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Hit The Road: Your Family Travel Survival Guide

12/04/2013 03:16 EST | Updated 11/28/2014 05:59 EST
Sam Edwards via Getty Images

Winter is coming, but the snow and cold aren’t exactly the scariest bits. Instead there are wreaths, eggnog, boughs of holly, oodles of children running around waiting for Santa, and general Christmas cheer. Along with all the excitement that comes with the holidays, there is the downside of travel -- so much travel. Even crossing city lines to get to your next holiday shindig can feel just as tiresome as crossing the entire country. Carrying bundles of presents, food, all the children, and maybe even the family pet, can become an impossible task.

But one way to keep your spirits high during the holiday season is to make sure the kids in your car/train/plane are occupied; it helps you win half the battle. But how do you keep them entertained? Here’s a handy how-to guide to keep everyone happy and joyous this holiday season.

Hit The Road: Your Family Travel Survival Guide

Keep the music playing

Drop the beat, and maybe your kid will drop the attitude on the lengthy car ride. “Are we there yet?” will probably be replaced with glorious silence. Think about it: no squabbling about which radio or satellite station to listen to. You can happily listen to Paul McCartney’s Christmas jams all the way to your destination as the kidlet in the back grooves to hottest new songs with their purple urBeats earbuds (available only at Target). This is an investment that will pay off in sweet silence for years to come.

Let your inner artist shine

This one can get a little messy, but if we stick to the basics here, no upholstery has to suffer. Grab some pens, pencils, blank paper, and maybe even a colouring book and let the kids have at it. Add some fancy-looking pens and markers, a table tray, and some construction paper, and you’re good to go. That should keep your Picasso-in-training busy for the entire trip.

Hooked on...learning?!

Sometimes it takes a good book to make a long journey seem like just a blip in time. Whether your children are ace readers already and onto lengthier editions, or if they are just picking up on the phonics of words and sounds, reading can easily entertain and keep them mentally active with something like the LeapPad2 Disney Princess Enchanted Bundle (available only at Target), that both teaches and amuses. And you’re not only getting the core LeapPad device (the #1 learning tablet in the world -- no big deal), you’re also getting your kids Disney Princess lockets, exclusive Disney content (wallpapers, carrying case), and a $20 digital download card. Let’s be honest: you’ve been looking for a way to turn your kids’ love of princesses into a love of education. Consider your problem solved.

There is no “I” in “Team”

Sometimes, you need to address your family’s competitive spirit in a safe (and travel-friendly) way. Friendly competition in the form of travel board games such as Scrabble, chess, or maybe even those hungry hippos can keep the attention of your precious cargo. Sure, they aren’t terribly flashy forms of entertainment but, with the right game, they can add up to hours and hours of fun.

Turn on, tune out

There is nothing like sitting back, stretching out your legs, and tuning into a good movie. It feels a lot like home to be wrapped up in that kind of familiarity and comfort. So, pick a few movies your kids enjoy for the long road trip. If your vehicle is already equipped with a DVD system, then pop in a film and enjoy the ride. There is also the option of setting them up individually and getting to it with portable DVD players.

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