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With March break coming up, many parents will be packing their kids into the car for a family road-trip. At some point the marathon games of Spy the family sing-alongs and the incessant asking of the age old question are we there yet? start to grate on everyone's nerves.

Ann Douglas, a parenting expert and mother of four, has developed road trip survival tips for staying sane on the road. When I embark on a family road trip there are two things that we don't leave home without, says Ann. A portable DVD player with a selection of movies and an arts and crafts kit. Ann Douglas offers her top five tips for family road trips:

1. In-Car Entertainment
While Ann believes kids should be unplugged during their holidays, she does acknowledge that technology has its place on a long road trip. One way to minimize sibling squabbles en route to your destination is to play their favourite movies using your vehicle's built-in entertainment system or a portable DVD player. To keep travel entertainment simple and streamlined in an already tightly packed vehicle, Ann's must have item is the Movies On The Go collection from Universal Studios Home Entertainment Canada, which comes in a durable travel pack to keep up with life on the road. All of the DVDs are kept in one place with a convenient travel pack and it is portable so you can take it everywhere and anywhere. If you want to survive the family road trip it's important to keep kids engaged, says Ann, Movies On The Go is the perfect solution for keeping the kids entertained and allowing moms to focus on the road. And its compact packaging ensures a clutter-free vehicle.

2. Tunes
Ann also suggests having each family member make a road trip CD with their favourite songs. Take turns rotating the CDs so everyone gets a chance to listen to their favourite music. You can even bring along a soundtrack from a DVD that the children have just watched and enjoy the music after the DVD is finished, comments Ann. Or play snippets from various tracks and challenge one another to an on-the-road version of "Name That Tune!"

3. Old Fashioned Fun
Once the movie is over, old fashioned fun can occupy hours on the road, so stock up on a deck of playing cards, travel board games with magnetic pieces or brain teaser puzzles. Ann suggests getting creative as a family and making up your own car games (perhaps your own unique variations on old favourites like license plate bingo). If you are travelling through places new to your family, engage your children in conversation and talk to them about what they are seeing along the way. And don't forget to make frequent pit stops at family-friendly roadside attractions. It's a great way to break up your trip.

4. Arts & Crafts
For her youngest child, Ann often brings a Ziploc bag full of stickers and construction paper plus a cookie sheet desk for on the road art creations. For budding sculptors, pack pipe cleaners and Silly Putty for 2-D and 3-D works of art. Another great idea is to allow children to create pieces of art using the car window as a canvas.

5. Take Breaks
Ann stresses that taking breaks is imperative on long road trips. Plan to stop at least every three to four hours more often if bathroom breaks are required in between regular snack or mealtime pitstops. And while the vehicle is parked, get the kids moving: children need to get out of the car, run around and burn off some energy. It is also a good idea to take a ball and Frisbee along to use during stops. Encourage your children to take bathroom breaks even if they think they don't need them, as the rest stations may be few and far between and traffic can be unpredictable.

Good luck and remember road trips are a fantastic opportunity for children and the whole family to explore new places! All it takes is a little planning.www.having-a-baby.com

 


Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting, including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, The Mother of All Toddler Books, The Mother of All Parenting Books, Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler, and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. Find Ann online at

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