Author Topic: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!  (Read 10225 times)

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Offline Deb_in_oz

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OK we are leaving on Thursday for Sydney (short trip, long drive). it is 1000km and we are doing about 3/4 of the trip on day 1 and then stopping for the night, then 3hr drive the 2nd day.  have 4 nights there then turning around and driving back IN ONE DAY straight through.  Our DVD player has died and dh did not want to rush into buying a new one since we may not take any long drives until next year...so i cruised the net and PLANNED a lot of activities and bought some new things and i figured i woudl share here.  Was hoping others would chime in with their best road trip tips, purchases, lessons learned etc and we could sticky this (the other travel one is all about air travel).

on a good note my friend just rang to offer us some winter coats for the girls to borrow and i asked about a DVD player, so now we will have that afterall (and i will use it. but i have loads i worked on this past week which will be put to use)

I  know Jaime just got back from 3 weeks on the road so hope at least she will chime in.

will gather my websites and lists and post in a separate post. 
Debra - a New Yorker living in Australia married to a Brit

dd1 - Textbook/Angel, born July 2003
dd2 - Spritied through & through, born Feb 2005

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Offline skatty

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 06:13:05 am »
I haven't tried this yet but I saw a farmyard magnet set the other day and thought that would be a good idea with a cookie tray, with older kids you could get some magnetic letters and ask them to spell simple words.
Katt






Offline Deb_in_oz

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 06:20:44 am »
OK will start for a bit (kids will be up in a second)

We always stop every 2hrs and find a local area playground so the kids can have a 1/2hr (longer at lunchtime) break to climb and run and use the loo and have a snack if they want. this breaks up the journey into bearable kid chunks and wears them out enough to chill out at some points with the DVD or nap.

pack a small lovey/blanket if they use one or at least a towel which can be multi purpose - clean up accidents, dry feet, use as blanket if cold etc

snacks: we usually take a small soft cooler bag + dry snacks.  cereal/meusli bars, dried fruit, pretzels, fresh fruit, dips (like hummos), carrot sticks and various kinds of crackers, peanut butter, cookies, yogurt containers, individual long life milks for Liv, etc

small toys that are great in the car:
1.wipe off colouring books (just found these - instead of dry erase markers or Crayola wonder colour, these use crayons but can be wiped clean and reused)
2.sticker activity and colouring books- i pack at least 2 different kinds per kid
3. cube puzzle sets - they pack easy in their case and because they are cubes you have 6 puzzles per set. liv will try alex's this time (6 blocks in the set) and alex got a new one for her birthday that is for older kids and has 20 blocks.
this gives you an idea - the 1st 3 on this site are 6 and 12 pc sets http://www.ultimatepuzzles.co.za/ravensburger_-_kids_puzzles.html

4. magnetic scenes - colourforms type things or we have ones in little cases (Dora and littlest Pet shop - contained and can use with othet magnet things) and also books with magnet bits lfrom top That - we got the wild animals as a gift and it is fab.
http://www.topthatpublishing.com/uskids/series.asp?seriesid=525
5. "look and find" books and pages i photocopy or print from the web. the copies are even better than the books because they can circle the  things they find
6. Dino-links - this is new one for us. ages 5+. very small so little space and you can build dinosaurs with the bits and connectors. they have various sets and can make over a 1000 combos. http://www.skymarble.net/Product/cog/290.htm
7. felt sets - we love these. we have a farm one from ELC, a castle theme one and safari one. plus i got a self contained wiggles set for LIv that is a book with a pouch on the cover that keeps all the bits in it.  will be taking 2 of our big boards + the felt which i keep in bags.
8. small disney princess dolls with clothes and other small fairies and mermaids etc to dress and act out stories etc
9.  new CDs - books and music on CD


then i have got each girl a big raised sides baking tray to use on their lap to contain arts and crafts activity bags that i have put together.  I found a few sites ont he web and then ran with it.  here is a list of what i have made so far (all kept in separate ziplock bags for storage and cleaning up purposes):
1. pipe cleaners + pony beads: i created a sequence of beads on a pipe cleaner and included a 2nd PC + same beads loose. the girls have to recreate the sequence. i made 4 sets of these so they can swap and then later they can take the beads and create their own sequences.
2. felt shapes: i cut out shapes from various coloured felt sheets and they can create pictures on their felt boards which i am already bringing
3. scavenger hunt - alex and i copied pictures from the net of things we may see on the road (like a red car, a horse, a sheep, yellow truck, M sign from McDonalds...) and i created a single page with all the images (we did 27) and the girls will look out for these things and circle them as they spot them - like a prompted game of I Spy
4. glue stick, paper, tissue paper to tear, foam shapes, paper cut outs with paper punchers - colage work  (and No. 5 is another bag with cut up squares of coloured cellophane for another session of art)
6. stringing: i cut up lots of coloured plastic straws and packaged them with lengths of white yarn for them to string along
7. beading: i used a small divided craft case for each girl with a selection of beads and elastic/jewelry cords to make bracelets and necklaces for their friends we will visit in sydney
8. stickers (assorted) and paper
9. nature box - i took a small storage box (IKEA Glis box) and put in it a magnifying glass, leaves, nuts, shells, etc for them to examine
10. various coloured chalk, dark paper, q tips/cotton buds.  wil show them how you can draw with chalk and use q tips to smear for effect.
11.  open chunky crayons + leaves + coins from around the world (finally put them to some use) for rubbings which they have never done before


