Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hitting the Road This Summer with Children (and eeBoo Toys Review)

Are you hitting the road this summer for vacation? I’m guessing that many more families will be driving rather than flying to their summer destinations this year to save a little money. However, driving usually means a longer trip – and the need for much more patience when you’re traveling with children! What parent hasn’t heard the wailing from the back seat, “Are we there yet?” or “I have to go to the bathroom” (for the third time in an hour)? So, here are some tips for surviving the ride:

Lower your expectations. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly or all of your plans to go perfectly. In fact, don’t expect anything at all! Just “go with the flow.” You’re away from work and the drudgeries of home. Enjoy yourself and ignore the whining.

Take the worries out of packing by getting the kids to help out if they’re old enough. Give them a checklist of what to pack and have them pile their selections on the bed. You just need to glance through to make sure everything looks appropriate and put them in the suitcase.

Don’t be a marathon driver and expect the kids to sit in the car for five hours of driving. Take plenty of breaks. Consider leaving earlier than you need to and doing a little sightseeing along the way. Every town you pass through is a new destination to be discovered! Sometimes interesting things can be found off the beaten path rather than in a guidebook. The kids will be talking for years to come about the little fish they saw jumping in a pond or the creaky old bridge you crossed over.

Kids get more excited about trips when they’re given a chance to help plan them. Get out a map before you go and show them how you’ll be getting there. Consider buying several copies so they can “help” you with directions. Let them be the timekeepers and tell you when it’s time to stop for a potty break.

DVDs are always good for entertaining the kids for a couple of hours at a time. If you don’t have a player installed in the car or minivan, rent, borrow or purchase a portable one.

Be prepared with towels, extra clothes, and wipes in case someone gets carsick. Stopping frequently for breaks will help prevent this.

Avoid the “he always gets the best seat” argument by assigning seating arrangements ahead of time. If both kids covet the same position, perhaps they can trade off after each stop or for the trip home. Laying down the ground rules ahead of time will help minimize the squabbling.

Bring “car-friendly” snacks and drinks that won’t make a big mess in your vehicle. Dole them out slowly to the kids so they don’t eat all the treats in the first hour or two!

Pack plenty of things for the kids to do in the car. Bring new toys and games and dole them out slowly, not all at once.

eeBoo is an all-women-owned company that makes educational and high-quality products for children, including travel games! They were kind enough to send me two of them: 1) Travel Bingo and 2) I Never Forget a Face – A Travel Matching Game.

Travel Bingo

The Travel Bingo pads contain pictures of items that kids see out the window while they’re on the road, such as a smokestack, a restaurant, a water tower, and a flag. As they see each item on the card, they check it off or cross it out with one of the small pencils provided until someone shouts “Bingo!” It’s a terrific variation on the traditional Bingo game for little travelers.

I Never Forget a Face – A Travel Matching Game

The Travel Matching Game contains a travel-size box of small tiles with pictures of multicultural children from countries around the world, such as Bolivia, India, Israel, China, Scotland and many more. Kids not only learn what traditional clothing might look like in a particular country, but they’ll also enjoy looking at the beautiful illustrations. This is a traditional matching or memory game where kids flip over the tiles, which have been spread out on a flat surface, to find matches. This game probably wouldn’t work very well in the car, but if you’re traveling via RV or train and have access to a table, this game would work well. It’s also something kids can play when you get to the hotel and they’re looking for something to do.

I highly encourage you to visit the eeBoo website at to see their full line of terrific products. Besides the travel games, they have plenty of other games for kids to play at home, as well as sketchbooks, diaries, lacing cards, flashcards, maps, birthday books, and more products than I can possibly list here. You really need to check them out! And did I mention that all of their products have gorgeous illustrations? They catch your eye immediately. (Just check out the pictures on this page!)

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