Summer traveling with children

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Summer is here and so is the time for family vacations.

If you have children, you know the challenge that a long car trip can be.

To make sure your road trips with the children are enjoyable, do some planning on how to meet both their needs and yours.

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First, plan your route and work in some stopping points.

Children need to make more frequent bathroom visits.

They also will become restless if confined to the car for too long.

Taking rest breaks about every two hours is a good guideline.

You may be able to go a little longer with older children.

If possible, make rest breaks more interesting than a stop at a fast-food place or a gas station.

State rest areas often have information about different locations and may have information on your destination.

Before you leave home, pack some snacks for the kids.

If you have more than one child, pack each child a snack bag.

Include fruits, vegetable sticks, cereal mix, low-fat crackers and cookies.

Seal the snacks in single servings in re-sealable plastic bags.

Those with a plastic tab are good.

Having their own snack bag will limit squabbles.

Pack a small cooler filled with juice boxes.

This helps prevent messes in the car.

Help each child develop a personal travel bag.

Canvas shopping bags or small inexpensive duffel bags will hold plenty of items.

Let them include a couple of favorite toys in their bags.

Give children a disposable camera for their bag.

They can create their own photo album of the trip. Playing cards, coloring books and a small box of crayons are other ideas for the bags.

If your car has a cassette or CD player, invest in story and book tapes appropriate for their age, or borrow them from the library.

These can help make the trip seem shorter.

Finally, dress the children comfortably for traveling.

Loose-fitting clothes are best.

If they'll need to be dressed up when you reach your destination, pack those clothes separately.

Stop and dress the children in those outfits right before you reach the destination.

Be sure to include an emergency kit as well.

In addition to a small, well-supplied first aid kit, pack a hand towel and wash cloth for quick clean ups.

Baby wipes or a waterless hand sanitizer will come in handy, too.

Freeze a damp washcloth, put it in a re-sealable plastic bag and store it in the drink cooler.

You can use it to soothe everything from bug bites to bumps on the head.

Also make sure you keep with you any medicines the children are taking so you won't have to search through every bag in the trunk to find it.