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Entertaining Children on a Road Trip
As a child we drove on all of our vacations and most of them were 12+ hours to our destination. As a parent, none of my kids have ever been on a plane because we choose to drive to our destinations to save money for entertainment once we get there. Choosing to fly or drive is a personal decision and for a family of 6 it's just cheaper for us to drive. Our last vacation was to visit family in Minnesota so we had 4 kids (from 10 to 7 months) in a car for at least 18 hours. It had its frustrating points to say the least as does any road trip with 4 kids but it saved us at least $600. The main things that saved my sanity through the trip were the things I brought to entertain them.
I picked up a few of these bingo cards from my local Michael's craft store. They are great because there are no small pieces to get lost or thrown all over the car. There is a small piece that slides over the picture and turns it red so they know they've used it already. I think I paid $1.99 per board but it was worth every penny. We brought a bag of candy to use as the prize and they played this several different times throughout our trip and really enjoyed it. This can also be done with some printable bingo boards and some markers if you are on a tighter budget or just can't find these anywhere.
Of course no Road Trip would be complete with an old-fashioned game of I-spy. we usually try to make it where they can only spy items inside the car unless you're sitting in traffic.
Crayola Color Wonder
A mothers life wouldn't be complete without the mess-free option of Crayola Color Wonder. Obviously your older children should be able to handle real crayons or markers without marking all over you car but I buy these for car trips just to save my car seats. They come in a huge variety of characters as well as blank coloring pages. They even have a lap desk option and a stow-and-go clip board option.
This is a game that we play regularly to entertain the kids when we're stuck somewhere and need them to stay still so it works wonders for Road Trips. Basically it's a very easy game that even the kids can play with each other once they get older and get the hang of how it's played. The parent or child (who's "it") thinks of an animal and gives descriptions of the animal until the other children guess the right animal. Obviously the more discreet you are the longer it will take for them to figure it out. I wouldn't start out with "this animal says "moo" unless you're entertaining 2 and 3 year olds.
Portable Board Games
Portable board games are mainly good for older children. I would personally reserve them for the hotel room just because of the mess factor. However, they do sell various types of these so there are a lot of options and various price points.
Unfortunately, not every car comes equipped with a built-in DVD player so thank goodness the portable DVD player was invented. Now, I am not telling you to sit your kids down for an 18 hour Road Trip and expect them to watch movies the entire time but it is nice to get a span of time where you get some quiet. I would recommend one of these if your car doesn't have one built-in just for your own piece of mind. They range in price from $30-$150.