Beating Road Trip Boredom: Entertaining the Kids

Photo By Luis Alves

It’s that time of year again when we start taking family trips. One major challenge though when it comes to driving long distances is keeping the kids entertained in the back seat.

We live several hours away from our family, so we end up spending quite a bit of time on the road when we go for a visit. Therefore, we’re always looking for new games and ideas to keep the kids from getting bored out of their minds.

I thought I’d share a few of the fun activities and games we’ve learned along the way.

  1. Sing-A-longs – Take a few fun CD’s to listen to and sing along with. People probably think we’re crazy sometimes, because we really get into singing and even a little dancing in the car.
  2. Scavenger Hunt/Car Bingo – Give each child a list of items to watch for while driving. You can also use car bingo cards to make it a little more exciting and challenging.
  3. “I’m Goin’ On a Trip” – Start this game out by saying, “I’m going on a trip and I’m bringing…” . The first person should name an item that starts with the letter “A”. After “A” , the next player will say the same thing but with the letter “B”, and so on. Since our kids are so young, we usually don’t do the letters. We just tell whatever we’re going to take.
  4. License Plate Game – In this game, you see how many different state license plates you can find.
  5. Books – This is still a favorite pass-time. I always take along a book for myself and a few books the kids like also. Another idea is to get a few read along CD and book sets for the kids.
  6. Electronic Games – My son loves to take his Leapster. You’ll probably want to get a headset or the repetition of the sounds may drive you up the wall. I like the games that come with the Leapster because they are educational and my son has learned a lot from playing them. Be sure to take extra batteries too.
  7. Counting Games – The object of this game is to count how many of any particular thing you see. For example, how many red cars, buses or billboards do you see?
  8. Alphabet Game – Find words beginning with “A”, on signs around you. Have the players take turns, after “A”, go to “B”, and so on. See if you an get to the end of the alphabet. This one gets really interesting when you get to the letter X.
  9. Videos – If you are fortunate enough to have a DVD player in the car (I’m not), choose a few movies or kid friendly shows to watch. A two hour movie will pass a whole lot of time away.
  10. Drawing boards – Magna doodle, Etcha Sketch, or a dry erase/chalk board are all great for writing, drawing and exploring their creative side.
  11. Tell Jokes – My husband is good at this one. I’m not so good. We’ve had tons of laughs over his jokes. So, if you’re good at it, give it a whirl. If not, stick to some of the above ideas. 😉

If you’re going on a trip soon, try out a few of these ideas and see what you think. The purpose of this article was to provide ways to keep kids entertained while on a long trip. Well, I have a little secret. A lot of these ideas will be fun for you too, or at least they are for me.

Do you have to take long road trips often? How do you keep the little ones, and yourself, entertained for the journey?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

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Posted on June 2nd, 2009 in Kids and Family | 12 Comments
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  • Those are great ideas!

  • zoe says:

    Wish I could find something that will work with 14 and 17 year old boys, other than shelling out the cash for a portable dvd player. We don’t make many long trips, but have an at least 3 hour one to do soon.

    zoe’s last blog post..Mom, I’m bored!

  • steadymom says:

    Our gang has just started getting into audio books, and it passes the time so well!


    steadymom’s last blog post..Let Your Children Watch More Television

  • Allison says:

    We have a LONG car trip ahead of us next month, so I will definitely be using these ideas! Thanks for sharing them and getting me thinking the car ride. Maybe I’ll be prepared!!

    Allison’s last blog post..Monday Mmmm…..Chocolate Gravy

  • Great games!! We like to play I spy, and you have to spy something and then who guesses correctly, spys something on and on. Its fun because as your driving you spy lots of different things.

    Jenna @ Newlyweds’s last blog post..30 day Shred day 14

  • Britt says:

    You know, we don’t watch TV – for many reasons…but that’s another post 😉 And we only allow our girls to watch 30 mins of a movie per day…they spend the rest of the time exploring, reading, doing puzzles…you know actually USING their brains rather than zoning out – which is also another post…lol.

    SO – in the car, I usually prepare a bag ‘o fun stuff. The girls have no idea what is in the bag until we’re all in the car ready to go. They have to reach into the bag, feel around, and choose ONE item to play with for 15-20 mins (this is the time that has worked for us)…this way the bag doesn’t get dumped out and the interest is lost quickly.

    I usually hit up the dollar store or collect things throughout the year to stick in this bag…so far so good 🙂

    Britt’s last blog post..Easy Meatballs

    • Amanda says:

      Great idea Britt! We gather a bag of stuff too, but like you mentioned, it usually gets dumped and interest is lost very quickly. I really like the idea of going to the dollar store and getting some new things for them to play with. Thanks for adding your ideas.

  • Heather says:

    Very helpful ideas! My toddler isn’t quite old enough for most of these yet, but I’ll certainly keep these in mind for later on. I remember spending many car trips playing “I’m going on a trip.”

  • Those are great ideas! We take road trips every year to Pennsylvania (a 12 hour ride). And with three boys under 12, that can seem like an eternity to be in a car! Lol.

    We do have a DVD player, which is good–off and on, but they get tired of watching movies. And we take a few play figures, a couple of MP3 players filled with kids praise and silly camp songs.

    They also each have a Nintendo DS, bought off Ebay when I could find a good deal. You have to pick the games carefully, but there are some fun ones–which the boys could play for hours (literally) on end if they aren’t given limits.

    Raise Them Up’s last blog post..Oh, But My Hair!

    • Amanda says:

      Wow! Twelve hours is a long road trip, especially with 3 young children. Thankfully, our trips have only been 4 to 5 hours long.

      I know what you mean about playing those games for hours. We have to put limits on our son’s game playing too. 🙂

  • carissa says:

    We have TWO giant road trips coming up this summer! Love your ideas Amanda!

    Glad to connect with you!

    Do you tweet?
    I’m @CarissaRogers See ya!

    carissa’s last blog post..Sunshine and Rainbows

  • abbie says:

    I hated car rides when I was a kid, and I still do because I get car-sick when I read for less than 3 minutes. (Even reading google maps to my husband is sometimes hard.) That meant I couldn’t do a lot. But I did like listening to music, looking out the window, sleeping and of course, eating snacks. Even now as an adult, I always take special car trip snacks which includes gummy bears.
    My son luckily doesn’t get car sick, but is too young to read so he loves watching DVDs.
    Great post! Abbie

    abbie’s last blog post..Put Off Procrastination!

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