If you’re the parent of a young child, you know how much energy they have. Keeping kids entertained on long road trips can pose a real challenge to parents but there’s no reason to cancel a vacation because you’re worried about keeping your child busy for hours on the road. These days, most kids end up falling
asleep, listening to music, or watching movies on their iPad after a half an hour on the road. If you’re looking for more creative ways to keep your kids from bouncing off the car walls, we’ve listed enough tips to keep kids entertained on road trips, whether you’re on the road for 2 hours or 12. Read on!
The Element of Surprise
Before you go, pick up a variety of small toys from the $1 section at Target or your local dollar store. Place the toys inside a clear bin with a flat lid that can double as a surface for play. Most importantly, don’t let your child pick out the toys that will spoil the surprise! In fact, you don’t have to reveal the existence of the box at all until you start driving. Include a mix of all kinds of toys geared towards both genders: action figures, a sealable plastic bag with a small LEGO set or individual LEGOs for creative building, and toys like Polly Pockets or small dolls.
If you’ve brought LEGOs along, you can have kids recreate landmarks you pass or are planning to see on your trip. The Empire State building, the Golden Gate Bridge, or their own interpretations of houses or office parks you’ve passed along the way are all excellent ideas and they give them a specific task to complete, avoiding boredom. Your kids won’t just be distracted, they’ll be entertained.
Being organized is key to keeping kids entertained on road trips. Alongside the aforementioned clear plastic bin of toys, be sure to include a water bottle and a package of (nonmessy!) snacks. Nutrition bars, pretzels, and yogurt are good ideas complicated, assembly required packaged foods are not. This will also prevent your kids from asking you to stop so they can order sugary fast food fare that will hype them up.
Make sure to take into consideration the time of your trip. If you’re going to be driving at night, glow sticks and bracelets are a great items to have on hand. The dollar store or a party center are great places to go for cheap options. Other things my kids love from the dollar store are tiny writing utensils, notepads, stickers, crayons, and other small things that are sure to help keep kids entertained.
Games on the Go
While lots of popular board games make miniscule versions for travel, one lost piece can render them useless. Instead, make your own scavenger hunt by giving each of your kids a disposable camera and assigning them the task of taking photos of the state welcome signs and other landmarks. Whoever finds
them all first, wins!
Bingo boards have few pieces sometimes we keep a stock of BIC four color pens on hand for times when we don’t want the kids to use markers in the car and allow kids to take turns being the caller. Competitive games keep kids focused, and can allow for prizes.
Tired of reaching around to the back seat to hand something to your child? Tie a loop of rope between the handle above the front passenger seat and the handle above your child’s seat, then tie a rope coming down from that rope and you’ve created a simple pulley system! You can avoid twisting around to give your child snacks, drinks or toys kept with you, by placing a bucket on your new pulley system.
With these tips, your kids can use their brains and enjoy the trip while you do the same. Turn “Are we there yet?” into “That was fast!”
Alicia Hagan lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two children and puppy. Alicia blogs at TheMommyInsider.com and is the founder of AtlantaMoms.com. A (quiet) pioneer in the online parenting/mom publishing industry, Alicia started her website in 2001 and her blog in 2006. On her blog readers will find stories about Alicia’s travels, her parenting journey, and car and gadget reviews.