Planning a road trip with a 4 year old can be quite a challenge. Here are some tried and true ways to make a road trip of any distance manageable and even enjoyable. Oh, and this is without the use of the latest technology such as the I-pad, videos, or any sort of computer games. Now, I have to be honest and tell you that I'm not an expert. However, the children that were "tested" in these tips ranged from easy-going to crazy monkey! All the tips have worked and are always worth a try.
Tip Numero Uno: I finally figured out that one of the best tips in traveling with children is to let them get out and get some exercise! This means that your trip will take twice as long, but it's well worth is. I suggest starting out your road trip at the park to get all of that crazy energy out. A bit of fresh air before the trip will do everyone some good. Spend at least 20 minutes at the park and then hit the road. Do this again for the next few segments of your trip, until your little banshee is exhausted and it's time for a nap.
Tip Numero Dos: Pack healthy snacks into little containers or bento boxes. Kids love finding surprises in their snacks, so add a few extra goodies that they normally don't get, but love! We always pack snacks that are easy to clean up: snick-snax (recipe is on the side of the box of chex mix), pretzels, sandwiches, apples, grapes, cheese, yogurts (if your child is good with a spoon), empanadas, and deviled eggs all make great travel treats. Try to keep the sugar and salt consumption down as this will wind your kids up or make them want to drink a lot of water-which means more bathroom stops.
Tip Numero Tres: If you aren't a great singer or story-teller, you better get crackle-acking on this one. Kids love to sing tunes and tell stories. Simple songs like "Five little monkeys jumping on the bed" are great to start with. Or take a song that you know and tweak the words. For example, instead of row row row your boat...sing: "row row row your car...gently down the _________" Kids love to make things up and their imagination will run wild! So will yours.
Tip Numoero Quatro: Don't forget safety tips such as bringing extra handy-wipes, flashlights, clothes (in case of accidents), and a first-aid kit. You never know what is going to happen and always need to pack for the unexpected. Pack PLENTY of water and drinks to stay hydrated, and a pillow and blanket to stay cozy. A simple spray bottle filled with water will beat the heat and kill time, because it's fun.
And last, but not least..HAVE FUN! Your children will feed off of your energy, so send them some good vibes and give them the good ol' travel bug! Happy Trails.