I have 3 kids, and I have to be honest, road tripping with them is not the most enjoyable time in the world. They might sleep for a little while, but then they wake up and they’re hungry, or one has to go to the bathroom, or they’re bored and start screaming for attention. If your kids are at all the same way, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with the hunger or bathroom issues, but I’m here to help with the boredom. The best part of a road trip is that you actually have time to spend with your kids. Sometimes it’s not the best time, but you can make it fun. I’ve found these 8 easy car games to be fun, simple, and vastly entertaining for kids and parents alike!
1.) Scavenger Hunts
For them: Before you leave for your trip, prepare of list of common items that you might see along the highway. Write them out with check boxes next to them, and have your kids play a scavenger hunt. Tell them to keep a lookout for all of these items and check them off as they see them. The first person to check all of their items off will receive a small prize (that way they stay engaged in the game). Examples of some items to add to your scavenger hunt list might include mile markers, a blue car, a piece of a tire on the side of the road, a farm fence, a rest area…the possibilities are endless, really. Get specific with some of them – get your kids really searching!
For you: Help your kids spot the items you know are on your lists. If you see something that they don’t, without giving it away, let them know you see something. Hint around at it. It will make the kids think and you will probably get a laugh out of watching your kids try to figure out what it is you’re looking at.
2.) Backseat Activity Kits
For them: These literally contain just about everything to keep your kids entertained in the backseat. You can buy kits that include coloring books and crayons, small embroidery or friendship bracelet kits for the girls, action figures for your boys, anything, really. The beauty is that each kid can have their own backseat activity kit based on what they like to do. This is for the quiet “alone time” part of the road trip, when you (and probably your kids, too) all need a break from the noise and each other. If the kids want to play with each others’ activity kits, that would be a great opportunity for them to share and interact and play with each other.
For you: For the most part these kits are relatively inexpensive, and as I mentioned, when you just need a break from all the noise, you can hand one of these personal backseat kits to your kids and get some peace and quiet for yourself. Or if you want to interact, color with them. Get your own activity kit and participate with your kids.
3.) Small Arts and Crafts
For them: As mentioned before, you can buy pre-packaged kits of arts and crafts for the kids, or you can just pack your own. Let your kids’ imagination run wild. Pack things like string, pom poms, beads, small pieces of fabric, colorful pipe cleaners, lanyards, even gear to make small jewelery or keychains. All you need is a small thing of glue (get the kind that is washable, so if it gets on the car seats, it’s not a problem) and some craft ideas.
For you: It’s easy to keep all of these things stored in the car for this road trip and any future trips you might take. Purchase a small storage container to keep in the trunk of your car or van, so it’s always there and ready to pull out at any time. Make sure the kids know, though, that the car craft box is only for the car! That way they’ll have something to look forward to doing while traveling in the car.
4.) The Memory Alphabet Game
For them: Make your kids think while they travel! Start by saying, “I’m going to the grocery store and I’m going to buy…” One child thinks of the first thing to buy that starts with the letter “A.” Say they choose “apples.” The second child repeats the whole thing, “I’m going to the grocery store and I’m going to buy apples…” and then they choose something that starts with a “B.” Let’s use bananas. The third child then has to repeat, “I’m going to the grocery store and I’m going to buy apples, bananas, and…” something with the letter “C,” and so on. Go through the entire alphabet like this. If someone forgets an item, they are out of the game. The last child (or parent) standing receives a small prize. This is a great game for memory, learning the alphabet, and listening.
For you: This one’s easy to take part in! Even the driver can participate. It’s all about listening and remembering. Have some fun by trying to throw your kids off with difficult items to remember. Or change up the sentence to say, “I’m going to the beach and I’m going to bring…” and play that way.
5.) Once Upon A Time…
For them: Kids love to hear stories, especially ones that get extra silly as they go. Start by using a sentence like, “Once upon a time, there was an evil king…” One child will make up the next sentence, continuing the story, then the next child makes up another, and so on and so forth. You’ll end up coming up with a ridiculously fun story, because you never know where your kids will take your story!
For you: Again, this is another one that’s easy to participate in. Just add your sentence when it’s your turn! You can be in charge of the story taking twists and turns to keep the kids entertained. The story ends whenever you make it end. You’ll be surprised with the story your kids will “write!”
6.) The Family Quiz
For them: The best part of this game is that whoever wins gets to pick where the family eats dinner that night. Here’s how you play: You’ll have to come up with some trivia questions about your family – that could be your immediate family (like, “How old is your brother?” or “When is Daddy’s birthday?”) or even your extended family (like, “What is Grandma’s first name?” or “What city do Grandma and Grandpa live in?”). The first person to give you the correct answer gets a point. The child with the most points when you run out of questions gets to pick where you’re having dinner!
For you: This is a great way to teach your kids about your family! If they can’t come up with the correct answer, just tell them, and no one gets the point for that question. It will make you think to come up with good questions, and your kids will have a chance to learn some new things about your family that they might not (but probably should) already know!
7.) Cow Cemetery
For them: This game is similar to the scavenger hunt game mentioned before, but strictly with cows! Have your kids count all the cows they can find during the road trip. If you pass a cemetery, all of the kids’ counts start over. The person who counts the most cows at the end of the road trip wins!
For you: This will literally keep your kids occupied for hours! It’s the perfect game to play if you know you’re going to be traveling somewhere that you’ll pass a lot of farms or open land to get to. You’ll get a good laugh, too, if you pass a large farm with a ton of cows, while your kids try frantically to count as many as they can as quickly as they can!
8.) Map Monitors
For them: Map Monitors will allow your children to actually get involved in your trip. Print out or draw maps of your road trip for each child before you leave, and be sure to include big cities, towns or attractions that you know there will be signs for as you drive. Your children will have to pay attention to where you are and what you’re passing, and they can mark off all the places you’ve gone through with stickers or crayons. At the end of the trip, they’ll have a document that tracks how far they’ve traveled with you with lots of colors and designs!
For you: You can even challenge your kids by throwing on some destinations that you’re sure you’ll pass, but won’t be as obviously noticed as others. Make it into a contest. The child with the most locations marked off on their map at the end of the road trip wins a prize! Your kids will be happy to be involved in the trip, and you’ll be happy that they’re learning about where they are and where they’re going along the way!
Next time you’re traveling with your kids, pull out a few of these ideas and give them a try. I guarantee you won’t be bored any more! And you’ll be able to really take advantage of the time you have with your kids when you’re in the car together. It’s a win-win, depending on the game you pick, you could have the peace and quiet you’re looking for, and your kids will be eased of their boredom!