Whether you’re traveling to a relative’s home for the holidays or are enjoying a vacation, road trips are a great way to make memories. But when you are traveling with small children, they can also be a very frustrating experience. At Dudley DeBosier, we know how easily small children get bored or distracted, which is why we’ve put together this guide to help parents keep their kids entertained on long car trips so they can stay safe when navigating traffic-packed roads.
What to Pack
We recommend adding these items to your list when packing up the car for your trip.
- Kid-friendly books, activity sheets, or electronic devices such as tablets or portable DVD players.
- Portable chargers and/or batteries for any toys or electronic devices
- Healthy snacks such as baby carrots or crackers
- A garbage bag to clean up any messes
- Paper towels and wet wipes or hand sanitizer
- A lap desk—cookie sheets make a cheap and easy alternative
- Toys—avoid toys that are small enough to get lost underneath the seats
- A pillow for when your kids get tired
- A disposable camera, which kids can use to entertain themselves taking pictures
Our Tips for Roadtripping with Children
These methods have been tested and approved by parents in the Dudley DeBosier team.
- Allow each child to choose for themselves what toy or book they’d like to bring when packing.
- Always doublecheck that car seats are properly secured and children correctly strapped in. A 2015 study found only 5% of parents make no mistakes when installing car seats, and a determined child may be able to escape their seat if they are not restrained correctly.
- Consider having one parent sit in the back of your vehicle to allow more facetime with your children on long trips—you may find it helps reduce crankiness!
- If your child is prone to motion sickness, try bringing kid-friendly audiobooks instead of paper books or electronic devices. Make a visit to the library ahead of time to check-out audiobooks for free.
- Plan plenty of bathroom breaks, even if it delays your arrival time, and always remember to plan for a bathroom break shortly after a meal break.
- Try making “snack jewelry” ahead of time using a piece of string and adding cheerios, pretzels, and other fun and easy to eat snacks that kids can munch on in the car.
- Give your kids something to look forward to by handing out a new snack or toy every hour. This also helps prevent them getting bored of what they brought too early.
- Make a “trip tracker” by printing out a map of your route and giving your kids stickers to mark their progress as you get closer to your destination. This also prevents the dreaded, “are we there yet?”
Games You Can Play Without Paper or Pens
When you don’t have toys or activity books, or when your kids lose interest, these games can save the day.
One player thinks up a person, animal, or object, but does not tell the other players what it is. The other players have to try to guess what it is, but they can only ask yes-or-no questions, such as “Is it bigger than the car?”, “Is it yellow?”, and so on. The goal is to try to guess what the mystery object is within 20 questions.
Guess the Word
One player traces a short word on a body part of the person sitting next to them, such as on an arm, using only their finger, and that player must guess what the word is.
The Alphabet Game
Each player competes to find every letter of the alphabet using only road signs and billboards. However, they must find the letters in order. For example, a player can’t look for the letter ”b” until they’ve found the letter ”a”. Players looking for the same letter also cannot use the same sign. For example, if both players need the letter “x”, and both see a sign that says “exit”, only the player who saw the sign first can move onto the next letter, while the other player must wait for another “x”. The first player to spot every letter of the alphabet wins.
License Plate Abbreviations
Players use their imagination to come up with ideas of what the random letters on license plates they pass stand for. For example, a license plate that has “LEP” on it might stand for “Let’s eat pizza”. Whichever player comes up with the silliest or best answer wins.
Players agree on a category (ex: food, animals, cartoon characters, etc.) and then take turns coming up with one answer for each letter of the alphabet that fits that category. For example, if the category is animals, answers might be antelope, baboon, cat, and so on.
The Picnic Game
Players take turns describing what food items they are bringing to a picnic, with each player adding one additional item. Each item must start with the next letter of the alphabet. The goal is to remember the entire list, starting from the first item, until you reach the end of the alphabet. For example, the first player must remember “apples”, the second player must remember “apples and bananas”, the third player must remember “apples, bananas, and cake”, and so on.
A, My Name is Anne
Players take turns moving through the alphabet and filling in the phrases, “My name is”, “I come from”, and “I have a suitcase full of” with words that start with that each letter of the alphabet. For example, the first player might say, “My name is Arnold, I come from Alaska, and I have a suitcase full of apples,” while the second player might say, “My name is Beth, I come from Brazil, and I have a suitcase full of bananas.”
Players take turns telling a story, one sentence at a time and one sentence per person until every player has had a turn. Then it’s the first player’s turn again. Players have to use their imagination when other players start to steer the story in new directions.
The Counting Game
The first player starts the game by saying “one,” and then another player must say “two” and another “three” and so on until they reach twenty. However, players can respond in any order but if two players respond at the same time, the game must start over at one. The game also starts over if more than five seconds go by without anyone responding.
Download Our Free Activity Book
If you are looking for more ways to keep your kids entertained in the car, check out our free downloadable activity book! We’ve put together several fun activities to keep your kids entertained on your next car trip, including:
- Coloring pages
- Word searches
- Mad libs
Before your trip, simply download this book and print it out.
After a Car Accident, Call Dudley DeBosier
Car accidents have the potential to be devastating, especially when they leave you or a loved one injured. If you or someone you love have recently been involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you need to call the team at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers. We know what it takes to make insurance companies back down when they try to reduce or deny claims of injury victims. And when you call us, your consultation is always free.
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