Grab a pool noodle and dive in! It’s movie night at Rancho Bernardo Inn!
For many parents, hitting the road with the kids for a road trip means listening to a chorus of “are we there yets?” And keeping the children occupied for hours on the highway is always a challenge.
According to the results of a new survey conducted for VTech (www.vtechkids.com), a world leader in electronic learning products for children, by BabyCenter.com, 97 percent of parents dread spending more than one hour in the car with their children.
“The majority of the problems parents face while traveling with their kids stem from boredom,” said Dr. Helen Boehm, a psychologist and a VTech consultant. “Kids have been in school all year where their minds are constantly active and soaking up knowledge.”
Boredom doesn’t have to be the end result, however. There are many ways to keep kids busy on the highway. By putting together a few simple tips and a few ideas for pre-planning to work, parents can eliminate the whines of “are we there yet?” from the backseat. As an avid road tripper with two young daughters, I have put together a few suggestions:
1. Plan ahead. It’s important to plan your trip with plenty of stops along the way. Check the map and look for parks and rest stops where kids can get out and run around, throw a ball or just play tag on the grass. Even just a quick 15 minutes can alleviate some of the boredom.
2. Make the most of mealtime. Find out where you are going to eat before you leave and try to find healthy food and snacks along the way – maybe even pack a picnic. Minimizing the amount of sugar that kids eat will also go along way with avoiding tired tantrums in the car.
3. Bring plenty of toys. Companies such as VTech offer great interactive toys for children of all ages such as its, InnoTab 35, which offers interactive games and apps. Tablets such as these are compact and can offer a range of learning activities without having to lug around a lot of stuff. I also always hit the dollar store and pack a “surprise bag” of silly toys that can keep kids busy for a little while, and no one cares if they get lost along the way.
4. Family games. Play games that the whole family can get into such as “I spy” or the alphabet game. When all the occupants in the car can get engaged, the road trip is more fun for everyone.
5. Movie Time. Fire up the iPad or Kindle or the laptop and let the kids kick back with a movie in the backseat for a little while. This is something that we do when it’s nighttime, the road is dark and there’s a long drive ahead.
The survey was conducted among 1,946 moms recruited from the BabyCenter 21(st) Century Mom® Panel managed by Socratic Technologies, Inc.
After five days on the road driving around California’s Central Coast in a rented RV, we headed home. As we left the Pacific Coast Highway, trading ocean views for rush hour traffic, we realized that our return was bittersweet. I would miss the refreshing breezes California coastal cities such as San Simeon, Cambria and San Luis Obispo, but I really wanted to take a hot shower and enjoy some air conditioning.
Our final itinerary ended up being ideal. We began in Los Angeles and left with the kids in the evening, putting them to bed in the motor home. We arrived in Avila Beach and found a free, safe place to park overnight. Avila Beach offers free parking along the shore from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Since it was the Fourth of July, we headed out early in the morning to get parking. When we arrived at the beach, there were only two other RVs parked along the water; by 8 a.m., it was getting difficult to find parking; and by 10 a.m., the coastline was packed with holiday revelers. The Central Coast is often foggy in the morning, but the clouds lifted by 11 a.m., and we enjoyed a sunny Fourth on the beach, wrapping everything up with a campfire on the beach.
On day two, we headed North to Cambria and San Simeon. Since we were traveling last-minute, we weren’t able to get a reservation at the San Simeon Creek Campground. As many of the state parks do, however, they offer first-come, first-served spots. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and were 13th on the waiting list but the park ranger said that our chances were good — they have almost 300 campsites. Sure enough we got in at 11:30 a.m. and had a gorgeous campsite at the top of the campground with views of the Pacific from a bluff and shaded by trees. It was only a short walk to the beach, and the three-mile San Simeon Creek Trail loops around the campground and is easily accessible. We stayed for two nights, exploring tidepools, beach combing on Moonstone Beach and exploring the town of Cambria. We could have easily stayed one more day and gone to Hearst Castle, visited the elephant seals or shopped in Cambria.
We headed out from San Simeon around noon to camp close to home in Malibu on our last night. The drive was beautiful, however, the campground, Malibu Creek State Park, was set back from the ocean and wasn’t quite as spacious as our site in San Simeon. Still, it was clean and was only a short walk to the ocean. From Malibu, we drove home in order to return our RV by 11 a.m. that morning. When we stopped for coffee at Starbucks, we knew we had returned to reality.
Malibu Creek State Park
San Simeon Creek State Park