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Traveling with Kids & Pets/Family travel

patpat Posts: 10,421
Why can some families take 10-hour road trips without any problems and others can barely get across town? What are your tips and techniques for keeping children and teens happy on the road? What are the best car/booster seats?
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  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    Heck, it's in my genes! :) All of our vacations when I was growing up were drving vacations. We managed to hit all of the lower 48 states over many trips. One year we even did a 6 week, 16,000 mile cross country Griswold special with 3 kids and a dog in the car.

    Now to be fair, that was in a 1966 Chrysler Newport where two kids could sit in the back while a third curled up and slept on a platform that Dad built to fit on the rear floor on one half of the rear seat.

    But we've taken trips with 6 hour drives with my two daughters (now 13 and 17) and we've survived. We play all the standard car games. Finding license plates from different states, finding words on signs that start with all the letters of the alphabet, etc. I also have the girls work on their math skills by calculating arrival times (Are we there yet?) by estimating our speed and the distance to go. I have them calculate mileage we are getting when we fill up.
    One that I'm REALLY proud of thinking up kept them busy all the way from Indianapolis to Baltimore :P I had them take the Rand McNally atlas and look at the driving times/distance map and use it as a game board. One of them would start in Los Angeles and the other would pick any spot east of the CA border. The goal of the game is for the one in LA to get to NYC before the other can catch her. On each turn, they can move from one city on the map to the next alnong any of the lines. The trick is that the chaser has to reveal which city they move to on every turn, while the other only has to reveal their location every other turn. It turned out that it worked, so if you're desperate, give it a shot!

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  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212
    ..."portable DVD".
  • Pat, I am so impressed with your creativity with your kids. Yet I have always thought that some kids are just more tempermentally able to handle long drives. My son, who has always been high maintenance, used to make a fuss at the shortest car ride. My daughter didn't mind so much. Some kids apparently enjoy looking at the scenery, though mine don't.

    More comfortable car seats and a rear DVD player have been key in making road trips comfortable, but I still wonder: Will I ever be able to have a road trip with my kids without the DVD -- and without whining?
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    I don't think that the DVD really solves anything. IF we had one in the car, there probably would be a "discussion" about what to watch.

    I much prefer that they occupy their minds :P

    Sometimes I even let them navigate and decide where we turn and what direction we take... just to see if they've been paying attention!

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  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    We have 2 daughters ages 7 and 3 and we travel a lot by car. I don't have a good answer why some families have trouble going across town, while others can go cross country.

    When our oldest daughter was born, we took her on a 1000+ mile trip to Florida before she was 6mos w/o much problems. Plus, we live about 800 miles from my parents and inlaws, along with other family members. We make that trip about 4 times a year, plus our regular vacations. We've been fortunate that our kids are great travelers, with only occassional fighting etc.

    So, I think if the kids ride in a car alot from day one, they seem to be less likely to throw fits in the car. That is my experience at least. We've always traveled a lot and have never let the kids slow us down.

    Since my wife has a busy work schedule, I take some trips back home with the kids w/o her, so I recently purchased a portable DVD player for the girls to watch on those trips. With me by myself and 2 young girls on an 800 mile one way trip, I need every advantage I can get, I've done this 3-4 times w/o many issues other than using the restroom. They are at the age were they don't want to go with me into the mens.

    Since we have a boat which we take on most vacations, we have a Suburban to tow it with, what little fighting we had before is almost non existant since they each get their own row with their own toys etc. We keep a trip bag that has paper, crayons, markers, books, etc for the kids to use along with some electronic games etc to keep them occupied.

    As others have mentioned, you do need to find things to occupy their time, whether it's a DVD player, games, crayons, etc.
  • jefferygjefferyg Posts: 418
    If an automaker would incorporate a privacy window like in a limo between the front seat and the back it would be an instant success. ;) Until then, we will continue to pack books and other "quiet" toys whenever we take our kids on a trip. Also we have found that headphones are indispensible. Our kids (six and seven) each have a LeapPad and they have headphone jacks on them.

