When you think of a vacation, you think nice beaches and nothing but relaxing. Sounds like an amazing thing, unless you are going with the whole family.
Things can get very stressful if you don’t plan and most especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Now, a vacation for you may be very different than a vacation for another family. Also, the age of your children will determine the “type” of vacation you take.
For example, if you have little ones, going on a 2 hour car ride to visit grandma for 3 days could be considered a vacation. For others, piling the teens into an RV and trucking it to Branson could be your vacation.
In addition to considering your children’s age, you also need to consider your mode of transportation for this vacation: Car ride, Bus, Train, RV, etc.
All in all, not matter the mode of transportation, the age of the children or the destination, family vacations are a pain in the head of household’s behind.
So, since I am a father of 4 with much knowledge, I have compiled a little advice on how to smooth out the kinks and service your next family vacation!
I want to start off with the tried and true methods that my own parents used on me.
When driving (no matter the vehicle), try playing “Road Trip Scavenger Hunt!” Weather you are looking for detailed exact objects or just simply letters of the alphabet, this can keep the kids entertained for miles as they absolutely scour the roads for the next item on their list.
Add a bit of information with each thing and it’s not only fun, but educational as well!
RULES: Give each child a list of items to watch for while driving. Check off each item when they find it. The list can be made up ahead of time and adjusted for the scenery. For a younger child who can’t read, you might draw a little picture of each item next to the word so they will know what to look for.
Click Here for an example (School Aged Children).
Click Here for another example (Toddler/Preschool).
Another favorite from childhood would be “Mad Libs”. Actually, “Mad Libs” is by far my personal favorite because I find them to be very hilarious!
What are Mad Libs?
“…is a phrasal template word game where one player prompts others for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story, before reading the – often comical or nonsensical – story aloud. The game is frequently played as a party game or to pass time.” – Wikipedia
Go to your location dollar store or supermarket and purchase a “Mad Libs” book. They have all kinds of styles, levels, and age appropriate ones. Choose the one that best fits your family.
Don’t want to purchase a book? No problem, write your own or print some from online. Just Google “Mad Libs Printable” and you’ll have several options.
“Dad, I”m bored!” they say? Well, surprise, little Timmy, give me a verb ending in “ing” and let’s get the party started!
Have some young one’s not too keen on looking for passing by treasures or thinking of an adjective?
Why not try a simple sticker/activity book? It may seem like you’re cheating by letting someone else come up with the activities, but when in a pinch, a nice little game of “stick the crown on the princess” will keep the kids happy and calm until your next pit stop and beyond!
“Slug Bug, No Tag Backs”,
“I spy with my little eye”
Do any of those sound familiar? They should. These are some of the most common games children play when on a road trip. Here’s how to play each:
Slug Bug or Punch Buggy:
“Punch buggy (also called punch bug, punch car, punch dub, piggy punch, slug bug, or beetle bug) is a car game generally played by children in which participants punch each other on the arm upon first sight of a Volkswagen Beetle while calling out “Punch buggy!” or “Slug bug!” in reference to the Beetle’s nickname, the Bug. The color of the Beetle and “No Tag Backs” is also stated.” – Wikipedia
“Game played with multiple people in a moving vehicles when traffic is present in which one searches for a vehicle with only one headlight shining. First to call “Padidle” and hit the roof of the vehicle wins, other remaining players will have some sort of consequence. Like a Truth or Dare or even something as silly as making an animal sound. You can also play for points instead of consequences. Or you can combine the two. It’s up to you and your family.” – Hullabalooloo
I spy is a guessing game where the Spy or It says “I spy with my little eye…” and players have to guess the object the Spy saw.” – View more detailed rules at Wikipedia.
Of course, you can always go the educational route. Help your little ones perfect their ABCs by having them find all the letters, in order. They can use signs, billboards, licenses plates, etc. Take it a step further and have them use the licenses plates to find all 50 States!
Like I said, these are great for younger children to learn and fun for older children to compete.
We haven’t even touched on video games, phones, or even portable DVD’s players yet! In today;s technology, there are tons of traveling games on tablets and phones, portable gaming systems, etc. Most children already have these devices, anyway (especially the older ones).
So, don’t rule out the “put in your headphones and listen to some music” option.
Do note, that this does kind of make a disconnect with the whole family road trip thing but for a flight or even a train, it would be my go-to option.
Pack up those tents. Load up those grills. Go on a 3 day drive.
The destination is only half the trip.
The fun part is always the journey.