No matter where you are planning on vacationing a long drive with children in the car may seem daunting. Something neither parents nor kids typically look forward to, this time could easily be transformed into an excellent way to bond with your children and have them learn new skills. Keeping your children entertained along the way will require some foreplanning and a great deal of supplies. We have compiled our favorite ways to keep children busy and entertained.
Storage, Storage, Storage
A big key, maybe the most important, is to keep your car organized. Having to pull over to grab an item out of the trunk will slow you down considerably and make the ride less enjoyable for everyone. Adding their name to the unit will also give them a sense of pride and push them to keep it tidy and clean. This can also prevent fights amongst multiple children.
Being able to quickly grab something while on the road will keep your kids entertained and allow you to be more efficient. A behind the seat storage unit is worth it’s weight in gold. Having all of the things you need for your child in one easy to find place will save you the headache of being the entertainer. This will act as their room and place where many of their toys are for them to choose from. It will also drastically reduce cleanup time when the trip is done.
Things you should pack for the trip:
- Spill proof bottles
- Water or juice
- Wet wipes
- Coloring book
- Art book
No matter which highway you are travelling on there will be rest stops along the way. These have full bathrooms, usually with changing tables, and a piece of grass and are usually thoughtfully spaced out. We highly recommend making the most of these areas.
Being able to stretch your legs and let your kids run around for even 15 minutes will make them happy. Do your kids like sports? Pack a baseball glove and play catch while the others go to the bathroom. Spend this time focusing on your children as you can’t while you drive.
As a bonus, entertain your dog on this trip as well by taking the family on a couple loop walk around the area. Using this time to grab some treats and teach your pup a new trick will be fun for the whole family.
There are games that require no props or books. These games will get your kids using their minds and focused on outside – which is good if they easily get car sick.
The Letter game involves being able to recognize letters so is designed for slightly older kids. Starting with the letter “A” look at signs that have words that contain that letter. If you find one, shout out the letter and word. Only one person can use a sign and only say one letter. This will get your children on their toes and reading every sign they see.
20 Questions is one of the classic car games. It doesn’t require signs or even to look outside – perfect for streets in remote areas. All you need to do is think of a person, place or thing and get your kids to guess what you have in your mind. If they can do so with only using 20 questions, they win. The younger your children, the more questions you can allow them to ask.
I spy is also another good way to pass the time while getting younger children to use their mind. It is harder to play while driving, but include objects that are inside the car or don’t pass by quickly. Just find an object and get your children to guess what you see. This game can die down quickly, but it’s a good way to get them to focus on you for the time being.
Self started entertainment
Sometimes you will not be available to entertain your child with different games that you can play as a family. Having some resources in the car to let your child do on their own are the best. Of course, it isn’t always practical as some children are prone to car sickness.
We recommend taking a bathroom organizer and refunctioning it to act as your kids toy chest. Filling it with crayons, a book, some word scramblers, some snacks and a few activity books.
Keeping a large cookie sheet in the car and some parchment paper will also help entertain your children. Easy to clean, this surface is great for building lego, moulding silly putty or even creating art.
This is also a great time to utilize getting your kids ahead at school, without them even knowing. If your kids are not as enthusiastic about school, this may be a great low pressure way to get them more excited about it. For young kids simply keep a tally of how many white horses you see along your drive. For older kids, invite them to practice their writing skills by writing a story of everything they do and see for the trip.
For those creative parents, making a few fun homemade activity books will go a long way. Try incorporating a seek and find style activity which will force your kid to constantly be observing their surroundings. A simple bingo sheet of different car makes will keep your child entertained for a while searching for that “red chrysler” to complete their bingo line.
For those with less time, a strategically picked book can keep your child entertained for a while. Where’s waldo or a book where they need to find a certain item or person will not only keep them quiet, but also using their brain.
Turning to electronic help
We know you don’t want to just plop your younging in front of a screen for easy entertainment. But, after hours spent in the car, it is a sure fire way to get their spirits lifted. This can be used as a reward and incentive for good behaviour or completed tasks. Loading their favorite shows on your smartphone is a great backup plan. Netflix has a new feature that allows you to download shows and save them for offline use.
Attach your phone to the back side of your headrest. This will allow your child to watch shows without having to hold the phone. This way you can put a show on without worrying about which apps or settings they are playing with. This will also make it so that the phone isn’t dropped.
Pro tip: Add a movie that you want to watch as well. This way when nap time comes you can be entertained as well.
Road trips take a lot of planning to make everyone happy. Especially ones that last for hours, keeping your kids entertained will leave you with the time to focus on the road. We always recommend utilizing the power of music. Some great sing alongs to get the mood going as well as some calm sleepy music will help set the mood for nap time. Using the tips in this article you will be more prepared to keep your children entertained than ever before.
Taken your kids on a road trip? What tools worked for you to keep them entertained? Share them in the comment section below.