Anyone who has ever taken a car trip with a kid knows that after a while, everyone is ready to be done. Here are some ways to kill time in the car that my kids will vouch for:
Travel Scavenger Hunt for Kids – a card game for the car. Luke and Ellie like challenging each other to find the items listed on their cards before the other one. Most of the time, though, it becomes a family event.
“Mom, tell me if you see a fire hydrant.”
“Dad, I’m looking for a cow in a field. Does that horse count?”
“I see a green car! Awesome!”
Coloring Books – Of course, any kind of coloring book works, but I really like the selection from Dover Publishing. Their books are a great way to sneak a little education into a “fun” activity. This book about Historic American Landmarks would be a good way to get your kids excited about your destination. They also have coloring books dedicated to historical events and people, great pieces of art, and a variety of animals.
Colors – I love crayons as much as the next mom, but be sure to use colored pencils in the car. Trust me when I say that crayons can melt in a car parked in the sun in the summer. (Please don’t ask me how I know.) Don’t ruin your trip by having to deal with melted burnt sienna on the upholstery under the car seat. Colored pencils come in more colors now than they ever have before, and the don’t melt or break as easy as their waxy counterparts. Remember to stick a small pencil sharpener in a pencil bag so that your kids can keep on coloring.
The License Plate Game – another big hit in our family. The kids (and grownups) are on the lookout from cars from other states as we drive down the road. There is no need to buy a fancy game board unless you want to. You could simply print out the names of all 50 states on paper for each child so they can all have their own list going. Or, if you are looking for something a little fancier, there are free printables that you can find online.
DVD Players – We don’t let our kids watch a whole lot of TV at home, but we do let them watch in the car. We don’t have a car that has built-in screens, so these portable DVD players are a necessity. I understand that there are some stretches of road (especially those that we’ve driven often) that are just boring. I do insist that they unplug if we are somewhere new or scenic, but there are times that a movie helps the time pass. I will also mention that Matt and I often have our best uninterrupted conversations in the front seat of the car while the kids are watching a movie in the back.
What are your must-haves in the car to combat the long, boring miles?