I used to laugh when the kids on TV would get in the car then almost immediately ask, "Are we there yet?" I used to- now I totally sympathize with the parents. It can be quite frustrating when kids show little patience, however, it can be understandable (I'm ready to be at our destination too). How do you keep your kids busy in the car so they don't ask the dreaded question? And how do it without electronics?
1. Mad Libs
Mad Libs are pretty awesome. They are especially great once your kids understand what nouns and adverbs are but still doable without that knowledge. Take turns being the person who writes down all the nouns, verbs, and more then have fun laughing together! There is nothing like laughter to break the tension in the car. You can find free Mad-libs on Pinterest or head over to Amazon to grab a few books. Tired of Mad Libs? Try the Would You Rather Card game- it makes for some great conversations!
2. ABC Game
There are a couple of ways to play the ABC game. I grew up playing where each person had to find letters outside of the car for each letter of the alphabet in order (no using the same letter as the other people in the car). The first person to finish wins! For example, I see a billboard with the phrase, "Don't Drink and Drive" I shout out "D and E." You can also take turns finding objects that start with the letters so Mom finds an Arrow and daughter finds a Balloon, etc. Or you can just go through the alphabet saying words that begin with the next letter: Dad starts with Alligator, son says Baboon, daughters says Circus, etc. Try playing this version to a beat and if you skip a beat, that person is out. Either way you play, it's great practice and fun. Bonus: no supplies needed!
There are lots of fun ways to do this one as well. My favorite is when one person is the referee (great job for the driver). The referee chooses who is telling the story and when he has to stop. When the referee says "Stop" the storyteller must stop immediately- no finishing the sentence! The next person has to pick up right away. You can also play this game by saying one sentence only at a time and in alphabetical order. For example, Dad has to start with A- "Apple trees were blooming but the ogre wasn't happy." Mom has to do a sentence that starts with B- "Bananas made ogre happy, not apples." You can also try saying just one word and seeing where in the world the story goes. Tend to get stumped? Grab a stack of Disney Apple to Apple Cards. Pick cards and weave the characters, settings, and plots into the story as you go. You can make it more challenging by handing everyone 5 cards and seeing who can use up all their cards first.
4. Sing Songs
Choose silly songs, religious songs, songs from movies, or even play Name that Tune. Be sure it is a song that you can live with in your head for the rest of the day though! Camp style songs are great for car rides. Need some new tunes? Make a playlist using Amazon Prime Music and download them to your phone before you go.
5. Car Bingo
There are all kinds of these all over Pinterest, like this simple one. If you laminate the boards or put them in a plastic sleeve, you can use them over and over. Dry erase markers work best on these but any washable marker will do. This set of 4 Auto Bingo boards though are a favorite because you don't have to worry about loses markers- you slide the shutter cards over the space instead. They are really handy. The winner of the game gets to pick the radio station or be the first one out of the car at the next stop. You can adapt Bingo boards to fit any area you travel by broadening the definition, like instead of a fire truck, you can count any emergency vehicle. Try this really fun way to play Bingo too.
6. Find an Object
Pick an object that everyone understands and see who can find it first. The winner gets to pick the next object we find or if it's the last stretch, try giving out nickels and dimes to the winners. This game is really great if you need help spotting your hotel or a restaurant for lunch. You can also pick a general category like red cars and see who can find the most.
7. Share Some Jokes!
Laughter is the key to a successful road trip! Here's one of my favorite jokes from my daughters:
Yoo-hoo. Big summer blow-out.
Yep, it's from "Frozen." Here are some others:
How do you make a lemon drop? Hold it then let it go.
What person can jump higher than a house? Anyone! A house can't jump.
What's brown and sticky? A stick
What happens when you throw a green rock in a red sea? It gets wet.
What does a pirate pay for corn? A Bucc-an-eer
Why is it dangerous to tell jokes when you're skating? Because the ice might crack up
How do you get down from an elephant? You don't- you get down from a duck!
Looking for more jokes? This Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids book kept our family entertained for a while.
8. Sleeping Lions (aka The Quiet Game)
Pretending to be lions apparently makes this game lots more fun. The object of the game is to be last one to wake up. The parents can tell jokes or say, "Hey, look at that!" to try to get the lions to wake up. Making noise or opening your eyes disqualifies you, however, the eye part can be hard to enforce if you are the driver so try to get them to laugh!
9. I Spy
Don't you love games that don't require supplies? The down side? There really is only so many things that you can choose from that will still be there a moment later. When you start using things inside the car, not everyone can see it so that doesn't work great either. If you get creative though, it can be fun and it is good game especially for those quick trips.
Give everyone a map with landmarks circled so they know exactly where you are and how much further to go. This works well when we are driving across town too. Try the National Geographic Kids Ultimate US Road Trip Atlas- it has facts about every state and a map. Kids love knowing where they are going and the whole plan of how to get there. If I don't have the correct map- I give my sons a zoo map that I keep in the car. It occupies them while they plot out their next trip to the zoo or they pretend to see animals along the way. Try keeping one in your card.
With all the great adult coloring pages these days, coloring can keep your older kids happy for hours. These are my favorite LDS coloring pages but Amazon also has great adult books like Enchanted Forest. My kids love using colored pencils and gel pens.
Be sure to check this Road Trip Adventure in a Box from The Dating Divas too. It's full of more games and activities for traveling with the whole family or just you and your spouse.
And of course the best tip of all is making sure you are going someplace fun! Get Away Today has all kinds of great family friendly packages for you. They can help you get the best deal to have the most fun. Book your vacation through them today (use code SCRATCHNSNIFF for a discount on certain vacations).