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HOW TO HAVE THE BEST SUMMER VACATIONS Keep the Kids Entertained the Whole Way
Our family is used to road trips, both long and short. Since Josh’s family lives outside of Philly, we make that trip a couple times a year, often stopping at Sesame Place, the small Sesame Street theme park my husband visited all the time as a kid. Now Jacob gets to see it, and my husband and I get to experience a lifelong favorite through our son’s eyes.
an airplane seat, we can easily remove them. It’s well worth it for the amount of entertainment they provide.
As our son got older, we gave in and provided him with a screen when traveling. Once he was about 2 1/2, we brought along a LeapPad, the small tablet for kids. You can download shows or buy games, and there are many educational options.
We still don’t want Jacob staring at a screen for eight hours at a time, so we’ve developed a strategy of driving as long as possible without offering it, encouraging him to play games or with toys instead. When he asks for it, he uses kids’ headphones to listen to a show or game.
Luckily, Jacob is an easygoing kid, and even on the long drives, he stays entertained. It’s a combination of his laid-back personality and the fact that we’ve been doing these drives since he was 3 months old. We could probably draw a map of the route from D.C. to Philly blindfolded. Even with an easy kid, it helps to plan ahead to prevent boredom on our road trips. Josh and I have learned some tricks of the trade for making our trips enjoyable for the whole family.
As they get older, there’s only so long that the kid’s version of a tablet will work. Now that my son is growing up, he gets to use an iPad. We try to use safer headsets that minimize his exposure to louder sounds. We still go old school a lot of the time. We play “I spy” or a variation of “punch buggy” that our friends taught us, called “Skittles.” Instead of looking for VW Bugs, you look for any car that’s the color of a Skittle. When you see it, you yell “Skittles!” Jacob likes this one. Josh and I stay pretty entertained with it too. For all three of us, road trips are something we look forward to. It’s part of the adventure of going somewhere, whether it’s a new place or reuniting with family. With a few games, the radio, and plenty of snacks, we always enjoy the ride.
Snacks are a must. Feed Jacob snacks, and he’s happy. The trick is that we only give him one snack at a time.
Before Jacob turned 3, we always had a bag of toys for him to play with, whether we were going on a road trip or traveling by plane. The variety helps — he can switch between toys and doesn’t get bored. If we’re traveling by plane, we’ll try to make a stop at the dollar store beforehand and pick up toys there. That way, if the toy falls behind a seat or gets left behind, we’re not stressed about it.
Happy and safe travels to you this summer!
Another treat that has made trips fun is sticker sheets. They’re easy to peel off, so even if Jacob sticks them all over the car or
–Meliha Perez Halp ern
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