    When I was a kid my mother used to buy those Fun Pad things to put in the car before a trip. We used to love to work crossword puzzles, dot to dot, etc in them. You can still buy them at most dollar stores.
  • I think my kids are probably spoiled, because the DVD is the only thing that seems to keep them happy. I also have a 7-year-old boy and an almost 4-year-old girl. The girl is too little to do much but color. The boy would LOVE a GameBoy but we've been refusing, because we are positive he would be addicted. (In fact, although we've had our Ody with a DVD screen in it since 2002, we didn't even let them know what it was until quite recently, when we had a long road trip. I fibbed and told my son I thought it was an A/C vent!)

    I would definitely prefer to go low tech, but my kids have been using computers and CD players since the agea of two, and the result, I guess, is that they get bored easily.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    You should let your son get a gameboy. It's scientifically proven to improve "hand-eye" coordination and alot of the games make you kids think nowdays. Of course moderation is the best way to approach it and after awhile most kids get bored and want to shoot hoops and play dodge ball. "Atleast I did when I was a child"

    Rocky

    P.S. your a good liar ;)
  • Liar? I don't get it... but anyway, we may have to break down on the Gameboy thing eventually, but not yet. His eye-hand coordination, at least as far as athletics goes, is already awesome. Gameboy does have some educational games, but those aren't the ones he's going to want! And the expense... shees! Perhaps we're just forestalling the inevitable...
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    Liar? I don't get it

    I fibbed and told my son I thought it was an A/C vent!)

    This was what I was referring to. I'm sure I'll have to fib a few times to my kids once they get older. Wait I already do. ;) :D

    Rocky
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    She usually falls asleep, and my son get impatient. I'm probably going to get the rear ent. system on my next vehicle whether it's a Car, Truck, SUV, as one guy that wrote into Motor Trend called it a Boob Tube. :D

    Rocky
  • Since we got our dog, the poor animal has been dragged all over the midwest and even out to California. There are a number of pet friendly hotel chains (Red Roof is one, Druery is another) and the dog loves traveling with us.
    What cracks me up is when we start singing with the radio and she joins in. She is actually an in-car entertainment system for us. I wonder how she will feel when she is sharing the backseat with a baby seat.
  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    ..."portable DVD".

    I hate them, absolutely hate them. I see them at night, through tinted glass like they were portable Las Vegas advertising signs. Very distracting. If I wanted that kind of bright moving advertisement, I would have moved to Vegas.
  • They could just read a book or some magazines. Worked just fine for me. A good, long trip would help me get through the better part of a novel. Of course, I was a kid back in the 80s, so I don't know how attention spans have fared since then :P
  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,018
    My kids always got car sick when reading for extended times. We love audio books for traveling with the kids. Before going on a long car trip, we head to the local library and pick up several books on CD. There are a lot of classics and new books now available on CD. We've listened to "Harry Potter", "Alice In Wonderland", "Wrinkle In Time", and many others as we travel the nine hours to Grandma's. However, I believe our Black Lab's favorite is the "Hank, the Cow Dog" series. :D

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  • We have 3 (kids) + 3 portable DVD players.....
    BPD (in the age before the portable dvd player) our backseat was like an arena for no holds bar cage fighting..
    The battle over what movie to watch on the cars built in DVD would quickly escalate to a full blown war with my 2 boys against my daughter.
    Any object not bolted down to the car would be fair game as amunition and the decibal level would become glass shattering.
    GOD BLESS the portable DVD players with headphones..
    There is now a long lasting peace between the fronts occupying our backseat.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,847
    A reporter is looking for any drivers out there who can discuss the creative ways they've tried to keep their car clutter-free. There are so many gadgets, toys for kids, stuff for pets and other goods carried along in vehicles today, and he'd like to know how you manage or organize all these things inside your car. If you think you have helpful tips or ideas, please let us know at pr@edmunds.com by Monday December 24th.

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