Written by Deb Hopper
Great Health Guide articles available in Audio:
School holidays are the perfect time to jump in the car and visit family and friends that we haven’t seen for a long time. Often this means a long car and/or plane trip. While many children get excited about the thought of seeing friends and family, the process of getting there often does not feel like a holiday and parents can wonder if it’s really worth the effort.
Here are five top tips for staying sane through long holiday trips and even have some fun along the way:
1. Create a diary, journal or scrap book before you leave for the holidays. Kids love to plan ahead, ask questions about what they will be doing, planning activities and seeing what is available in the area you are heading to.
On the first page, draw up a grid for the days and weeks you will be away, similar to a calendar. If you are going away for 2 weeks, include the week before or after. If you have set plans on specific days, add them in. Add in who you will be staying with on different days.
Kids love to know what’s coming up and this can reduce worry and anxiety.
2. In the diary, journal or scrapbook, allocate at least one page for every day that you will be away. Children can then use these in the car or on the plane and draw different things they see during the trip. This can be a useful ‘project’ or distraction for keeping the peace during long travel stretches. They can also collect brochures, pictures, stickers, leaves, flowers, in fact anything on the way and paste or sticky tape it in. Make sure that you pack some tape or glue stick supplies! Call into your local travel agent or visit an information session on the way and pick up a free brochure for children to read or look at pictures on the way.
3. For really long car trips, visit your bargain shop and stock up on $2 packs of craft supplies e.g. giant pipe cleaners, post it notes, colouring in books, or other cheap novelty toys. Create little paper bags of goodies and give them out slowly over the trip as needed. This guarantees mess in the back seat, but it’s also guaranteed to divert and occupy little minds and little hands.
4. Listen to audio books or podcasts. This is a great use of time. Choose a book that is age appropriate and even if you listen to 15 or 20 minutes at a time, it will help to break the trip.
5. Take a break. We all know that taking a break every 2 hours is imperative for reducing driver fatigue and taking a break will also help keep the kids sane. Stop at a park and give them a big burst of muscle and movement sensory input. Movement and muscle helps to get the wiggles out and will help keep them sane for the next driving leg.
Long family trips can be challenging but we hope that these ideas can make things easier and more fun! For more great tips for helping busy children find it easier cope with daily life, visit my website.
Summer road trips with the family are a classic Australian holiday. But scorching heat, tight spaces and bickering siblings can spell disaster in a matter of seconds. Before you embark on your next long car ride make sure you’ve ticked all these boxes first.
Read more about Surviving Long Car Trips with Kids
Deb Hopper… Occupational Therapist, author, workshop presenter. Deb is passionate about empowering parents and educators to understand the underlying reasons of why children struggle with behaviour, self-esteem and sensory processing difficulties. A practicing Occupational Therapist, she understands the daily struggles that children, parents and teachers face.
Deb is the co-author of the CD Sensory Songs for Tots, and author of Reducing Meltdowns and Improving Concentration: The Just Right Kids Technique.