Although they know you’re traveling toward an exciting vacation, children typically don’t love long road trips. Ensure your time on the road goes as smoothly as possible by gathering an assortment of activities that will help pass the hours with ease. With a variety of games, surprises, and snacks, your family may discover that the journey is almost as entertaining and memorable as the actual destination.
1. Plan Stops. To make driving long distances a breeze, it will be easier on the children—and you—o build several pit stops into your route. Consider finding parks, kid-friendly historical sites or favorite chain restaurants where you can stop to recharge. Any location that will enable everyone to rest, get a snack, head to the restroom and step out of the car for a little while will take your mind off of the monotony of the road. You can also hold challenges for the children at each stop to see who can sprint across the parking lot the fastest or do the most jumping jacks in two minutes. These “competitions” may tire them out so they’ll nap on the next leg of the drive.
2. Listen Together. Before you leave home, load your tablet or phone up with a few audiobooks for children that you will also enjoy listening to as you drive. To ensure the speaking voice doesn’t simply lull everyone to sleep, pause the audio every so often to discuss what you’ve heard so far. To encourage the children to listen intently, ask questions such as what they would have done in one of the character’s positions or what they believe will happen next. If you don’t think they’ll be interested in a new book, you can also find fun podcasts that will keep them engaged.
3. Play Observation Games. When considering road trip games that children will enjoy, choose interactive ones that will allow everyone in the car to participate. Searching to see who can find the entire alphabet on the license plates of passing cars, billboards or road signs, for example, will keep everyone awake and alert on the drive. In addition, play a story-building game that begins with “Once upon a time…” and requires each person to add the next piece of the story featuring something he’s noticed on the drive such as a man on a motorcycle, a dog on a billboard or a red house visible from the road.
4. Educational Apps. If your children become easily engrossed in their tablets, download several educational applications that they can play while you drive. Children’s television stations such as PBS or Disney, for instance, offer free games that feature characters from their most popular shows to teach lessons on grammar, mathematics, colors, shapes and problem-solving. You can also add apps that will allow the kids to complete jigsaw puzzles, color pictures and draw without making a mess in the car.
5. Offer Treasures. Encourage your child’s best behavior on the road with the promise of choosing a wrapped gift from a treasure chest at various points along the drive. Fill a colorful box with small treats such as toy cars, crayons, and an activity tablet, magnetic games, board books or plastic puzzles or snack-sized packages of candy or trail mix, for instance. The idea of receiving a gift for behaving may keep the kids quiet as you drive, and they will also be occupied with their presents afterward to earn you some additional time in peace and quiet.
Whether you’re taking a road trip toward a vacation or a family function in another state, spending several hours with restless children in a car might not sound like an ideal situation. Dress comfortably, give yourself plenty of time, anticipating the grumpy and impatient moments and prepare activities to keep kids engaged, you’ll find yourselves bonding and arriving at your destination sooner than you think.