Road Trip Bags for the Kids

Next week we're headed out on a mini vacation to a beach about three hours away. It's not a daunting road trip, but we can't go into it too relaxed. The girls aren't experienced travelers, and three hours can feel very long if we don't plan it right. When my kids go south, they go south fast. The whining for snacks, the fighting from boredom, the crying that the sun isn't perfectly placed and it's in their eyes - it can make that last hour feel like five.

We do use our car DVD player with no guilt. But sometimes that isn't enough. In addition to the snackboxes, we make sure each girl has a "road trip bag" that they can reach and use.

Here is how we've made these bags work for us.

We color coded the girls tote bags and everything in the tote bag gets a sticker with the matching color (so we don't get any "she took my…" arguments). Obviously the girls bags are slightly different, but each bag has:

  • Magazine (Highlights, Sparkle World, Disney Jr, Ranger Rick)
  • Headphones (the girls have ipods with their own music)
  • Coloring stuff/Puzzles (we love the little activity books - coloring for the preschooler and puzzles for the first grader)
  • Snacks - granola bar, peanut butter crackers, maybe even a candy or gum treat if they can be trusted
  • Book - one they can be independent with. My little one can enjoy seek and find books without my help, and my older one can read certain books without me.
  • Small Toys - we have a small container that can close filled with some sort of toy they love. Right now, it's these little mermaid/sea creature toys.
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • A small stuffed animal

The first key to the success is that the girls have total autonomy over these bags. They don't need to ask for anything in the bag - it's within their reach and always allowed. It's theirs. The second key is that these bags are only for the car. Obviously certain things come from daily life (the ipods, the stuffed animals), but the other stuff is specific for the trip. The fact that the magazines are special and not available every day makes them engaging. The books aren't ones we're tired of. The activity books feel new.

Road trip bags are a great way to keep your kids feeling like they're a little more "in control" of the backseat, and mine love it!

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