others i have not done yet and might skip since i have the DVD player now:
smaller mr potato heads from our family set + items to put together
cutting with their small scissors - draw different type lines on paper (wiggly, zig zag etc) and then they practice cutting them out.  then can do their own free form stuff
other ideas for stringing activity:coloured pasta (use food colouring in a bag with pasta) or cheerios

lastly i know you can buy I spy bags in america. they ahve not come here yet that i can see (and cost about $20 each anyway). i read about making it homemade in a bottle and did so:
1 x 1.5L water bottle each (got cheap brand for 69 cents), drink and then dry out
1 x1kg bag rice per bottle
small items that can fit in the bottle opening (a challenge in itself)
use a funnel to put some rice in, then add some objects, add more rice, add more objects etc until bottle is about 3/4 full.  seal cap on with glue gun.  the kids shake and move bottle about to find the items.  since mine are pre-readers i laid all the items first on my photocopier and put a piece of white paper on it and made a colour copy. this will be their reference page. as an idea i put in various beads, a battery, a toy ring, a couple of pom pons, small plastic animals, paper clip, coloured marbles, small coin, red rubber band, plastic barettes, small shell, clothes peg and some other random stuff
Debra - a New Yorker living in Australia married to a Brit

dd1 - Textbook/Angel, born July 2003
dd2 - Spritied through & through, born Feb 2005

Check out my website:   Home Life Simplified
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Offline Deb_in_oz

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2008, 06:22:15 am »
ok you posted at same time as me - yeah i am doing the cookie tray which is multi purpose - contained snack area, crafting space and it is magnetic so can use letters, animals and our various bits.

hoping jaime will post and also rina as she is on yet another big road trip right now.
Debra - a New Yorker living in Australia married to a Brit

dd1 - Textbook/Angel, born July 2003
dd2 - Spritied through & through, born Feb 2005

Check out my website:   Home Life Simplified
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Offline Aly Mac

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2008, 06:23:31 am »
Deb, I am posting only based on your topic name given i'm in a rush, but was going to post this for the aussies :)

I found this today - wish I could make half the stuff as it's expensive, but some great ideas.

http://www.cheekybubs.com.au/Doddlebagz/c247/p1816/Pink-Stripe-Doodlebagz/product_info.html

I'm thinking it may be a good investement as we are going camping in Sept/Oct on a 4hr trip there. Plus good size for camping.  Some of the things I find, activity wise I think are a little old for Lil, but then she will be nearly 2 by then ::)

i hope you have a good trip.xxx
Aleesa.....


Offline Deb_in_oz

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 08:34:51 am »
i bet you could make somethign like that aleesa. i know wendy, deanna and some of the other craft ladies have made crayon rolls that they have on the aussie site for $20 - that is definitely somethign you could whip up (and actually something i woudl probably buy from you!)

forgot to add a couple of planning tips.
when we stay overnight on the way (or a holiday that woudl be self catering) we always pack a frozen dinner (batch of leftovers like spag bol or chilli or curry) as our ice block in the cooler bag + a ziploc bag full of dry carb to make like rice or pasta.  it acts as cooler for other items and means we have dinner sorted for the first night (or only night in what can be a 1 horse town off the highway)

for packing - i always start a running list in the lead up as i think of things we won't want to forget to take along and then check things off as i pack.  i write down most things we use in our routine life (like toiletries) but it is most important for the stuff only for the holiday - like we are going to sydney which has a much colder winter than us. i bought the girls inexpensive hat and glove sets which they have been playing with LOL and i cannot forget to pack them. since i am not using them right now there would be a great chance it would be left behind if not for my list.
Debra - a New Yorker living in Australia married to a Brit

dd1 - Textbook/Angel, born July 2003
dd2 - Spritied through & through, born Feb 2005

Check out my website:   Home Life Simplified
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Offline Jaime

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2008, 14:18:16 pm »
Goodness Deb, I don't think there's much I've done that you haven't already mentioned!   :P ;D

I think our secret was pacing.  We also stopped every couple of hours so we could use the bathroom and stretch our legs a bit.  Usually we only found playgrounds once a day whilst on the road - either lunchtime or mid-afternoon. 

Activities
When I packed the car, I put a big box of books (that they helped pick out), magna doodles, coloring books (new, so novel) and crayons in between the kids, but I kept some other stuff separate.  Up front with me I had a bag containing things like markers, blank paper & rolls of stickers (the stickers got everywhere, but the kids had so much fun with them that I didn't mind).  I had 2 magnetic books that came out when when we'd been on the road for 2 weeks already.  I also packed 2 small bags of little plastic figurine toys & cars - they did all sorts of role playing in the back seat with those! 

If I'm not reading, I like to do things like sudoukus or word searches.  This past trip, both kids liked to do word searches as well - the dollar store always has puzzle books.  For them, it involved mostly just looking for certain letters on the page, but they pretended they were just like Mommy. 

