Road Trip Diversions

You are getting to go on a road trip. 8, 10, 16 hours long and wondering what you can do to keep the little ones occupied? Here are tips from parents about how to fill the hours, and days, in the car.

Playing

I-Spy
"Playing I spy is also fun."

Old MacDonald had a farm
"she picks the animal and makes the noises, we all sing"

Find the...
"We name shapes, names or numbers and she has to find them in road signs or other other signs along the way). I also play a game where we make up stories. One of us starts, the next one adds a character or plot point, designs a costume, etc. She loves that one."

The ABC Game
My experience with car trips is the abc game

The License Plate Game
"The license plate game."

Creating

Invisible pen books
"there are many themed ones- Frozen,princesses, Cars, etc. that are fun"

Sticker Books
"Same type of book as above, but sticker ones where it is a puzzle and you have to put the picture together."

Photos
"On the electronic side (which i hate to resort to but I do when it gets desperate), our child likes to take pictures with our phone and there are "stickers" and other things to decorate and change the picture."

Paper pads and magic markers
"We try to pack paper pads with a few markers and pencils."
"I also used to get those Crayola mess-free marker sets that come with a coloring book. NOTE: keep these all a secret until you are in the car and driving, so it is fresh and new and very exciting for them! Have safe travels!"
"Our guys really like to draw.  On a long trip, I will always pack tablets andpens/pencils for them."

Watching

DVD/ iPad
"We used to get a ton of mileage out of the portable DVD player and iPad but the sudden onset of motion sickness around the age of 2 totally derailed that. If your kids don't get carsick, I'd highly recommend having it along for when all else fails."
"We also have shown an entire movie on our ipad before when stuck in traffic before also."
"I'm sure others will have lots of creative and educational ways of entertaining their kids in the car, but we just give in and go unlimited TV watching. I have a 5 and 2 year old myself and we drive to northern Michigan each summer (16 hours and we usually do it in one day) [...] They can either watch their own thing or the 2 players can be tethered together. It's not ideal and perhaps when they're older we will be able to have other activities for them to do, but my goal is for all of us to get to our destination with as little stress as possible. When dealing with 2 young kids in a car for an extended period of time, I go the path of least resistance!"
"Maybe a movie or two."
"We brought a wide range of movies that are age appropriate."

Video Games
"Mostly a tablet or video game system with a couple educational games."

Listening

Audio books
Audio books! my friend gave this suggestion and it is great.

Music
"Kids sing along music for the stereo (which you will hate by the time you get home)."
"older kids have own adapters to ensure iPhones and music to block out siblings (and parents) are functioning."

Sharing

Make memories
"It is kind of corny, but I’ll always try to point out things on the road/have a teaching moment about things that may have a historical or personal significance."

Surprising! 

"I’ll always go to Barnes & Noble a week or so before the trip and get each of our kids a book and some magazines for my wife, etc. and will wrap them individually and hide them onboard and then surprise them about half way through the trip to give them a little boost/freshen it up."

Eating and Snacking

Chewing Gum
"For the olderchild- chewing gum is magic!"

Stocked supplies
"Stocked cooler that has cold drinks and snacks to feed for two weeks."

When ordering
"Ensuring I get everyone's order correct at Dunkin Donuts is a must"

 Road trippin' toys

Sliding toys
"Another driving activity I tried when my son was about two, was to tie a string across the back seat from one side to the other on the coat hooks/handle and strung small toys and blocks so they would slide back and forth while driving,and he could reach and play with them. I think it ended up on the ground but definitely entertained for a while."

Books and games designed for road trips
"We picked up a fun game on the road that had pictures with little windows to close when you find the item along the way- street lamp, stop sign, tractor trailer, airplane, etc. is fun for everyone to play."
"Rush Hour Traffic Jam Puzzle"
"Any travel bingo matching games(Melissa and Doug make some)."

Other tips:

"Keep toys/bottles/wipesare all within reach to all."
"I have an extra large coffee to get me through the family bonding in the car..."
"Planned rest stop breaks are a must."
"The games and activities actually become quite funny if you leave up to the imagination of a 5 year old"
"Only because I’m nutty, I’ll make a spreadsheet that tracks mileage between segments(i.e. 99 miles from home to PA State Line, 150 miles to Charleston, etc.), that also has a rolling total of miles traveled and % of the trip for each segment.  Again, I’m nuts.  But it is a way for them to keep track of how far we’ve gone and to cut down on the asking of “how much farther?”

Further Reading on Park Slope Parents

Motion Sickness

Road trips and their discontents

Travel toys and activities (for the PLANE)