However, just as certain as you’ll blow a tire, get car sick, and stay at more motels than you can count, your kids will need a little entertainment in the backseat. Here are a few ways to make your road trip a little less bumpy.
If you have ever ridden in a car for more than three hours, you’re probably well-acquainted with and an expert at the notorious road trip games, such as “I Spy” and counting license plates. Although parents may find farm after farm thrilling, fidgeting children may just have the tendency to moan, “Are we there yet?” Give them a little incentive to staying quiet with these unique games.
Scavenger Hunt: Come up with a list of random items for your kids to look for while on the road. Here are a few examples: bridge, cow, store, someone wearing a hat, lake or pond, tractor, bike, tall building, someone on their cell phone, motorcycle, etc.
The Car Next Door: Create stories about the passengers in the car next to yours. Where are they going on vacation? What could they do for work? What’s his or her favorite food? Are they afraid of the dark or heights? What is their favorite subject in school, and why? Be creative and include details such as their names, pets, and hobbies.
Buzz: You must take turns counting to one hundred without making a mistake. Every time someone says a number divisible by seven (such as 7, 14, 21) or that has a seven in it (27), say “Buzz” instead of the number. If someone forgets to say “Buzz,” you must start over. Try numbers divisible by five if this is too hard. A real challenge lies in the variation Fuzz Buzz. Say “Fuzz” for every number divisible by three or with a three in it, and then say “Buzz” for every number with a seven or that is divisible by seven.
Where Do You Hear This?: One person imitates a sound and everyone else tries to guess where people hear the sound. For instance, if someone makes the sound of a lawnmower, people could say “the backyard.” Think of as many unique sounds as you can.
What Would You Do?: Go around the car answering these hypothetical questions or invent some of your own!
- What do you want to be when you grow up, and why?
- If you could be the president of the United States, what would you do to make the country a better place?
- If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things (or people) would you want to have with you?
- Who would win in a fight between Superman and Spiderman?
- Create a holiday. What would the traditions be and why would you celebrate it?
- If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
- What’s the most important thing you’ve ever learned? How has it affected you?
Travel Activity Bag
Create travel activity bags for your kids by collecting the following items in a special backpack. Be sure to include lots of art supplies, books, and toys, but don’t pack anything that is too messy or able to get lost. These items may work best for you:
- An assortment of colored pipe cleaners for kids to make fun creations with
- A deck of cards, such as “Go Fish” or “Memory”
- A pad of paper, markers, and pencils to draw, write stories, and play games like hangman and tic-tac-toe
- A few action figures or dolls, chosen by your kids
- Kazoos or whistles for everyone—make some music on the road
- A few pages of stickers to make designs
- Yarn to play Cat’s Cradle
- Sculpting clay or dough
Many stores carry special road trip activity books or game packages. Here are a few that your kids may enjoy.
My Vacation Album
Encourage your kids to develop their artistic ability by giving them this kit. It includes a reusable camera, film, batteries, and a glue stick for fastening pictures into the album. This is a great way for them to create and cherish the memories made on their vacation. Find it at gibbssmith.com for $19.95.
You can find a variety of bingo sets at familyonboard.com. Categories include Auto & Traffic Safety Set, Hip Hugger Magnetic Car Bingo, and the popular Roadkill Bingo. Prices range from $5.00-$10.00.
Print car bingo games, good road trip songs, and coloring pages at momsminivan.com. There are also a lot of good ideas for taking children on long road trips.
Backseat Survival Kit
This kit comes with a 100-page game pad and a vinyl pouch full of everything kids need to complete the activities. It comes with a book, games, crafts, puzzles, mazes, and crosswords. Find it at klutz.com for $19.95.
“Travel With Kids” DVD Series
The “Travel With Kids” DVD series maps out the best of each fascinating destination and shows how families can make their trips entertaining and educational while introducing young adventurers to local customs, food, and breath-taking scenery. Order a DVD from one of many destinations at travelwithkidsdvds.com for $14.95.
Staying Healthy on the Road
It’s tempting to let yourself go while traveling. If you’re on vacation, chances are that your family will eat mostly at fast food restaurants, which may cause you to pack on the pounds. And if you’re stuck in the car all day (far away from your local gym), you may not be getting enough physical activity. Here are a few tips to staying healthy and active on the road.
- Skip appetizers. If you must indulge, try chips and salsa, lettuce wraps, or seafood cocktail. You might also try ordering an appetizer for your main course.
- Avoid drinking your calories. Restaurant food is already high enough in calories. The last think you need is an additional 250 to 650 calories in a sugary beverage.
- Order foods that have been grilled, roasted, baked, broiled, or stir-fried.
- Avoid menu items that use words like “fried,” “breaded,” “batter-dipped,” “buttery,” “creamed,” “sautéed,” “rich,” or “crispy.”
- Order gravy, salad dress, and rich sauces (such as béarnaise) on the side.
- Think simple. Often ordering a grilled piece of fish or chicken and a dinner salad is one of your best options.
- Don’t clean your plate. Restaurant portions tend to be large (except in expensive, five-star restaurants). Try splitting an entrée with a family member.
- Don’t overdo it at the salad bar. The salad bar is a healthful option at almost any restaurant. However, when you start adding eggs, cheese, nuts, beans, meats, and full-fat salad dressing, things start to add up—fast!
- Take a resistance tube with you. You can use a resistance tube to get a good workout in the convenience of your hotel room.
- Ask the hotel if they have a fitness center. Many hotels have a complimentary small fitness room with a few treadmills, bikes, and sometimes hand weights or strength machines. If a hotel offers this service, use it!
- Exaggerate everyday activities. If you don’t have the time to get a structured workout during your travels, then get all you can out of your typical everyday activities. For example, pull off at a road stop and play football or Frisbee with your kids. It will be a good way to stretch your legs and get your hearts pumping.