In the US, the first rest stop when you cross a state line usually features a welcome center.  We stopped at lots of those - the bathrooms were generally nicer, and since it's a welcome center, it's a tourist spot.  They will have all sorts of maps & brochures to help people plan your visit - we'd always let the kids pick out a couple and then they could read them in the car, draw on them, and it was nice for them to have something new to look at.  sometimes they even had coloring pages especially for kids. 

I found that since they were much fresher in the morning, it was much easier for them to play with their toys/books/etc. in those before-lunch hours.  If we got on the road a little later, they would last a couple hours after lunch w/o whining as well.  Therefore, the DVD player would usually come out in the later afternoons, when they were getting tired & cranky at still being in the car.  It helped take the edge off until we got to our destination for the evening (& dinner).

Food
Make sure you have plenty of snacks - and a good variety of stuff as well.  It doesn't always need to be crackers - things like raisins & dried fruits travel very well & are a bit healthier.  I found some good granola bars that had yogurt on top - dairy & grains!  Carrots, little grape/cherry tomatos & celery (if yours will eat it - mine won't!) will travel for a while without refrigeration.  I also brought those individual servings of fruit (don't forget the plastic spoons!). 

Pack your food into a cooler, but make sure you figure out if you will regular access to ice, as that will affect the food you can bring. 

Keep in mind that if you are doing very large distances in a single day, your children will NOT be interested in sitting down at a rest stop & eating lunch.  And really, who could blame them?  Personally, I was always willing to let them run around the rest area & burn off energy - they could always eat in the car when we were on the road again, and that would keep them occupied for a little while.

We discovered that stopping at a McDonalds with an indoor playground was a great option (I favored indoor so we would be in the AC as we were traveling out in the desert).  Dh would buy a drink, we'd have our peanut butter sandwiches, and the kids would run all over the playground.  Most McD's also have water, so we could refill drink bottles, etc.  I'd make a sandwich for the kids to eat once we got back in the car.

that's all I can think of at the moment....
Jaime
~~~
DD - Textbook
DS - Touchy/Grumpy

Offline flutie

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2008, 16:33:07 pm »
Wow....what great ideas.  I am going to make several of the search and find bottles for my grade one class!!  Some games I play with my nieces on road trips are for slightly older children....some might work though!
1) Car tally.  Each member of the family picks a colour of car.  Then, one child is responsible for calling out the colour of cars that pass and the other is responsible for keeping track of a tally on a pre-made chart.  They can then switch jobs for a while.  After a set time, see whose colour had the most.

2) Alphabet Search.  In a city/town, the family works together to find all of the letters of the alphabet in order, on signs, stores, billboards, license plates....etc.  Time how long it takes and then see if you can beat the time in the next town.

3) Object Alphabet search- Similar to the last game, but find objects that start with each letter of the alphabet.

4) What makes it? - chose a structure (house, car, boat....etc) Then each family member has to think of a material used in the structure (example: Car:  rubber for tires, glass for windows, fabric for seats, metal....keep going until all of the materials are mentioned or no one can think of a new one)

5) Fortunately/Unfortunately:  The familiy works together to create a silly story.  Each member starts there sentence alternating between fortunately and unfortunately. (Example story starter:  There was a cat who went for a walk and ran into dog......Fortunately it was a was on a leash dog.....unfortunately the leash broke.....fortunately, the cat found a tree to run up....unfortunately the tree was infested with termites.....etc)
Have fun on your trip!!!
Lisa
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Offline Deb_in_oz

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Re: Long distance road trips BY CAR - activities and tips - let's share!
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2008, 21:39:21 pm »
thanks for adding guys - keep em coming.

Jaime - you totally reminded me of a couple of things
DEFINITELY the fact that without fail you can find McDonalds or other fast food places with playgrounds - if it rains we do that too and dh and i will have a coffee and the kids get soft serve (actually the only times my kids have been in Maccas LOL)

In Australia we have a quirky thing - all over the country there are "Big" things and dh has made it his mission to visit as many as possible.  we have already been to the Big Prawn, Redback (spider), Merino (sheep), Orange, Guitar,Banana, Pineapple, amd others i cannot remember right now.  so he checks before we go and notes where the stops are - they always have exhibitions, food to try if it is a food one (and related products). These stops are often totally cheesy, but always fun photo ops and cool gift shops where the kids might get something small or inexpensive like a sparkle filled wand or a mini slinky....Highly recommend on big aussie roadtrips. i think dh mentioned at least 2-3 for this trip.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia's_big_things

also forgot a last minute small and inexpensive new toy i found yesterday- called tangle Jr - you may know itsince this site says it debuted in 1989!!!  but i have never seen it in oz.
http://www.drtoy.com/2004_2/2004_2_095.html
Debra - a New Yorker living in Australia married to a Brit

dd1 - Textbook/Angel, born July 2003
dd2 - Spritied through & through, born Feb 2005

Check out my website:   Home Life Simplified
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Offline Jaime

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Jaime
~~~
DD - Textbook
DS - Touchy/Grumpy