This post is the third in a series of Thanksgiving posts. Stay tuned from now until Thanksgiving to read about how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe on the roads this holiday season and beyond.

You’re probably traveling for Thanksgiving this year–most people are. And if you’re like most people, you’ll also be travelling by car. In fact, AAA reports that nearly 300 million Californians will be travelling by car this year . As if that weren’t stressful enough, many people who are driving are going to have a back seat of antsy kids, which make for just one more distraction for the driver.

I’m a firm believer that the best defense against distractions is a good offense. I’ve suggested keeping cell phones out of reach while driving, so the temptation is gone. I also recommend keep the phone off or on the silent setting, so you won’t even know if you’re receiving a call. But as all parents know, kids don’t have a silent setting or an off switch. So how to keep them from being a distraction to you? Answer: find distractions for them. Here’s some ideas, in case you’re at a loss:Games

  • Games
    Keep them entertained with classic road trip games like I Spy, and the License Plate Game. There’s a full list of ten games, with descriptions and rules on the Edmunds website.
  • Activity Kits
    Put together a small bag for each child with a few pencils and puzzle books with word searches, crosswords, or sudoku puzzles. Also include a few small toys, and a deck of cards. These activities can easily be done alone if there’s one child, or if the kids don’t want to play together. But they can also play card games together easily and without much mess.
  • Encourage the Arts
    Print out some coloring book pages from a site like Roadtrips.com that are holiday themed–the kids can later give these to Grandma or Grandpa when they get to their destination. Be sure to include some crayons or colored pencils, but stay away from markers or pastels that are likely to leave stains on seats if they’re dropped or if the kids decide to color a little too far outside the lines.
  • Make them Comfortable
    You’ve spent time gathering ideas to keep the kids busy, but what if they’re just tired? Maybe they’re so worn out from playing I Spy. Or perhaps they’re sleepy because they had to get up at 4 AM to get on the road so the family can be on time for Thanksgiving dinner.  Either way, be sure to bring a blanket and pillow for each child. That way they’ll be able to nap if they’re tired, instead of whining.

Whatever you do to distract the kids, if it’s not working, be sure to pull over if you have to address any problems. Turning around or losing focus on the road to get kids under control is never a good idea, but is especially dangerous in the busy, sometimes stop-and-go traffic of holiday driving.

Stay safe, and have a happy Thanksgiving!