“Are we there yet?” If you’re a parent, you’ve undoubtedly heard that phrase countless times in car. Yes, long and short road trips can test your patience, and your kids’, but there are tricks to making the time spent in the car fly by.
Start by planning things ahead of time to get creative with ways to keep the kids amused wherever the road leads. Take a look at these seven inexpensive and fun games and activities that will distract the kids while you’re en route:
- Alphabet Game
The Alphabet Game is a car classic. Players look for words beginning with each letter of the alphabet. If a player spots a sign with the words “Burger Lover,” the letters “B” or “L” can be used. The first player to get every letter of the alphabet in sequence wins. A fun twist on this game is to have the kids record each word and compose a story at the end. Another variation of the game is to play it in reverse
- I Spy
I Spy is another classic game that can keep kids occupied for quite a while. One player is designated as the “Spy.” This player carefully selects an object in sight and says: “I spy with my little eye something that starts with the letter, number…” The phrasing of the statement can change to “something blue” or “something that sounds like…” The player who answers correctly then becomes the “Spy.” The other players take turns trying to identify the object by asking questions about the object. Some popular questions include the following:
- Is it bigger than a football?
- Does it need batteries?
- Is it alive?
Bringing a cookie sheet along for the ride is a better idea than you might think – they conveniently fit in seat back pockets and can double as a lap tray, providing a surface for coloring, activity books and even Play-Doh. The metallic surface is great for fun magnets, including word magnets that the kids can compose poems and stories out of. Bonus: It also doubles as a great snack tray.
The license plate game involves spotting the different plates from all 50 states while you’re on the road – this can take a long time as Hawaii and Alaska plates are sometimes scarce in the lower 48. Players can work together in teams or compete against one another. To make things more interesting, you can encourage the kids to add the capitals to earn bonus points.
Geocaching (link opens in new tab) has become an increasingly popular activity – it’s like a modern-day treasure hunt. Participants use GPS technology to locate a hidden waterproof box in a specified area. These boxes contain logbooks to sign and sometimes contain toys or trinkets for trading. Letterboxing (link opens in new tab) is a similar activity that involves solving clues and puzzles to locate the box, which contains a stamp to mark in a personal notebook and a logbook to sign. These activities can take the family on an adventure and serve to break up a long road trip.
Get creative with road trip bingo. Parents can customize fun cards (link opens in new tab) out of cardboard and fill the bingo boxes with things you might see along the way or buy pre-made bingo cards. Pennies can be used as markers. Add some incentive to the game by offering small amounts of money or trinkets and toys for the winner of each round. The kids can collect their winnings at the end of the trip and use the money they win to buy small souvenirs.
One player picks an object or subject in their mind while others take turns asking 20 simple “yes” or “no” questions to reveal the answer. The trick is to be selective and strategic with the questions. Whoever guesses correctly gets to pick the object in the next round. If everyone is still stumped after their 20 questions are up, the player wins and gets to choose another object or subject.The next time you’re on a long road trip with the family, try out some of these activities to keep your kids entertained. This will make for a smooth ride for everyone and also help the time pass faster…and before you know it you’ll be at your destination.