When you plan a big trip to go to the ocean, or a tourist town, or across the country to visit the in-laws, traveling with your family without driving yourself crazy can be very tricky sometimes.
If you want to keep everyone happy on that long ride, you will need to bring a variety of games and other things to keep them occupied. Smart phones and iPads or tablets will keep the kiddos happy for a long time, but what if you have no service and they get tired of those same old games that you just bought last week from the app store?
Games without Devices or Toys
When I was growing up, my siblings and I would try and see how many out of state license plates we could find. Of course, this only worked when there was a lot of traffic. If your kids are too little to read, they could look for different colored cars. Give yourself a time frame, and whoever finds the most wins.
You can also play “I Spy”. I’m sure everyone has heard of this game, but just in case you haven’t, you start out saying, “I spy, with my little eye, something (then name the color of what you are spying). Little ones need to know that this is something that won’t go away, lol. Whoever guesses first, gets to “Spy” something next.
A game that my daughter loves to play is “Would you Rather?”. This is played by someone asking two “Would you rather” questions, for instance, “Would you rather climb a tree all the way to the top, or walk a tight rope with no net?”.
My answer is usually “Neither”. The questions usually have something to do with danger, or something gross, so I’m not really a fan of the game, but I suppose it’s harmless as long as it doesn’t roll over to the “Truth or Dare” game. The kids have fun with it.
Games that Take Very Little Space
If you want to buy your kids something to play with, remember that you will be limited on space. You will need some games that take as little space as possible.
You could buy some art kits that let them keep everything in one container, or some cards that go back in a box when finished, or crayons with coloring books, or some of those magnetic boards with different type games.
I have to warn you though. There are a lot of pieces in those activities, so if your kids aren’t good at keeping things in order and in one place, guess what’s going to happen? That’s right, you will be picking up pieces and trying to make sure all the pieces go back into the boxes and containers without losing any of them. Who wants to do that after miles of driving?
If you have problems with messy children (raises hand), you could try finding some games and activities that don’t have quite so many pieces. For instance, instead of having an art kit, or crayons, try giving them a pencil with a word search book, or some other book that has a lot of activities in it, although, these type books may not keep them interested as long as the other activities previously mentioned.
If you have school aged kids, you can give them pen and paper and let them play hangman or tic tac toe. Another game we enjoyed was Pictionary. I never knew I was as good at drawing as I was, until I played that game. I kind of surprised myself.
Again with the devices. Honestly, I feel like electronics have been some of the greatest inventions for my kids and grandkids. There are a lot of mindless electronics that don’t teach the kids anything, but there are a lot that keep kids interested while teaching them at the same time.
It was a game where you slide a game card down into a slot, push a button on the top of the robot’s head, and it would help you add or subtract, or learn to read, or you could choose from a lot of other cards and games that came with it. It had a card with music and another with rhymes. It had enough to keep a kid busy all day.
These days, you can find electronic games for just about anything. It’s better to find a game that has multiple uses, so your little ones won’t get bored as quickly as something with just one use.
Traveling with Babies
If you have a toddler or infant along for the ride, things can get stressful really fast when you have an unhappy baby. If they have a full tummy and a clean diaper and don’t need a nap, then they may just be uncomfortable in the car seat, or the sun may be in their eyes.
If you can’t sit in back with baby to keep him or her happy, then you will need to find something that can hang over the carseat, if your baby is under a year old. It would probably be a good idea to have a few different kinds so your little one won’t get too bored with having just one.
You can also get little stuffed animals with noises inside that you can attach somewhere close. My daughter would buy the kind that attached to her baby’s arm, but would attach it to the car seat, or car seat hanging toy.
Watching Movies in the Car
If your baby is in a front facing car seat, you can invest in a portable DVD player that you can attach to the head rest on the seat in front of them. This is also good to have for any age kids.
They have double and single players. If you get a double player, make sure all the kids are happy with watching the same movies. If they don’t like watching the same things, then you can get single players and get them some headsets, so they’re not bothering eachother while they watch their favorite movies. (Of course, it goes without saying that the baby will get to watch his or hers without the headset.)
My husband and I used to rent movies and take them on trips with us, wherever we went. They were a life saver. Now, with Redbox rentals everywhere you go, you can rent a movie or two for the trip to where you’re going, then turn them in when you get there. Then you can rent some for on the way back and turn them in when you get back home.
Drive Safely and Have Fun
Whatever you do, make sure you diversify. Keeping the kids happy and entertained will be good for all of you on the long trip. If you’re not having to fight with kids all the way to your destination, you are more apt to drive safely, and isn’t that the most important thing?
Be sure to make everything fun for all. This is a vacation after all, so next to staying safe, having fun is next on the list. Even if it’s not a long trip, having something fun to do on your way is just as important as having fun while you are at your destination.
As always, if you have any suggestions or questions, leave them in the comments below.
Have a safe trip and have fun doing it!