June 29th, 2011

Are We There Yet?

“Hey, hey, easy kids. Everybody in the car. Boat leaves in two minutes… or perhaps you don’t want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?”-Clark Griswold (National Lampoon’s Vacation)

When you heard the words FAMILY ROAD TRIP, it’s easy to conjure up images of “adventure” and “togetherness.” Whether or not these are positive images, though, is often in the eye of the beholder!

To help give this summer’s “adventure” and “togetherness” a positive spin, we’ve pulled together a few of our favorite tips for car travel with kids. Here goes:

The more the better. Try packing a travel case for each child full of age appropriate items—crayons or markers, pads of paper, travel pillows, small games and toys, maps that they can follow along, and a variety of snacks. Consider including a travel allowance—a small amount of money that they can spend at gift stores and tourist traps along the way (so they don’t have to beg you for it!). Each morning of the trip, add something new to the kit so they have something to look forward to. We also like the idea of including a blank US map to use for a license plate game: color in the states as you see the different plates on your journey.

Before you leave on your trip, create a list of “car games” for the road. Write them on small pieces of paper and put them in an envelope. When you need something to do, have someone pick a game, blindly, from the envelope—to eliminate battles over which game to play at any given time. Some game ideas include 20 Questions, I Spy!, the Alphabet Game (finding each letter of the alphabet on road signs), Grandma’s Going on a Trip, and Who Am I?

Time in the car is a great time to teach little lessons in geography, geology, history and more. Put down the electronic devices for a bit and talk about each new state you enter and what’s important about it. Talk about the corn or wheat you see growing in the farms along the way, and where it will go—or about how and when the roads or buildings you see were built. The world is a pretty interesting place in the eyes of a kid.

Spontaneity is great fun on road trips. Stopping to see the great ball of string, or at a diner that looks particularly fun. But make sure you have the big stuff planned—like where to stay at night. Don’t try to “drive as far as you can and then find a hotel.” It’s not safe, and it can put undo stress on the whole family. Plan ahead, and bring a folder with confirmation letters and directions to each destination.

Nothing ever goes exactly as planned, but you can do your best to be prepared. Pack the car with extra rags and wipes, a first-aid kit, acetaminophen or other pain reliever, a flashlight, and always have a charged cell phone. Make sure your car inspection is up-to-date and that you have an emergency roadside service plan. If you don’t want to pay an ongoing annual fee for this, consider signing up for Allstate’s Good Hands(sm) Roadside Service. With this service, you’ll get access to the Allstate 24/7 Nationwide Roadside network, with no annual fee. In fact, you never pay a time unless you use it. And it’s open to everyone, not just Allstate customers. To sign up, use the widget below—and be sure to share with your friends.

Happy travels!

Note: Momicillin was compensated by Allstate for this promotion, but the opinions and ideas in the post are our own.

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