there yet?” If you have a road trip planned for the summer months, you will hear that question a time or two…or twenty. With the plethora of travel electronics these days, we don’t have to rely on playing the license plate game or I Spy to pass the time. While it may be a relief that we don’t have it as hard as our parents did, we mostly don’t want our kids glued to a screen for 8 hours at a time. With a little preparation, we can make car trips a pleasure and still keep screen time to a minimum.

Create an age-appropriate car kit for your child or children using the following guidelines.

Baby Car Kit (ages 0-3)

  • Wipes
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Trash bags
  • Picture books
  • Small magnetic drawing board
  • Toy mirror
  • Rattles
  • Teething toys
  • Bib
  • Blanket
  • Extra set of clothes
  • Diaper cream
  • Formula
  • Pacifier
  • Small toys such as cars or stuffed animals

Kid Car Kit (ages 4-7)

  • Card games
  • Book
  • Magnetic drawing board
  • Small can of play-dough
  • Sticker book
  • Activity book
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Silly putty
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Markers (Avoid crayons because they melt.)
  • Puzzles
  • Dry erase board and marker
  • Travel pillow or stuffed animal
  • Window clings
  • Magnetic letters
  • Small toys (Avoid toys with lots of little pieces.)

Tween Car Kit (8-12)

  • Word search or crossword puzzle
  • New book
  • Wikki Stix®
  • Journal
  • Madlibs®
  • Headphones
  • Embroidery floss for bracelets
  • Magnetic toys or games
  • Tangram games
  • Deck of cards
  • Play foam
  • Yarn and crochet hook
  • Travel edition of your favorite game
  • Small LEGO® set
  • Travel pillow
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Map with route highlighted
  • Audiobook

It’s always a good idea to keep a small stocked first aid kit in the car for any boo-boos or mishaps. Use a small zippered pouch to hold these items.

First Aid Kit

  • Band-Aids®
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Pain reliever
  • Benadryl®
  • Childrens Tylenol®
  • Dramamine®

Here are some other items to have readily available in your vehicle at all times:

  • Garbage bag
  • Paper towels and/or wipes
  • Flashlight
  • Bottles of water
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cell phone charger
  • Jumper cables

More pro tips:

• For kit storage, use a divided cosmetics bag , a plastic divided tote with handle or Individual bags or boxes. You could also use a notebook with pencil bags attached in the rings to hold all items for activities.

• Bring a cookie sheet. You can use it as a food tray for snack time, as a great hard surface for coloring or writing or for fun with magnets.

• Use a timer to help your child know when to expect lunch, a bathroom break, or arrival to your destination.

• For multiple children, pack a separate bag for each child with some personal belongings and toys to keep fighting to a minimum. You can keep shared items stored in another container and divvy out as needed.

• Instead of giving a child who bores easily a bag full of 10 activities, sort 1-2 activities into 5 smaller bags. Give them one bag at a time to keep their attention.

Vanessa Dolberry lives outside Nashville, Tenn., with her husband and three kids.

This article first appeared in the June 2018 issue of ParentLife.

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