Make Car Travel with Kids Less Stressful

      Hit the road happily. If packing the family into the car for vacation has you stressed out, professional organizer Julie Starr Hook, author of From Frazzled to Freedom, can help. She shares how to get your summer car travel off to a great start by packing some fun!

      • Games: Games can take up time are fun for the kids. Have them find letters in signs from A to Z, find Slug bugs and license plates from each state and Car Bingo.

      • Education: Use this time to teach children the alphabet and math problems. It may be helpful to pack some flashcards. Check out your local library for books on CD's before the trip. Include the kids on these decisions.

      • Electronics: If you don't have a video player in your car, consider borrowing one from a friend or investing in one. Choose videos before the trip that will be appropriate and that all the family members will enjoy. IPods or cell phones with headphones are especially helpful. This way the kids can each listen to their favorite music.

      • Food: Food and drinks are especially handy to keep in the car during a road trip. Consider items such as fruit, licorice, fruit roll-ups, chips, breakfast bars, raisins, dried fruit, nut mixes, juices and bottled water. If you decide to bring items that need to be chilled, bring a small cooler. Have Handy wipes available for spills and messes. Also, pack several plastic bags available in case a child gets sick in the car and also for a place to put garbage and soiled clothes.

      • Toys: Let each child pack their own small bag of special things. Make sure to limit the amount of what the child brings.

      • Breaks: When you stop for a break, let the children play. You may consider packing a jump rope, ball or Frisbee. Try to take breaks every two hours with small children. School playgrounds, fast food restaurants and parks are a good place to stretch and let the kids run around.

      • Surprises: Wrap up small gifts to give your children and give it to them after a specific amount of time. A suggested time for a surprise may be every 30 minutes to one hour for small children and one to two hours for older children. Some ideas for younger children may include, stencils with colored pencils, gum, a small toy, Travel Magna Doodles, lacing cards, travel game or a stuffed animal. For older kids, I tunes gift card, gift card for a fast food restaurant, sunglasses, their favorite snack or beverage or favorite magazine.

      • Medical: Keep a first-aid kit in the car. Sea bands are also my favorite item for travel sickness.

      • Attitude: Parents can set the tone of the vacation. Attitude is everything. Talk about the trip with your kids about how exciting and fun it will be.

      For more great information, visit Julie's blog.