By: Karen Del Ben
When planning a large trip by car, it’s always a good idea to look at the map and check out which towns you might be stopping at for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Picking a route that has more parks or fast food restaurant play lands, might be in your best interest for your routes.
On our way down to Florida, we stopped at many different fast food restaurants and were surprised to find a variety of play lands and parks that were attached to each restaurant. Some places offered indoor parks and others offered outdoor. We opted for the outdoor parks as the weather got nicer on our drive down from the cold winter.
When we did get the opportunity to stop, we would have our meal first, attempting to always choose the healthier options that were available, then we would play at the park for a good 30-60 minutes. During this time, my husband or I would take our jeep to the closest gas station to refuel and tidy up the car for the next chunk of driving. Our last driving session for the day after dinner was always a little different than the others. Most of the time when we would stop for dinner, it would be too dark to play at the play lands or parks so we would pull into a shopping mall and walk around for a little bit in order to stretch our legs. This system worked really well for our little one. It gave him the chance to stretch and also learn a new routine for the trip. He always knew that we would eventually stop to get out and play, and was always patient with us until we did so.
If you’re not interested in stopping at fast food places for a break, there are many rest areas on the major highways within the U.S.A., most of which have some sort of play structure or open area to allow little ones to run around. A child that has the opportunity to move and play will always be happier than one confined to a car seat, with little opportunity to move. Giving breaks allows everyone to recharge their batteries, and less chance of having a grumpy or cranky child while carrying on with the road trip adventure.