Saturday, March 1, 2014

Entertaining Kids on Long Driving Trips

Recently we went on a driving trip to Ely and Duluth, Minnesota. Ely was about five hours north of where we live; and Duluth is about two hours northeast of here.

The last part of the driving trip to Ely was 61 miles, 
but it took close to two hours to drive because of the ice- and snow-covered road

Because the trip to Ely was going to be long, I had remembered that I had pinned an idea for making road trips easier with children.

Olivia ready to go on the trip to Ely.

The pin on Pinterest led to 320 Sycamore which had some great ideas for passing time in the car.

One of the first tips was to gather items to put into the "store" a few months before the trip. In my case, simply going to the grocery store and secondhand store a few days before the trip was sufficient.

I purchased healthy snacks (e.g., all-natural fruit strips, all-natural fruit snacks, crackers, trail mix, water) as well as some treats that I normally wouldn't have around the house for the girls (e.g., cheese in a can, Twinkies, root beer).

Some of the food treats. 
The granola bars were a surprisingly big hit with both the girls.

Also, the secondhand store had a sale on magazines and books - originally 50 cents each, they were only only 25 cents each the day I visited. This was quite a savings from the $4.99 cover price of some magazines at the local big-box retailer.

Some of the magazines and books that the girls 
could choose from to pass the time.

Something that was mentioned on 320 Sycamore that I didn't do, but may be more appropriate for younger children, is to "...give everything a point value and [the children] can buy things with their points when you open the store. Our store was open around 10 and 2 every day. They started every day with 10 points and then could earn a point every hour they were good in the car. Of course you can add bonus points if you want, or points can be taken away for naughtiness."

Since Sophia and Olivia are older (13 and 11 years old respectively), I wasn't dealing with rewarding good behavior or punishing bad behavior. Come to think about it, I've never had any issues with difficult behavior in the car when we've traveled. They are always so grateful and happy to be going on a trip. The excitement of seeing and doing new things is the prevalent feeling.

The road near our home. 
This was an indicator of what was to come on the drive up north.

At any rate, on the way to Ely (the longest part of the trip), I told them that they could visit the "store" every hour on the hour. They enjoyed the treats, but weren't as interested in the books or magazines since they had some things of their own to pass the time:

- books from the library that they chose before the trip.

- iPod or mp3 player that had a variety of music that was downloaded prior to the trip.

- Waze - which is an app on my iPhone. It has a GPS component which was very helpful since we were traveling to an area that we didn't know. Also, road conditions are noted on the app which helped determine which roads were safer to travel due to the snow/ice storm we had two days before we left on the trip.

Highway 35 headed north to Ely. 
A large percentage of the highway was covered with icy patches.

Sophia enjoyed watching the progress we were making on the trip on Waze, and was helpful in typing locations and/or information I needed into Waze as I was driving.

On Highway 1 leading to Ely. 
The entire road was like this or worse. 
It was a challenging drive...yet beautiful
as we looked at the snow-covered pine trees.

(According to the app: "Waze is the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.")

Sophia taking a break from being in charge of Waze and the GPS function.
She snapped a few pictures of herself with the iPhone.

Using this app gave Sophia some hands-on experience with map-reading, navigation, and geography. Even though this was vacation, there was still an element of real-life learning and homeschooling which I like to see.

Another way that we benefited from this idea was that the bag with all the food treats came into the hotel room each night. There were a couple of nights where the girls wanted microwave popcorn or wanted a snack in the early evening, so it was nice to have a selection of food to choose from versus ordering room service or buying unhealthy food from the vending machine.

Sometimes, on part of the driving trip, the girls were simply too tired to do anything except sleep.

Olivia sleeping in the back seat. 
She was exhausted by the end of the trip.

I guess that can be expected after two days of dogsledding and a day of ice climbing!

1 comment:

Rita said...

All the long trips we used to go on as kids--3 kids in the back seat of a Volkswagon!--we just had books, paper & pencils or crayons and no treats. We made trips from Mpls to Florida!! Awk! I did a lot of reading.