If you've been following Metropolitan Mama for any length of time, you've probably discovered that our family LOVES road trips. In fact, it's often our preferred mode of travel. We've been to almost all 50 states by car over the last five years...with more trips planned in the coming months!
Road-tripping is more affordable, allows for more stops, and we can bring as much gear as we need without luggage restrictions.
Before any trip, I do my best to pack items that will keep our kids entertained...plus, engage their body and mind.
Here are some things that we've made good use of this summer for long hours in the car.
Lollipops are a super distraction for road trips because they offer more than a momentary sugar rush. They're also great for airplane rides since the sucking motion can help alleviate ear pressure. That said, we don't want sticky sugary goo to stay on our children's teeth. Enter Dr. John's Xylitol lollipops, created by a dentist to help keep cavities away. Flavors include blue raspberry, hot cinnamon, natural cherry, double dutch fudge, and many more. You can even buy lollies in the shape of a tooth!
Over the past few years, I've determined that not all educational workbooks are created equal. I used to pick up whatever was available at Walmart or Target...but I was often disappointed in the age/grade level appropriateness and the lack of focus. Thus far, Kumon Publishing has been my favorite pick for workbooks. The lessons are straightforward and there are a plethora of options across subject areas. Available for purchase at your local Barnes & Noble.
How cool would it be if you could carry a booster seat in your purse and blow it up when you arrive at your vacation destination? Now you can...thanks to BubbleBum. The small inflatable booster seat "meets or exceeds all safety regulations." It can be used for children who meet the following criteria: (a) between 40 and 100 lbs, (b) over the age of 4, and (c) can sit for the entire journey without sitting on their knees. While the BubbleBum can certainly be used for every day car rides, it's also a SMART pick for carpools, vacations, and grandma's car. Available for $29.99 in Black, Purple, Neon Pink [NEW], and Neon Yellow [NEW].
We almost always do a library run or a small Amazon order prior to a road trip. A new audiobook or DVD is a boon for helping the hours fly by. If you have elementary age children, I highly recommend the audio version of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, narrated by Lizza Aiken (daughter of author Joan Aiken). As far as DVDs are concerned, our girls really enjoyed Liberty's Kids- The Complete Series on our most recent 5,000-mile road trip (only $5 on Amazon for 866 minutes of entertainment!). Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music almost always come along for the ride too - popular choices for their longer length, catchy tunes, and uplifting messages.
At $6-$8 a pop, these sticker books are a bit pricey - but we've found that they easily distract our two older girls for long chunks of time. The themed books allow kids to dress each character with full outfits and plentiful accessories. Ages 5+.
Created by 24x7 digital, there are currently six different apps in this series - Teach Me Toddler, Teach Me Kindergarten, Teach Me First Grade, Teach Me Second Grade, Teach Me Third Grade, and Teach Me Math Concepts. Children answer "multiple choice" questions in math, phonics, spelling, and writing to earn gold coins. They can then use those coins in a shop to "buy" various items. At between $.99-$1.99/each, these apps are a steal!
What products have you been using on recent road trips?
* Thanks to Dr. John's, Kumon Publishing, and BubbleBum for providing product samples.