Ahhhh summer. It’s finally here. The kids are out of school, the pools are open, and families begin to hit the open road. Are you one of the millions of families who will be road tripping this summer?
And as you prepare for this family road trip, are you beginning to question your sanity? Cursing that demon who temporarily possessed you and agreed to a twelve hour road trip with kids? Wondering how, or if, you will arrive with your sanity still partially intact?
Yep – whether you are driving four hours or fourteen, when you’ve got kids in tow, those hours can seem like an eternity, not to mention a true test of a parent’s sanity! How to arrive safe and sound, with your sanity mostly intact, and the kids – still alive – in the back seat, not really left curb-side along the way?
The key to a successful road trip – besides leaving the kids at home? Ensure you’ve packed entertainment for everyone. And to help you create your own version of road trip entertainment, here’s five of my family’s favorites road trip games and activities.
Five Favorite Road Trip Games and Activities
Yes, our road trip entertainment bag includes the “tried and true” stuff – new music, books, toys, video games, and DVDs, as well as a fully stocked back-seat refrigerator filled with favorite snacks and drinks. Well, ok, it’s not really a refrigerator, it just seems like it!
Eventually, all that stuff can get old, boring. Don’t let it! Mix it up, add something new and different, or a twist on a classic. It’ll help ensure your gang arrives safe and sound, sanity intact.
1. It’s A Family Sing Along!
Music is instrumental to road-trips. It can soothe the wild beast. It can pass the hours. And it can get old. So jazz it up. How? Mobile Karaoke, that’s how! Can’t carry a tune? No matter – no one but your family will hear you belting it out. Unless you open your car windows. But that’s up to you.
Car ride Karaoke is fun, and funny! You can use the car radio, or if you have a mobile device, either pre-load it with favorite songs or download a Karaoke app. Here’s three worth considering:
Don’t forget to pack a good set of headphones! You know, for those moments when you just need to tune out.
2. Unleash the Camera!
Put a twist on your travel photos and turn your car into a photography studio. All you need is a mobile device with a camera and a photography app or two. Or maybe four apps! Now smile for the camera. Then it’s off to the “digital studio” to create lots of interesting and funny images. Not to mention lots of giggles and laughs to go along with those images. Works every time for us
Inspire your budding photographer to create his own masterpiece with one of these fun and funky photography apps.
Don’t have a mobile device with a camera? That’s ok – a digital camera with play-back features will do. No photo-manipulation, but they’ll still have fun taking their own shots, and you’ll end up with some pretty cool photos to put in your trip album. Some of my best travel photos have come from a camera or smart phone turned over to the kids.
3. Make It A Mad Libs Family Story Hour
Mad-Libs Rule! And they can have your car rocking with laughter. Give everyone their own Mad Libs story book. Then sit back and listen as those creative juices start flowing! Finally, have everyone take turns reading their creations out loud. Yep, that car will be rocking with laughter in no time.
Not familiar with Mad Libs? Check out the Mad Libs website – I’m sure you’ll quickly see the benefits of a healthy round of Mad Libs competition. Have a mobile device? Check out the Mad Libs app. It’s free too! Can’t go wrong with that one.
4. Name That License Plate!
It’s an oldie but a goodie! All that’s needed is a keen eye, then throw in lots of imagination and create your own family’s version of the Licence Plate game. Set a time limit of about thirty minutes – too long and they’ll begin to lose interest.
- The Classic – It’s a race to see who can “get” the most different states’ plates as the cars fly by. Or as your car flies by them! Most different plates counted gets to choose the next game. Be honest now!
- The Letter Lingo – Twist it around with Licence Plate Lingo. Pick three letters from a passing car’s licence plate. Then everyone create a funny saying from those letters. Example: MGW … Most Goofy Wins!
- The Backwards Alphabet – Mix it up with the Alphabet game. But start backwards. With Z. Who ever gets to A first wins. Combine licence plates with billboards and road signs to see who can find all the letters of the alphabet first. No, you can’t use the letter your brother just called!
Modifying the classic Licence Plate game will keep it fresh and fun. Have a mobile device? Then check out the Licence Plate Game for iPhone.
5. More Rousing Rounds of Classic Car Games
Electronics lost their appeal? Play a round of classic car games! Hey, we survived those road trips of our youth without a single electronic device, right? And so will your kids. Here’s three more tried and true classic car games that are easy to play, and easily adapted to your own family’s idea of fun.
- I-Spy – No matter the age, this game can be fun. Hey, even our teenager takes on the challenge. His goal? To stump his little brother.
- 20 Questions – Animal, vegetable, or mineral? Each player picks his object, then the others get twenty questions to figure out what that object is.
- Slug A Bug – Oh I can feel the bruise now! But this road game always surfaces – and usually out of nowhere. See a Volkswagon, and be the first to call it out – don’t forget to say the color to earn the right of the slug. Race to see who gets five “bugs” first.
Yep, those classics are still around for a reason – they help pass the time, and they’re fun.
A Little Healthy Competition Goes A Long Way!
So what’s in it for everyone? The grand prize – bragging rights and first dibs on the snack bag! Keep a bag of handy “prizes” to toss at the winner. Tootsie rolls, quarters, licorice, fruit snacks. You get the idea. It will keep them vested and interested. And what sibling can’t resist the challenge of one-upping his brother at Mad Libs?
A Road Traveling Mom’s Tip
If you’ve spent any time traveling with kids, you’re sure to have heard this chant: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Each said five minutes after the last time, and with in increasing crescendo. How to put a squash to the chant? Pay them! Then take away a portion each time you hear, “Are we there yet?” Works like a charm!
The how-to: Give the child a bag of change. I use either nickels or dimes. Each time your child asks “Are we there yet,” he pays you one coin from the bag. Whatever is left at the end of the drive, is his to keep. I do allow one “free ask” an hour.
Road Tripping – It’s A Family Affair!
Road trip games are also a great way for the family to reconnect during that long drive. Nothing brings out family laughter more than silly games.
Play car games to pass the time and you’ll find you and your family creating memories that will last a life-time. Like the time my youngest called New Hampshire, New Hamster by mistake. Making memories are what family vacations are all about – and we still talk about New Hamster!
Are you hitting the road this summer? How do you keep your kids entertained? Do your kids create their own games to entertain themselves? Share with us in the Comments section below.
Enjoy summer, and enjoy the open road.
Images from Insanity- The Workout, Faces-In-Holes App, MadLibs, RichardMasoner via Flickr, Mr.Thomas via Flickr, and Are We There Yet via Zementa.