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Tips and Tricks on Traveling Long Distances with Young Children

April 8, 2011 by · 3 Comments 


Since we started traveling with our  during the spring, summer and fall seasons about three years ago, we have discover that doing long distance with kids can be tiresome at times.   To reduce the problems that traveling with kids can bring, we have discovered some easy to do tips and tricks.   I want to share here what we have found helpful for our travels with four kids.

A) Planning before leaving

I am a planner.    Ask our family and friends and they will confirm that our family likes to plan…  sometimes we do spontaneous things but for traveling – planning is a must.  I make sure that we don’t forget anything (like I did once by forgetting necessary clothes for my husband and oldest son one year when we went camping… Since then I have lists to go through while packing!).

The most important thing to do before leaving is planning and know what to pack.   Often, we have the tendency to forget that kids gets bored easily while on the road.  We think of packing clothes, food and so on but what about something to keep them occupied on the road?

Each of my kids have their own backpack in which they put books to discover while driving to our destination.   I got this idea from my mom because when I was younger she organized a little basket with surprises for our trip to Florida.  And she had planned for more surprises for the trip back home.

In the backpack, there might be other things than books.  For example, I would put a toy or two as well as their favourite stuffed animal (we can’t forget them!).   For the oldest, I might include a brain puzzle or two, some word searches as well.   We also have Nintendo DSs, as well as a couple of iPods that will be included in our luggage but used as a last resort while the driving is longer than expected.

Our Suburban do not have the DVD player and we have mixed feelings about letting the kids listen to too much television.   We prefer controlling the amount of television they have and let them use their imagination more often.

B) On the road

While driving, the kids can dig in their backpacks as much as they want.  But we also have some fun games we can play while driving…

I Spy with my Little Eyeimage_thumb5

You  might be familiar with this game.    Each person in the vehicle takes their turn and says “I spy with my little eye…” and complete the sentence with something like “something that is red.”   The rule we have  is that whatever the person has seen and want the others to discover must be something that we will see as well.  For example, the child can’t announce something that he saw at the last minute and nobody else has seen.   We usually take something that is in our vehicle, in the distance or that is repetitive outside like cows for example…

image_thumb6Alphabet Game

The Alphabet Game is quite easy.   Going through the alphabet, you have to spot the letters of the alphabet (in order) in the various signs you come across while driving.   When you see one of the letters, you shout it.  The first to arrive at the Z wins…   When you have younger children, they can team up with mom and dad to add more fun.     You could also decide to go through the alphabet and name animals that start with each letters.

Number Game

The number game is similar to the Alphabet Game except this time you go through numbers.   However, you can not put one number in a sign, you have to find the said number by itself.   We usually agree on a number to end on,  for example – go up to 25.

image_thumb3Geography activity

While driving during the summer, you can discover other travelers while on the road.   If you look at the plates on the vehicles you pass on the road, you can identify where they come from.   Discovering the plates from the provinces, territories and states is one way of learning more about geography.   Add some fun by giving the kids a map of the US and Canada so they can spot the places where the other travelers are coming from.

Are we there Yet?530076o_thumb1_thumb[1]

I have had this game since I was a teenager… and still have it.  Yikes!  Mine is an older edition, but after searching on Google I discovered that a new edition is available.  Similar to the I Spy game, this game will include categories like Objects, Signs, Safety, People, Alphabet and Parachute.   A fun way to spend time while on the road!    It is available at and

Books on CD

While driving PA,MA,ME, NB and PE a few years ago, we decided to go through the Narnia series on CD.   We had a blast following the adventures of the characters  in the well-known C.S. Lewis series.    I am particularly fond of the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre products as  I know that the quality of the stories will be fantastic.   They have a variety of titles available like:  Amazing Grace, At the Back of the North Wind, A Christmas Carol, Father Gilbert Mysteries, Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom, Ben-Hur, The Luke Reports, The Life of Jesus, Anne of Green Gables, The Screwtape Letters, and many more.  Many titles to satisfy the listening ears of everyone!

There are many different books on CD that you can purchase.  Check out or ttp:// for the various choices that are there.   Another great one that I have heard is worth having are the Jonathan Park Adventures which we have not listened at yet.

Vol52_cause_and_effect_3D_thumb_thumOur kids particularly enjoy the Adventures in Odysseys from Focus on the Family.  These fun radio adventures will keep your kids entertained and will also give some interesting teaching opportunities for you.   Each episode has a lesson that can be discussed while driving.  We even listen to these on a weekly basis while driving to the swimming lessons.

C) Expect rainy days

As much as I would love to have beautiful days while we are traveling, it is not always the case.   Sometimes, you might have rainy days (or hit a whole week of rainy days like we did last September while we were in Sudbury!).   Nevertheless, you can have fun as a family.   Pack some movies, bring come crayons and coloring books, don’t forget games and books either.   Use the rainy days to explore a local museum or do a bit of shopping as well.

D) Food

As much as I like eating out, when you are on vacation with your WHOLE family it can become very expensive.   So when we plan our outings, we make sure we also bring a lunch with us and bottles of water.

E) Bring your camera

Kids are little only once in their life.  Catching the irresistible memories they will have while vacationing is a must.   Make sure to pack your photo and video cameras in your luggage.   And bring them with you while visiting each and every  place.  You never know when your adorable kids will strike a special pose that will melt your heart when they are older.

Finally, if you want to read more on how you can camp with kids, I would like to suggest a book titled Camping with Kids.     This book is packed with information on how to enjoy camping with your family, including activities like river rafting, boating, backpacking, canoeing and bicycle touring!

Note:  This post has been adapted from a blog made on Canadianladybug Reviews!


3 Responses to “Tips and Tricks on Traveling Long Distances with Young Children”
  1. dana t. says:

    We also love audio cds while we travel. We have all the Jonathan Park cds (tho we feel the stories are better than zoo/aquarium), and we like Focus’ Radio Theatre (no longer made, but still available through CBD).
    Our very favorite cds, however, are
    Lamplighter Theatre – dramatic audio stories from

    their books are wonderful too! You can buy the actual cds, or you can get the audios instantly by purchasing downloads.
    And the coupon code LAMP29 will get you 15% off your regular price purchases :)
    The stories are very professionally done, and Lamplighter customer service is unbeatable. Makes long, not exciting drives (like through Nevada!) enjoyable!

  2. Canadianladybug says:

    Thanks for guiding us toward other wonderful products for long trips. I appreciate it!

  3. I still have to try books on CD’s, but we like to listen to CD’s and sing along while driving. My husband also tries to teach our son geography by giving him quzzies on the capitol cities around the world.

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