Hobbies with a Budget: How to beat road trip boredom

Published 9:37 am Monday, September 26, 2016

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 Our family loves to take road trips.  The most recent of our epic road trips tackled 11 states, seven days and 2,600 miles.   We ended the trip with lots of memories, hundreds of pictures, a few souvenirs and a joint feeling of satisfaction that not only did we survive another road trip, but we still like each other!  I call that a WIN!

Traveling with the family can be a great way to spend quality time together but it can also be stressful. Increase your chances of a fun, stress-free and safe vacation by following these simple tips:

• Beat boredom with books: When the kids were small we would listen to audio books like “Magic Treehouse,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “A to Z Mysteries” and even simple picture books like “Bear Snores On.”  Before going on our adventures we would hit up the local library and check out several audio books to help pass the miles.  Not only did this keep the kids from getting antsy, it also helped their listening skills.

Now that they are older, we have a Kindle reader for each of them.  They can now take an entire library of books with them that will carry them through the long road trip.

Play games: We’ve all played the alphabet game and games like “I Spy”, but there are other options as well.    Keep kids entertained with some great car games that make getting where you’re going half the fun. Magnetic board games, portable video games and classics such as the license plate game, will keep kids and parents actively engaged no matter how long the journey. 

Plan for germs and restroom breaks:  Think about how long it will be between breaks and don’t push the kids past what they can handle.  When the kids were babies, we would plan stops based around the best places for changing diapers, nursing or potty training moments. Now that they are older, we still plan to stop about every two hours for a simple stretch break. Since not all restrooms are cleaned as well as we would like, be prepared with hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray to kill germs that can be transferred to the surfaces in your car. To prepare for those inevitable spills and “oops” moments, keep paper towels or wet wipes handy.

Snack smart: It’s inevitable that you’re going to get hungry along the way.  Sure, you can stop at the closest fast food restaurant, but that’s not always the healthiest or frugal option.  Pack the van with drinks and snacks so you won’t get stuck in traffic with hungry kids and no place to stop. 

• Plan a variety of activities: When we travel, we try to plan destinations along the way that appeal to each member of the trip.  On our recent road trip, we visited a wide range of attractions. Remember that the trip is not just about the destination.  Getting there and back is half the fun.  When we road trip, we plan something interesting to see and do about every 2 hours if possible.  Whether it’s a presidential landmark, site of historical significance like the Flight 93 Memorial or the free tour at Hershey, PA, these variety of activities keep the trip from getting monotonous.

How do you find these interesting side trips? Before we hit the road, we look at the map to see the cities we will be passing.  Then we go to that cities tourism office website to see what they list as major attractions.  We often call and talk to them and ask them for recommendations of their top free interesting things to see and experience. 

Family vacations can be chaotic but immensely rewarding. And if you keep these tips in mind, you can help ensure safe and happy travels-at least until you get there.

What do you suggest to beat road trip boredom?  I’d love to hear!

For more ideas on hobbies and life, check out Hobbies on a Budget (www.hobbiesonabudget.com)