Summer means one thing for us……lots of traveling! From visiting friends and family to going on vacation, we will be spending a ton of time in the car.
My family loves going on adventures and it’s such a great way to expose my boys to the world around them.
But it happens to me all the time. As soon as the car starts moving, my boys will shout from the backseat, “Mom, I want a snack.” or “I’m bored.”
I’ve always dreaded going on long car rides. However, I’ve learned that when Mom is prepared, the trip runs a lot smoother. I’m less stressed, my husband is relaxed, and the boys have fun in the backseat.
Thankfully my children are at an age where they like to travel, but boy, can they be demanding. I’ve gotten a system down now and I finally feel like I’m in control when we hit the road.
Not only is it important to make sure your car is fully stocked, but it’s also important to prepare activities or ways to keep the kids (and husband) entertained, especially on long road trips.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Planning a road trip? Don’t even think of leaving home without these 10 items!
- How to pack your car for a road trip
- 5 things to do before taking a family road trip
- Five tips for an awesome family road trip
- 8 tips to help you save money on your family road trip
Activities to keep the family entertained on the road:
This is one of my boys’ favorite games to play in the car. I create bingo sheets for each of them that includes photos of various items (this makes it easier for my 5-year-old to play along). Some items I include:
- Road signs
- License plates
- Colored cars (red car, white car, etc.)
- Fire truck
- Police car
- Toll booth
I laminate the bingo cards and give each child a dry erase marker. This allows us to reuse the cards throughout the trip.
Play The Memory Game
We start off by saying, “I drove around the world and brought back a….”. We take turns adding items to the list. This is great for the children’s memory and creative thinking, but for Mom not so much. My oldest son beats me at this game every time!
Washable Window Crayons
I can hear the groaning right now on this one, but on long car rides this activity is a lifesaver! I let my kids draw on the window with washable window crayons that easily wipe off. They think it’s so cool to be able to draw on the windows and it will keep them busy for hours.
Just because you are going on vacation or will be in the car for a long period of time, doesn’t mean the kids can’t keep learning! I always bring activity books along for them.
National Geographic has lots of great books and activities to keep the kids busy. My son’s favorite is the Funny Fill-In books, just like Mad Libs. Keeps him entertained and at the same time he’s learning grammar and the difference between adjectives, adverbs, nouns, etc.
All kids love bubbles, so why not bring them on a road trip? I bring bubbles that have a spill proof top, however if the bubbles get on the upholstery it easily wipes off. My boys love blowing bubbles out of the car window and seeing the reactions they get from the other cars. It’s also a great way to keep them distracted when making a pit stop to stretch the legs.
A Box Full Of Fun!
What’s a road trip without surprises? I pack a small box of goodies for my boys that I can whip out when they get restless. This includes books, small games, toys (and a few new toys), electronics, stickers, music, etc.
Two things I always include in the box:
1. Miniature battery-powered clip-on reading light – this allows my kids to read their books or play with their toys without distracting the driver (aka my hubby). I can also use it when I’m lounging in the backseat after the kids have fallen to sleep.
2. Batteries/Battery charger – There is nothing like hearing your child cry for eight hours straight because the batteries on their electronic device died. I always stock up on batteries and keep a small battery charger with me to avoid any meltdowns.
I asked my community for their tips on ways to keep the whole family entertained while on the road:
Sandra from Mom2Mom NJ: The alphabet game! Played when I was a kid and just played with my son on our 7 hour trip to Ohio! Take turns finding the letters in order on road signs as you drive.
Dana from Travel Deals from Dana: Every couple hours we make a stop, even if it’s just a quick rest stop. We let my son get out of the car, run around inside or outside if there’s a nice grassy area and let him burn off some energy.
Kellie: Bring cookies sheets so they can play with cars, use stickers on them, magnets, and then we have Lego boxes that fit perfectly in their car seats.
Rachel from Can’t Google Everything: Quiet activity book!
Amanda: Dvd player/ tv, hand held video games, healthy snacks, coloring books, stickers, etc
Carmen: Bring new toys/books from Target dollar section and Dollar store. I recently found a travel folder at our local toy store (on sale) and it kept my 7 year old busy. Also, the state license plate game and lots of snacks.
Denise: My boys have their own bags that they pack with what they want. That way there is no complaining since they made the choices! We bring one iPad and they get half hour turns. I also pack a bag of snacks with things they usually don’t get like fruit roll ups. I try, when possible, to travel around nap time for my little one or keep him up past his usual nap time so he sleeps in the car. My older one (almost 7) likes to collect brochures from rest areas, and believe it or not, it has led to some fun extra stops along the way!
Krista: We had DVD player and screens put in our car also with a game jack. My boys hook up the Wii and play it. If one gets tired the other can switch and watch DVD. One can play Wii and other watch a movie or both can watch the movie or both can play. Very helpful especially when they are arguing.
- Create a road trip fun folder
- Quite road trip activities
- Travel art bag
- Easy activity binder
- Books on CDs
- Conversation starter question (free printables)
- 40 road trip ideas for little kids
Remember just because you are stuck in the car, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Think outside the box when it comes to entertaining your family on the go!