Road trips with kids can be difficult. They can easily get bored and when that happens you are minutes away from “Are we there yet?”, “He’s looking out my window!!”, “If I see that one more time I am pulling this car over!!!” To prevent some of these things you need to have an arsenal of activities and ideas to keep the kids from getting bored. Here are a bunch of ideas I have had, done as a kid, or do with my own kids. There are a variety of ideas that will work with kids at different ages.
The Alphabet Game: There are so many variations of this game and you can come up with more. Discuss your rules so everyone is on the same page. Each person (or the family as a team) has to work through the alphabet by finding words that start with each letter. “All you can eat buffet” will get you A, B, and C. You can also write down the alphabet on a piece of paper and do the letters in any order you choose. You can include license plates or not. Just make sure everyone agrees on the rules. We are trying to minimize arguing not create it.
The State Game: Again there are many variations for this. You can bring maps of the country and have the kids find the states and color them as they find license plates for them. The goal is to find as many states as you can. You can also list the states and make tally marks and then see what state is the most common. This can be a great opportunity to name the state and try to remember the capital or other important info about each state.
Alphabet Soup: For this game you pick a category like animals. Each person takes a turn naming an animal with a letter of the alphabet. For example, Person 1 says Alligator, Person 2 says Alligator, Bear, Person 3 says Alligator, Bear, Crocodile, etc. You can pick any category you want. If you have younger players then don’t worry about remembering all the animals just everybody take a turn naming one with the next letter.
I Spy: “I spy with my little eye something yellow” and have the kids guess. You can use all kinds of adjectives besides colors like, something tall, something warm, etc. This can be good if you are stuck in traffic and the outside things are not moving by really quick.
Car Bingo: This is just like regular bingo except instead of someone calling numbers you are looking for the items outside the car. Prepare these ahead and have them all in a bag. You can play regular bingo too. Have some blank boards and have the kids fill in the different squares with numbers, colors, animals, etc. You can give them the list of 24 items and they can choose what squares they go in. Then you call out the items as they check them off.
Twenty Questions: Think of an item in a category such as favorite vacation place. Then the kids get to ask 20 yes or no questions to try and figure out what you were thinking of.
How Many?: Work together as a group or individually to see you many things you can name in a category. How many colors, animals, states, countries, flowers, fruits, etc. It can be fun to work as a family and have one person keep the list and see how many can name.
Rhyme Time: Start with a word like “hat”. Continue by saying words that rhyme with “hat” until you can’t think of any more. Then pick a new word.
Sing Songs: There are lots of fun songs to sing together as a family. One we used to love to sing as kids (or say if you don’t know the tune) is – Fried ham, fried ham, cheese and bologna, and after the macaroni we’ll have onions, pickles and peppers, and then we’ll have some more fried ham, fried ham, fried ham. Second verse same as the first __________Voice and a whole lot worse. Then we sing the song again but this time in a western voice, giggle voice, quiet voice, baby voice, etc.
Another fun song is Down By the Bay – Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow, back to my home, I dare not go, for if I do, my mother would say, did you ever see __________________ down by the bay. You can take turns filling in the blank with some sort of rhyme like; a pig wearing a wig, a bear combing his hair, a snake using a rake,
If you are running out of songs then take a break from your choice of music and put on some kids music. You can all sing along together and have a lot of fun.
Have a good Conversation: Take the extra time together to find out more about your kids and what’s going on with them. You can ask a question every time you pass a state line or at the top of every hour or just randomly when you want to talk.
Here are some good conversation starters…
Who is your best friend and what are your 3 favorite things about them?
What is your favorite subject in school and why?
Who has been your favorite teacher and why?
Who do you think is really awesome (ie a role model) that you would like to be like someday?
What would you like to be when you grow up?
Where do you want to go on vacation?
What is your favorite thing we are going to do or that we did on this trip?
Where should we go on our next trip?
What is your favorite season and why?
Which trip or family vacation is your favorite? Which one would you like to do again?
What is your favorite way to get to a vacation; driving, flying, cruise, etc?
What has been the best day of your life, most fun?
What is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you?
What is your favorite book/Bible character and why?
Which book or Bible character are you most like or want to be like?
DVD Players and ipods: Sometimes the kids need some downtime. After a good game or around nap time it can be a good idea to pull out the DVD Player and pop in a movie. Bring a movie they haven’t seen in a while or something new to capture their attention. The older kids may want to tune the world out and listen to their ipods. On a long car ride there is always some time for that too.
Car Bag: I always have a car bag with drinks, snacks, pen and paper, and anything you need to play a game. The DVD’s are always in the car too. Make sure that bag is within reach.
Portable Potty: Although this is not entertaining this can be very helpful on long car rides. My kids use ours on a regular basis. I love the pottete potty and would never leave home without it.
Decorate the Car: The kids might get a kick out of decorating the car with phrases like; “Next stop Disney World”, “400 miles to go” , “OBX or bust”, “We Love Swimming” or whatever else they might think of.
Make the Most of Stops: When you stop for the bathroom or a bite to eat be sure to let the kids burn off some energy. It will serve you well to find a grassy area and have them run laps, have a race, or play tag. It is hard for them to sit for a long time and when they get out of the car its a good time to have them get out some energy.
Carry an Emergency Hammer: Nothing can bring the fun to an abrupt hault like a car accident or emergency. This will help you get out of the car safely in case of an emergency. Its a cheap way to help keep your family safe on the road.