Photo Credit: Gettty Images
We make frequent stops to stretch our legs. I bring a beach ball that can be blown up for play but deflated in the car to take up less space. The kids do jumping jacks, see who can jump the farthest and play tag on stops, too.
I bring gallon size Ziplock bags in case anyone gets sick.
To be safe, seatbelts and car seats, and no buts about it.
Honestly, my kids do best with fewer things in the car. I bring a map for them to track where we have been, and a notebook to write, draw or scribble in, but no toys with lots of little parts.
We only drink water and eat clean, non-sticky snacks, like goldfish, baby carrots or pretzels. We normally don't eat in the car, but we do when traveling.
We try to switch seats a lot. At each rest area we all switch seats so everyone gets to sit in a different position (good for the body). Obviously the car-seat kids can't move, but it helps to keep them entertained too, since the same person isn't trying to entertain them the whole time.
Drive while the kids are normally sleeping or napping. Depending on how long the drive is, we leave between midnight and 2am and arrive between 10am and noon. This eliminates the first four or five hours of the trip for the kids. Then you get out and eat breakfast and let them run for a half hour at least.
Perhaps the most important thing we did on our last trip was incorporate playtime in our lunch stops. We planned picnics at rest areas, or we sought out fast food places with play equipment. We'd let the kids play while the adults ate, then got the kids' lunches at the drive-through and let them eat in the vehicles.
We only use our car's DVD player for trips of three hours or more. Our screen is so large that it completely blocks the rear view mirror, so the "car rule" is that the video screen can only be lowered when we're driving on the interstate, not on local roads.
Duct tape works pretty well... just kidding.
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