Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

June 25, 2014

Look outside the car to enjoy the journey

As families head to beaches, water parks and dream cities for the summer break, they anticipate the fun they will have at their destination.

The challenge? The journey to get there. Tantrums and sibling fights can grow so intense the vacation is shot even before the family arrives. Instead of something to endure "until we get there," how can the journey become part of the fun?

"When will we get there?" The dreaded question. Especially one hour into a 20-hour drive. Most experienced road travelers have played billboard alphabet or kept a running list of how many different states they see on license plates. While some consider the games outdated, the principles behind them remain true -- find a way to get everyone in the car working together and looking outside the car.

No matter the luxury add-ons, a car quickly becomes tomb-like. Add car seats, the tolerance level decreases exponentially. Getting children's attention focused outside the car helps divert the claustrophobia.

If she can read, give the child a map. Show her the starting and stopping points. Either parent or child can highlight the route the family will take. Ask her to announce upcoming landmarks such as cities or attractions. Anyone who has used a GPS knows the comfort in having a sense of where one is headed and how long until arrival. Children enjoy the same sense of connectedness to an actual route rather than a random restraint until someone decides to free them.

See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.

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