“Are we almost there?”

“How long have we been in the car?”

“How much is 100 miles?”

Do these lines sound familiar? These are the voices of millions of children across America, buckled in their seats on a family vacation and impatient to finally get there.

Dennis and I know these voices all too well. When our kids were growing up, most of our vacation trips involved a couple days of driving—each way. And you can imagine how chaotic those drives were with six children!

Early on, we realized we needed to plan our time in the car as well as we planned the activities at our destinations. Kids—especially the young ones—have no concept of time or distance. All they know is that they’re stuck in a car, and they’re bored. That’s why you need a game plan for your vacation. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Bring along plenty of special activities for the kids. I kept a box full of books, puzzles, coloring books, and travel games and brought it out only for our trips.
  2. Listen to audiobooks. Our favorites were narrations of C.S. Lewis “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. We listened to these over and over to keep our minds off the endless miles driving through an area like western Kansas. The kids were mesmerized by these stories, and they sparked some great spiritual discussions.
  3. Bring along a “complaint jar.” We would fill a jar with dimes (or quarters, when the kids grew older) and set it on the dashboard. If a child began to complain too much, we would remove a coin from the jar. At the end of the trip (or the day, if the driving times was especially long), we would let the kids spend the remaining money as they pleased. This little device did wonders to instantly lower the complaint level.
  4. Have kids keep vacation scrapbooks. These can include drawings, postcards, and souvenirs. This can help keep the kids busy at your vacation spot as well. Years later, these simple journals are absolutely priceless.
  5. Remember to use your time to build relationships. Play games. Sing songs. Enjoy each other.

Remember that your vacation begins when you start your drive—not when you arrive at your destination. Use that time wisely.

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