- 50 Mileage Chart - I create a chart for each boy that has 50 mile increments. Our trip is 450 miles so I put 9 blocks and write 50 in each one (make sure to have a chart for on the way home too). I usually tape the chart on their window. I keep small stickers and every time we reach 50 miles they get to put a sticker in one block. To keep them informed I'll put a red X in one of the boxes and write lunch or hotel! Then they know when we get to that box we're going to stop. They love this! When they were younger I kept a stop watch in the car so they know about how long 50 miles is. I put 45 minutes on the stop watch and hang it where they can both reach up and look at the clock. When the timer goes off they get a sticker.
- Party In A Bag - I usually purchase a gift bag and put small gifts in the bag then every 100 miles (or two stickers) they get to reach in the bag-without looking and pull out a prize. Its always something simple, something to keep them busy in the car or maybe a little treat. The BOF really helps and we do a little count down with the mile markers like 5,4,3,2,1 PRIZE TIME!!!!
- DVD Player - A life saver indeed! We love to go to the library before a trip and load up on "new" movies. Now that there is Red Box and Blockbuster Express on every corner we often stop and let them each get a movie. I mean for $1 its worth the entertainment!!!
- Personal Fun Bag - Before our trip the boys each have a back pack and they get to fill it with anything they want from their room to play with on the trip. We always get new crayons, blank art book (mine don't like coloring books), pencils and they each get a disposable camera (the pictures are always interesting). Give them space and let them fill the bag with items they like reminding them it needs to be small for the car and not something with a ton of pieces! No puzzles!!!!
- Stop Often - When the boys were little we would stop for lunch at McDonald's or a local state park. After sitting in the car for hours the last thing little ones want to do is get out and go sit still to eat! So we decided our lunch stop would be play time! They would go right to the play ground and play for 30 minutes then when it was time to go we would set them up lunch in the van, turn on a movie and they were happy!! Take advantage of the rest areas! Stop and get out a ball, jump rope and bubbles and let them play. Its amazing what just 10 or 15 minutes will do. It does everyone good!!!
I hope these tips help spark some ideas for you if your planning a trip. Just remember to keep it fun and build special memories!!! I would love to hear tips on what you do keep your kids entertained on long road trips.