Tips on traveling with children

Tuesday, November 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

For many of us, Thanksgiving dinner lies at the end of a long car trip. No matter how far the drive, you can never get there fast enough if you're traveling with children.

News on Six reporter Tami Marler talks about ways of making the trip a little more enjoyable for mom and dad. My family used to cram into a station wagon for family trips, five kids driving my parents to the brink of insanity. Today, it doesn't have to be so hard.

“Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care...” The Griswolds' infamous trip to Wally World looks like a lot of family vacations. Kids and parents have a different idea of what's entertaining. If you want to keep the peace, and keep from turning the car around, you've got to be creative, and the little ones are the toughest. Mr. Potato Head's learning computer was a big hit with these Marquette Preschoolers. We put some of the most popular travel toys to the test. For about $6, the travel Magna Doodle was a favorite. "We're seeing a lot of Magna Doodle, anything from the full-size Magna Doodle to the travel Magna Doodle. They're real popular. Um, Harry Potter of course. Because of the new movie out too." Tara Klimo says Harry Potter toys are favorites, and collector cards and a pocket computer of spells make good travel activities. "We never hear are we almost there? How much longer?"

Melissa McCracken may have the ultimate silencer for her two kids. "They watch a movie all the way there, and if the movie's not over, they watch it all the way back." Car Toys owner Bob Rice, "It's real popular with the middle-age crowd. My age, maybe older, maybe younger. Anybody with a sport utility vehicle or anything along those lines, they want video." Starting at about $1,200 installed. Rice has his SUV decked out with two separate systems. "The kids in the back obviously are watching their screen with their movie; whatever it is they wanna watch, and then the parents up front are watching DVD or whatever they wanna watch.”

Here are some cheap or even free things to do to keep everyone happy on the road. Bring along toy "surprises," along with magazines, books, and portable tape or CD players. Take plenty of snacks, treats, and a water bottle for each person aboard. Dress kids comfortably and in layers so you can add or remove clothing depending on a change in climate.

Stop periodically for some playtime or just to switch seats. And as always, be sure your kids are buckled up.