Ahhh, the family vacation. Nothing says togetherness like an 18-hour trip in the car with mom, dad and the kids. Taking a road trip as a family can be a stressful endeavor, but it doesn't have to be a disaster if you plan ahead. An important key to happy travelers is to have plenty of activities for them to do while they are on the road.
Here is a collection of some tried and true favorites.
Portable gaming systems, such as the Nintendo DS or PSP
DVD player with a robust selection of movies
MP3 player loaded with some new tunes
Buy a disposable camera for each child and have them take pictures during the road trip – signs for new states, roadside oddities, pretty scenery, rest stops, whatever strikes their fancy. Just be sure to emphasize to them to be careful with how many pictures they take. If your budget allows, consider purchasing each child a digital camera (they are now attainable for well under $50). It is quite interesting to see a vacation from the children's perspective!
Card and Board Games
Card games such as Go Fish, Crazy Eights, I Spy Snap, Scrabble Slam, etc
Travel-size versions of games such as Connect Four, Yahtzee, Monopoly, etc
Magnetic games such as Hangman, Bingo, etc
Print a map of your travel route – something they can easily hold rather than a foldout map that will be difficult for them to fold back up
There are several websites which offer printable activity sheets, including:
Create a basic travel journal that the kid(s) can write in each day of the vacation – it can be a purchased journal, or some pages stapled together
For younger children, consider creating a “grab bag” with small toys – give a new bag at a pre-designated interval (when you enter into a new state or every so many hours, for example)
Ideas for the grab bag: coloring books, activity sheets, stickers, items that are fun for them to hold (squishy animals, balls, etc), new games, toys
First Letter, Last Letter: Decide on a category. The first player names an object in that category. The next person has to think of another object in that category that starts with the last letter of the first player’s object. When someone gets stuck, that is a strike. After three strikes, that player is out. The winner is whoever has the fewest amount of strikes.
I Spy: The first player locates something inside or outside the vehicle and says “I spy with my little eye, something…..” describe the object by color or even shape. Bear in mind, you will have to move quickly if you’re traveling on an interstate!
Counting Game: Count how many blue cars there are, red trucks, cows, horses, anything you think that you will see fairly frequently. Great option for younger children since there’s no reading involved.License Plate Game: Keep a running list of states and see who ends up with the most.
Drawing Game: On a blank sheet of paper, draw an object. Pass to the next person and have them draw another object that would fit in context with the first object. For example, draw a pig.
The next person might draw another farm animal. Eventually, you can end up with a barn, chickens and a whole farm!
Let’s Go Shopping! Starting at the beginning of the alphabet, say “I’m going to the store and I’m buying _______” (apple, for example). Go through the entire alphabet.
Storytelling: Start with a phrase and have each person in the car add to the story. One example might be “One day, the princess took a walk….”
Keep your eyes open for restaurants with indoor/outdoor play areas – McDonalds and Chick-Fil-A are a few examples (all stand alone Chick-Fil-A restaurants have playgrounds – just remember they are closed on Sunday)
At some point, no amount of travel activities will keep the brood happy and that is the perfect time for a stop!
Download a smart phone app which shows what will be coming up at the next exit – rest stops, restaurants, gas stations, etc.
Some rest stops have playgrounds
Even if the kids say they don’t need to use the restroom during a stop, have them try anyway – chances are they will end up going, plus they’ll stretch their legs a bit!
What's your family's favorite car trip activity? Email us and be entered to win in our monthly prize drawing.
Many pages in this GOCOM Media of Illinois Website feature links to other sites, some of which are operated by companies unrelated to GOCOM Media of Illinois. GOCOM Media of Illinois has no control over the content or availability of any linked site. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, duplication, or distribution in any form is expressly prohibited.