Road Trip Road Map: Making Travel Fun
Tear them away from their screens for a while with these activities.
Most of us dread traveling with kids. Traffic, layovers, delays, and just plain long trips can leave the most mature of us cranky, so it’s not surprising our younger passengers get antsy almost instantly. Thankfully, a few planned activities and a bag of tricks can keep everyone entertained all the way there and back home again.
Best for car or train rides, this game keeps kids alert and busy as they scan the world outside for items on their BINGO boards. Make boards by hand with a marker and white paper, or get creative on the computer before the trip by using photos or clip art for little ones who can’t yet read. Hand out stickers to cover spaces that have been found, and the first to BINGO wins.
License Plate ABCs
Try to build the alphabet using just the license plates whizzing by on the freeway. Kids (and parents!) can scream out letters as they see them, allowing the family to work as a team.
Give each participant a blank scrap of paper and pencil, then pick a theme. Car-bound families may want to do car colors; those on a plane, shirt colors. Each player picks their color, then goes on a mad dash counting the items they see, tallying as they go to avoid losing count. After a set amount of time, compare and see who wins the search.
The Alphabet Game
Another great one for kids learning their letter sounds – look for items that begin with A, then B, then C, and so on. The game can be a team effort, or someone can take the right-side of the car, someone the left-side, and make it a battle all the way to Z.
A classic you probably played as a kid – and experience even as an adult. Also called Whisper Down the Lane, whoever is “it” turns to the next player and whispers a statement in their ear. The second player then turns and whispers it to whoever is next, and so on. The final player must say the now-jumbled sentence out loud, and then wait for the laughter to stop to learn the initial statement.
Pick someone to be “it” and have them start humming a song – it could be a theme song, a popular tune from the radio, or a classic rhyme. The rest of the family takes turns shouting out guesses until the song is named correctly.
Going on a Picnic
How good is your memory? And how big is your picnic basket? In this game players take turns announcing they are going on a picnic and bringing a particular item. The next player must bring the previous player’s item, as well as a new one. As the game continues, the list gets longer.
The first player thinks of a person, place, or thing, and the rest of the travellers have 20 chances to ask yes or no questions and guess it correctly. For extra laughs, bring a pack of sticky notes and place ones scribbled with famous pop stars, zoo animals, or family members on the foreheads of your kids, flipping the game and making them guess who they are.
Three Truths and a Lie
Great — or maybe dangerous — for older kids. Take turns presenting two true facts and one made-up one to the rest of your travelling companions, making them guess the lie. How well do you know your kids?
The Movie Game
The first player selects a famous actor or actress and says their name aloud. The next player now has to say a movie that they were in. The next player has to come up with another actor or actress from that movie, and the game continues on. Mess up, and you’re out until the next round.
Get Packing: Must-Haves for a Smooth Trip
Toothbrushes and underwear aside, a bag of entertainment for a trip can be the most important item you pack. We love these local finds for an extra stash of go-to fun.
eeBoo Tell Me A Story Cards
Telling each other stories is an age-old way to pass the time, but some kids may need help getting a tall tale started. Shuffle up these picture cards depicting a theme like robots or forest friends, pluck a few from the pile, and use your draw to create a story. Or take turns picking the top card from the pile, working together to weave a tale together. Available at Learning Express, 1301 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell.
Meffert’s Gear Ball
The Rubik’s cube gets a modern make-over in this spherical version where interlocking gears on three axis must be twisted and turned to get each side a solid color. Great for singular play, or take turns. Available at Momo’s Treehouse, 205 Arch St., Philadelphia.
Melissa & Doug Water Wow
Kids can get artistic even when sitting on your freshly detailed leather seats. With the Water Wow line of coloring books, an included paint brush is simply filled with water, then brushed over specially made pages to bring the colors to life. Even better: Once the page dries, it’s ready to be colored all over again. Available at The Happy Hippo Toys, 201 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, New Jersey.
Photograph by Ann Marie Detavernier