Traveling with little ones can be a tiresome adventure. Not only do you have to pack and prepare them for the trip, but you also have to find creative ways to keep them busy while traveling. Of course, you can bring a portable DVD player and handheld gaming systems, but after a while, even those activities can become boring.
Before packing the car and heading out on the road, make a list of some game ideas you can play with the kids while traveling. If you are unsure of what type of games to play, ask some of your friends and family who also have small children. Chances are they know of some games that work well.
When looking for experts to help with planning travel games for kids, there are no experts more qualified to help with this task than parents themselves. Here are some top travel games parents have recently used during road trips:
Jennifer Reynolds says that when she and her kids, ages 11 and 13, travel, they play 20 Questions. During this game, she asks her children random questions about different topics, including space, math and earth science, to see if they can answer them. “They love it,” she said. “It makes them use their brain!”
She also added that depending upon how long of a drive they have, she should probably change the game’s name to “146 questions.”
Jim Walaitis recently turned a classic game into a new travel game his entire family loved. However, this game will only work if everyone in the family has a photo text-capable device. What he does is send a text to all of the kids with an item they need to find. The first one to text back with a picture of that item gets the point.
“Kids loved it so much that they kept up the challenges even after vacation ended,” he said about the success of his road trip game.
Priscilla Seger says they always like to play the Alphabet Game. In this game, she and her kids use billboards and highway signs to find words. Starting with the letter A, they look for words on these signs that begin with each letter of the alphabet in ABC order. Everyone has their own alphabet to get through and they must say the words out loud. The rules are bent a little for the letter X, which can be within the word, rather than just at the beginning.
Games for Little Ones
James Rand of the United Kingdom says that his girls are still little, so he has come up with a variety of games to keep their attention. One game he plays when they travel with his friend’s children is Tell Us a Story where the driver starts telling a story and everyone else in the car takes turns finishing it. He said the stories told are really funny.
“The girls are still little, so we have to play games that involve colors and numbers,” he added about the different games they play in the car. These types of games include everything from spotting yellow cars to the first person to count 10 red cars or 13 blue road signs.
License Plate Game
One great game that will keep kids busy and teach them about the different states is the License Plate Game. Preprinted games are available online through travel companies such as AAA or can be found at some rest stops along major highways. However, if you cannot find a game to purchase or print, you can easily make one yourself. This can be done by printing all of the 50 states on a sheet of paper and have the kids cross off each one as they find it. Or, make it a challenge by giving a point to the first person to yell out the plate’s state when they see it. Give bonus points for plates you will be less likely to find in your area of travel.
Keep kids busy in the back seat with several different games they can play on plain sheets of paper. Put together a clipboard with a stack of plain printer paper and several colored pencils. Not only can the kids draw on the paper, but they can also play different games against each other. Some games include Tic Tac Toe, Connect the Dots and Hangman. Preprint some sheets for Tic Tac Toe and Connect the Dots so they can start playing without having to draw the boards.
I’m Going on a Picnic
Similar to the alphabet game, I’m Going on a Picnic takes this game to a more creative level. The first person says “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing…” and he or she selects an item that begins with the letter A. The next person does the same thing but with the letter B, and so on through the rest of the alphabet. To make it more challenging, have each person recite all of the previous items mentioned, adding their item at the end.
Turn your kids into their very own cowculator with this fun game. Have your kids count how many cows they see and for every 10 cows spotted, someone in the car has to tell a cow-themed joke. If you run out of cow jokes, you can move onto any type of joke related to a farm.
Works of Art
Give your kids washable window markers so they can create their very own masterpieces on their windows. This is a fun activity that you can also turn into a exciting challenge. For example, ask the kids to draw the next animal they see while driving or to paint the landscape they see onto their window. Keep a cotton cloth on hand so you can wipe their window canvases clean at the next rest stop, getting it ready for their next work of art. Just make sure you do not block the driver’s view during this activity.
Related: Create DIY Road Trip Survival Packs
Help reduce the amount of whining and squabbling from the back seat by planning different games to keep the kids busy while traveling. All of the above listed games will help reduce the amount of times your hear “Are we there yet?” Make sure to join in on the road trip gaming fun. You too may be amazed by how much fun you have playing these games.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.