Road Trip Activities For Kids
Ah, the wonderful family road trips. The hours upon hours of "Are we there yet?" and "I have to use the bathroom!". Being a military family we take a lot of road trips. I have become a huge fan of the phrase "Take a nap and we will get there faster". It is hard traveling with children. Here are a few tips and activities to do with your kids on those super long journeys.
BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR
Before you head out on your road trip there are a few things you should do.
First you need to get your vehicle ready. Change the oil, check the tire pressure, make sure it is full of gas (or you have a plan to stop and get some before you leave town), you have good windshield wipers and are full of wiper fluid (as you are more then likely going to need it for the bugs you will encounter).
After the vehicle is ready to go make sure the family is ready. All bags packed, snacks and drinks are in the cooler, toys and to do items in your kids' "carry along" bags, everyone has used the bathroom before getting in the car (even if they don't have to, they need to try), all camera's, DS's, and phones are charged.
THINGS TO PACK
Packing for your road trip could be one of the hardest parts of the whole trip. If you forget something your kids really had their hearts set on playing with or doing while on the trip, you might find yourself inside a walmart buying whatever it was you forgot to pack. And this is OK! Because we have so many options here in America, if we do forget something, there is always a walmart right around the next corner.
My hub What To Pack For Long Road Trips goes more into detail some of the things you should probably bring along on your trip.
CRAFT AND ART IDEAS
There are a lot of different craft and art ideas that you an bring along on your trip. The usual ones are coloring books and things for the kids to color with and of course writing/drawing paper or a notebook. For some kids just these few things can keep them busy forever. For others they might need more. Here are a few ideas on what craft and art things to bring on your road trip.
- Yarn - I just taught my daughter how to finger knit and so this is going to be a huge thing for me to remember to bring. She will sit there for hours just knitting away. You can also bring a small loom or hooks in case they know how to do more stuff with the yarn.
- Pipe Cleaners - Get the assorted colors and these can be used for hours of creating different things. You can make monsters, flowers, houses, etc. Anything you can think of and it can be done with pipe cleaners.
- Coloring Books - It's always good to have coloring books along in the car because all kids love to color. I don't recommend bring markers, as some kids don't put the lids back on them right. Colored pencils are great because they don't melt but make sure you have a pencil sharpener along with you because, like our trip that is going to take 28 hours one way, I can guarantee those pencils will need to be sharpened.
- Notebook/Writing Paper - Along with these you should bring envelopes and stamps. Have your kids write letters and when you stop to get something to eat or fill up with gas put those letters into the mailbox. They can be to anyone and they can be about their trip up to now. What they liked, what they saw, etc. These are especially great for families with deployed parents. It keeps the deployed parent in the loop about their road trip (and will usually get a laugh or two).
- Aluminum Foil- This is a new one that we will be doing for our 28 hour road trip coming up. This is such a great idea for kids because it can be used for hours and hours of sculpting. Tear off little pieces or big pieces and keep adding on to your creations.
- Latch Hook Rugs - If your kids are old enough, a Latch hook is a great idea to take along. It doesn't make a mess (unless they get the yarn pieces everywhere), and it is something that they could possibly finish before you get to your destination.
Games in the car can be a great way to get the whole family involved in something while making that long trip. Each person can participate (and get a prize if they win). Here are some of the games that my 7, 6 and 5 year old love.
- I See Something - Each person takes a turn saying "I see something" and adding a detail about that thing at the end. Ex: I see something green. Everyone then takes turns trying to guess what that person is seeing. Trees, grass, dollar bills, a car, etc. It can be inside or outside the car but has to be in sight the whole time it is that persons turn. You can not say you saw a green umbrella in the store window you passed 20 minutes ago (as this would be almost impossible to guess). You are allowed to use the same thing as the person before you but some kids are smart and will get it right away.
- The License Plate Game - This is a game that you can always have in your vehicle and can pull it out on each trip and just keep adding to it. With this game you print out a list of all 50 states (HERE) and when you see a license plate of that state mark it off. Along with that list you can add the "special" plates you see from Canada, Europe, Asia, etc. You will not see a lot of those so writing them down when you do see them makes the game more fun.
- Highway Bingo - At the dollar store by where I live I got these cute dollar bingo cards. On each card you have things like a dog, fire hydrant, red light, stop sign, mail box, airplane, etc. If you don't want to use dobbers in your car that is fine, you can just use a pen, pencil, or marker to mark off your spots. Keep a small bag of prizes (candy that won't melt) in the glove box so the winner of the bingo can get a candy or small toy.
- The Alphabet Game - This one is easy enough (until you get to the hard letters) and is really easy if you play it while driving through a large town like Denver or Chicago. For this one, you start at the letter A and find a word that starts with an A on any sign. It can be a billboard, a street sign, a store sign, even the sticker on the back of a car. After someone finds the A and yells out the word, you move on to the B. In my experience I have found that the Q, X and Z are the hardest. For the X, remember to look for railroad crossings because they usually say X-ing on them. If you get through the whole alphabet before you are out of the town do it again, or do it backwards even.
- The Quiet Game - My favorite game by far! We don't play this game until the kids really start getting agitated by being in the car or start fighting as siblings do. We see who can go the longest without making a sound, no laughing, no whistling, no talking. This normally results in the kids falling asleep for an hour or so and by then we are really close to where we were planning on being.
Our next road trip will be from our home in Spring Lake, North Carolina, 1/2 way across country to Sturgis, South Dakota. That is a 28 hour drive. With a 7, 6 and 5 year old and two parents in the car I have a feeling it will take more like 48 hours. Granted we are stopping in Iowa (16 hours away from NC) for the night but that still leaves a 16 hour drive and a 12 hour drive. I've got our kids' bags ready to be packed and the van all cleaned out. Now I just have to remember to pack all this fun to-do stuff and life in the van, for that long, should be closer to perfect.