Traveling all day with kids in the car can be a real challenge. However, with the right preparation and activities, you can survive a road trip with kids.
Before setting out on a long car ride with kids, if possible, give them the opportunity to burn off some energy. Let them run and play outside or put on some music in the house and let them dance. If staying at a hotel and, weather permitting, allow them to spend some time in the pool. The idea is just to let them do some kind of activity that will get rid of some of their energy before spending hours in a car.
Once on the road, here are some suggestions to help keep kids occupied and happy.
Activities for Kids to Do in a Car
Have children pick out coloring pages from the Internet and print them out. Supply clipboards so children can attach the coloring pages to them. Give them washable crayons or erasable colored pencils. For kids who love to read, bring along some of their favorite books or surprise them with a few new ones. Sticker books can also be entertaining for kids. Also, consider Etch A Sketch.
Most kids love to build things. Bring along a bag of Legos or a magnetic building set. Kids can even be challenged as to who can build the wackiest building or make the silliest animal. Telling stories is a way children can pass time in the car. Have some story ideas on separate pieces of paper put aside in a small bag. Let kids take turns pulling out the story ideas and makeup stories to go along with them.
Games to Play on Car Rides
There are several portable games to keep kids busy in the car. Hasbro has a Fun on the Run series including Battleship, Candy Land, and Guess Who. There are also travel versions of I Spy, Scrabble, Yahtzee, and Backgammon. Car Bingo can be a lot of fun. The game can either be purchased or printable versions are available on the Internet.
DVDs, CDs, and Electronic Games for Children in the Car
Watching movies on a portable DVD player can help pass the time on a long car ride. For kids who like music, a portable CD player, some CDs, and some headphones can make them happy. Game systems like Nintendo DS and PSP’s tend to make the time go quickly for children.
Snacks for Children
Be sure to bring along some snacks for the kids. Try to avoid anything sticky or gooey as it could become smashed into the upholstery. Consider snacks like crackers, pretzels, or rice cakes as the crumbs can be easily vacuumed up later. Be sure to also bring along some cold drinks in a cooler.
Stops on Long Car Rides
Try to stop every 2 to 3 hours to let the kids out of the car to run around and play. If stopping at a rest stop, be sure to sunscreen if it’s a hot day. Many fast-food restaurants have play areas for kids which is great after being cooped up in the car for a while.
With the right games and activities, it is possible for both parents and kids to survive a long car ride.