Any parent (or any adult for that matter) who has ever had the joy of taking a long trip in a car with children can tell you that it is not an easy thing to live through. While you undoubtedly enjoy spending time with your kids, being confined in a tight space with them for hours isn't always the best way to feel the love. That is, unless, you know of a few tricks to keep them happy and occupied. These tricks tend to fall into one of two categories: entertaining them so they're quiet and not fighting, and getting them to play together with the family to make memories you won't soon forget. No matter which strategy (or combination of the two) you try, keep in mind that driving for hours then having to search for parking at the Miami Port isn't always fun for you either, so be patient if they get cranky or tired. Here are a few easy and successful ways to keep things peaceful and fun.
No matter the age, books give kids a way to escape into the world of their imagination. Before each long road trip, you could let each child pick out a new book for the journey and you can plan some reading time on your trek. You can also get books on CD online or at the library for the entire family to enjoy together. If your favorite book isn't available on tape, you could let your children take turns reading the story aloud so you get the same effect but a little cozier.
One of the best ways to keep kids entertained is to keep them focused on something. If you play a game that requires their attention, you can get everyone involved and make time fly. Some of the easiest games to play involve creating a list and having the kids search for items on said list. For example, you could play the alphabet game where you have to find things on your journey that start with the different letters of the alphabet in order. Now this could be a collective effort or you could work individually and say that no two "A" words can be the same. You can come up with all kinds of creative games for the trip ahead. Maybe the kids have some ideas or you have games you played with your family.
No matter what else you are bringing, make sure you bring along some kind of music. Whether it's portable players, CDs, or an auxiliary cord that you can plug into an mp3 player, remember to bring something, because a silent car is an unhappy car. Obviously, you'll want to bring along music the whole family can enjoy, but if you're really torn and can't pick what to listen to, you can always take turns. Take the time it will take you to get to the parking at the Miami Port and divide it by the number of family members with a say (which rules out anyone who can't talk and any teens too cool to listen to music with you). That way, everyone gets some time to listen to their favorite music.
When all else fails, a digital camera can save the day. Hand any kid a digital camera and they will fill up that memory card before you know what happened. There is something about being able to capture their time in a photograph that fascinates kids. Plus, when the trip is over, you can work together to make a fun scrapbook to keep the memories alive. You can make this even more fun by making it a scavenger hunt. Hand the kids a list and see who can cross everything off before you are parking at the Miami Port.