Even the most patient parent may snap or become overwhelmed when they hear, “Are we there yet?” for the twentieth time. The biggest problem your child may have on a long road trip, as you may have guessed, is boredom. Kids have a very low level of patience, which adds to the problem.
In order to keep your sanity, you have to get creative. If you think of their interests and pack accordingly, your trip will be so much smoother and a lot more peaceful. Here are some activities that have helped keep my kid occupied on long road trips.
Drawing and Coloring
Coloring books may not work very well in the car, due to the lack of a hard surface to color on, but there are ways around that. Purchase a sketch or doodle pad that has stiff paper and a hard cardboard backing.
Take along pencils, crayons, and colored pencils in a small carrying case. This is one of my daughter’s favorite activities on a long road trip, but I do sometimes have to remind her that I cannot turn around to see her drawings until we have arrived at our destination.
Take along your child’s favorite CDs (be sure they are ones that won’t drive you crazy) and have a sing-a-long. Have a contest to see who can sing in the highest voice, the lowest voice, or the funniest voice. This is a very loud activity, but it may make the road trip seem much shorter for you and your child.
This may sound like an odd game, and honestly, it’s not even a game. This was something my brother and I did when we were young to pass the time on a road trip. This activity works well if you are going through a lot of towns or traveling through an urban area.
Have your children take turns (or you and your child if you only have one) ‘buying’ whatever building catches their fancy as they pass by. You have to say what you will use the house or building for, like a store of some sort or a summer home, and who would be there with them.
It’s a great activity on a road trip to get your children interested in the world around them, and helps to spark their imagination. You may learn a few things from you kids when you listen to their answers.
Playing ‘I Spy’ the traditional way can be a hard activity to play on a road trip because once you spy something it’s gone. You can put your own twist on this game by altering the rules a little.
Think of some things you are likely to see along your road trip route, and make some charts for your kids to use. Draw small pictures of each thing (white church, red barn, or green gas station) with a series of boxes after each picture. They simply put a check in a box each time they see an item on their chart. At the end of the trip, you can count how many of each thing they saw.
The Story That Never Ends
How long this activity will last on a road trip will depend on the ages of your children. The younger your children are, the less able they will be to keep up with you. Instead, do a bunch of shorter stories for this road trip activity.
You start the story with a short sentence or just a few words. The next person must repeat what you said and then add something of their own. The story will get longer, and more complicated, as you go.
Special toys, new toys, and comic books can also be great ideas if the games don’t get you very far. If you still find that you are short on patience, try pulling over at a rest stop and allow them to run around for a bit. You may even be surprised what they can come up with if you ask them to make up their own games.