This trip means 8 hours in the car - BOTH WAYS! As many of you know, traveling with young kids can be challenging at times. I must say, however, that our kids have always been pretty good travelers, whether it be car or airplane. That being said, ever since we mentioned this trip, my 4 year old has been lamenting about the long trip (this will be our second California trip this summer).
A while back I came across this awesome post from Kara's Creative Place with some great ideas for activities to keep the kids busy on a long trip. I loved her use of envelopes and giving them out throughout the trip. I took this idea and ran with it! Here are some of the activities that I will use to keep my kids happy on our trip - note, some will be saved for the return trip and some will be used going both ways!
I-SPY BAGS - I scoured the house the other day and come up with a bunch of small trinkets to put inside our very own I-Spy bags. I laid all the trinkets out on a white piece of paper and took a photo before I put them in so the kids know what to look for! One lesson I learned when making these - only fill the bag about 1/2 full with the filler as it spilled out ALL OVER when I tried to sew the final edge closed.
CRAFTS - I picked up a couple of simple craft kits for the kids to do in the car. These are readily available at the craft stores and can even be found at Target and Walmart. For the bracelets, I bought a bag of foam slap bracelets and simply grabbed some stickers that the kids can use to decorate them with. We'll do one on the way there and one on our return trip.
Travel Bingo - Growing up I remember playing travel bingo. MomsMinivan has some great free printables for this activity. The only trouble for us is that the trip from Arizona to California is somewhat desolate and the types of things we see (cactus, mountains, etc.) are very different than the trees, farms, animals and tractors that you see in other parts of the country. So, I whipped together my own bingo board - specific to our route. I simply used clip art to fill in the squares with things I knew we would see along the way.
I-Spy Bingo - Using the same idea as the travel bingo, I made an I-Spy Bingo card for each of the kids. This card has the kids looking for items that are a certain color or shape or starts with a certain letter. We play I-Spy in the car a lot (even in town) so this will be a fun twist to the game.
Paint with Water - This one may be a bit messy and we may decide to pass on this one until we get there but I loved these fun pages with the paint boxes at the bottom. We will use a small cup of water and Q-Tips to "paint" the picture. Make sure to have plenty of wipes available and a tray to contain the mess.
Coloring/Writing - My kids love to write stories and draw pictures so I simply picked up a couple of note books during the back to school sales. I love how the kids use their imaginations, however you could use coloring books for this portion of the trip too! I also picked up these fun polka-dot trays at the dollar store. The notebook fits in there perfectly so the trays will work great for lap desks. The wonderful part of the tray is that it has a lip all the way around so it helps to corral the crayons, pencils, etc. so they do not fall on the floor!
New Toys - Every trip we go on, I get the kids a knew small toy. I have saved happy meal toys or bought a small trinket or stuffy. They love getting something that they haven't played with before. For this trip, I found a couple of cars from Cars 2. I know, I have a boy and a girl, but my girl is currently obsessed with Finn McMissile and playing secret agent so I figured it was a great toy.
Movies/DVDS - I love our portable DVD player as we can use it both in the car and on our plane trips. I have the kids select 10 of their favorite movies and we put them in one of those small CD cases so we don't have to bring the whole case which are clumsy and take up a fair amount of space. We also bought a holder that spans between the two head rests and holds the DVD player. It is great and allows both kids to see the screen.
Books / Story Time - My kids love books and reading so of course, there would be books as part of the trip. I usually try to find a new book for each of them when we travel, although sometimes I just have them select from their overflowing book shelves. This trip I have 2 book activities. The first will be quiet reading time where they will get a new Disney book. The second activity will be story time. We eat entirely too much at Chick-Fil-A, but, that being said, they give out books in their kids meals and I love that about them. Recently we received several copies of Pinocchio (and we didn't turn them in for ice cream - another great thing about the Chick). I plan to read the story to the kids and have the kids follow along in their own copy of the book. Should be fun as they both usually want to hold the book!
School Time - I love the many workbooks and fun activity books that are available at the dollar store and sections of so many stores these days - and so do my kids. So, since school starts next week, these are a perfect tool to get the kids in the learning mode. I know the word-find isn't completely educational but my daughter loves them and it really has helped her spelling and vocabulary.
Wiki-Sticks - Those fun, waxy, bendable sticks can entertain for quite a while. The kids love to make jewelry and glasses out of them. I found these for $1 at Michael's! Love it.
Okay, I know that sounds like a ton of activities but we are talking 16 hours in the car! And Momma needs to do some blog planning as I am tired of posting as I go - I need a plan!
A couple final travel necessities:
Snacks - One cannot survive a trip without adequate treats and snacks. I have packed a bunch of travel friendly snacks as well as a cooler filled with fruit, Go-Gurt, cheese sticks, water, juice and soda.
Supplies - As a Mom, I never go on a trip without a few essentials. For me, that includes:
• Ziploc bags for everything from snacks to crayons to wet or stinky clothes (although I really hope we are getting past this last one now that we are 4.5 and 6).
• Wet Wipes for those sticky situations or to clean up spills.
• Hand Sanitizer for use before snacks and after bathroom stops.
• Flushable Wet Wipes are great when traveling and using public restrooms.
• Portable Potty (not pictured) - we purchased this great Folding Portable Potty years ago and keep it in the trunk. It is awesome for those emergency stops between rest areas. It uses Ziplocs so there is no mess. This has come in handy on more than one occasion on nearly every car trip!
Well, I hope you get a few ideas for your next trip and happy traveling!
California, here we come!!!
We will say hi to Walt and Mickey for you!
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