Are we there yet? 20 activities for a road trip

It feels like I have been gone a long time, and somewhat I have.  I just returned from an over 3400 mile road trip with my little family of five.  It was very long and wonderful!  We traveled from Pittsburgh to Nova Scotia and Price Edward Island.

I was very anxious to take such a long trip with three small children under 7.  I tend to over prepare for some things in my life and having activities for my kids when we travel is one of them.  I definitely over prepared!  Despite being in the car for literally days at a time, we didn't do half the things I had planned and prepared for.

I had 20 different activities I prepared and planned for the kids to do.

1. Play Bingo.  I printed Bingo cards at housing a forest.  She laminated hers, but I didn't have a laminator so I put mine in page protectors.  I think next time I will put them in hard laminated sheets that are really durable so that they are easy to manipulate and use.

2.  Journal writing/drawing.  I got my kids their own journals for the trip and packed some tape too.  My idea was to have them write daily about the things they saw and collect things on the way to tape into the journal and explain about.  We failed never doing this activity once.  I think my kids are a bit small for it and it is hard to help them in the car.  I do think this would be a wonderful activity for older kids to engage in.

3.  Sticker books.  This was probably the biggest hit with my kids.  I bought my son a Lego Star Wars sticker book and my daughters some cheaper ones.  The older two used the Lego book almost the entire trip.  My seven year old read the pages to my son and together they discussed much about the stickers and the Star Wars story.

4.  Homework pages.  Wish my daughter would have worked on these more.  She was doing good at the first of the summer learning, reading, and doing summer work, but she got tired of it and refuses to work more.  I was fine with it for the trip, but now that we are back home I am going to get her started again.

5.  Play Virtual Hide and Seek.  This is a game where kids have to imagine they are back home.  They can be as small as they want since it is pretend.  They pick a spot in the house where they are hiding.  Anywhere from laying in the silverware drawer near the spoons to hiding in a shoe in the closet.  The child thinks of where they are hiding and then others get to ask questions to guess where they are.  Are you in the kitchen?  Are you near the sink?  Are you under the sink?  etc.

6.  Play mystery letters on palms.  This game is done with two players.  One puts his or her hand out palm up and looks away.  The other draws a letter on the hand and then the first player tries to guess what letter was written.  This caused fighting in my car, but I think I would have had fun doing it with the kids if I had been able to sit closer to them.

7.  Play the Alphabet game.  This is a classic.  If you haven't heard of it, what you do is go through the alphabet one letter at a time finding words on signs outside the car that start with the letter you are on.  The goal is to get through the alphabet the fastest.  This can be a challenge when one gets to letters like Z or X.

8.  Play Counting Cows.  This is another fun game to be played with the whole car.  The object is to count the cows you see on the trip on your side of the car.  If you see a cemetery on the opposite side of the car from you, you yell, "Dead cows" and the players on the side where the cemetery was has to start counting again.  Be sure to pick an end location before you begin.   This is a great way to get kids looking outside the window and seeing the beauty out there.  We forgot to play this.  I am going to try it next time for sure.

9.  Make aluminum foil art sculptures.  Again this is a great activity, but one we didn't do.  I had the foil all ready and never pulled it out.  I wonder what the kids would have come up with.

10. Eye spy bottles or bags.  I bought an eye spy bag.  It wasn't as popular with my kids as I imagined.  I have seen people make them and maybe that would make it more fun for my kids than the one I bought.  It may just be that all the other activities were just better suited to my kids.

11.  Blow bubbles.  I had this on my list, but forgot to pack the bubbles.  I was thinking little tiny bubbles you can buy in the wedding decor area of the dollar store would be fun for the kids and if they spilled it wouldn't be a ton of bubbles to mop up.

12.  Make pipe cleaner art.  This was another winner with my kids.  I packed pipe cleaner from the dollar store and when the kids got cranky I whipped it out.  They loved making glasses and other things to wear.  My baby liked just feeling the fuzzy pipe and twisting it around.

13.  Do dry erase games.  I bought a few maze and hidden picture books and put them in page protectors so they could be used over and over again.  I also brought a small dry erase board with me.  I bought dry erase markers with an eraser built in so the kids could erase on their own.

14.  Bendaroos on the windows.  My daughter was obsessed with bendaroos a few Christmases ago.  It had been a long time since we took them out and the liked sticking them to the windows and making pictures.

15.  Watch a movie.  I have to admit.  This was the number one activity for my kids.  I was enjoying the time with my husband listening to pod casts and audio books and my two year old became obsessed with Cinderella and wanted it on at every given moment.  We got to the point that we didn't care if she watched television the entire time.  I feel guilty that I let my kids watch so much and I am sure that guilt is more from what others would think about me for it.  Really, in reality wouldn't our parents have died for a television in the car for long road trips when we were kids?  I remember my dad making a bed in the back of the car and us having freedom to play and move around in the back.  Now kids need to and should sit in a seat belt the entire time.  Why not let them love the television a little on such long trips?

16. Magnetic travel games -- we bought a connect 4 game.  They had all sorts at the store.  In the end my kids fought with this game and then lost all the pieces even though they were magnetic.  I wouldn't suggest this for the next time unless you have older more responsible children.

17. Do brain quest questions.  I bought each of my kids these brain quest type flash cards.  My oldest liked doing them.  She is always one to enjoy a little trivia.  My younger kids needed me to make these work so I would only buy them if you are able to sit near your children.

18. Make and play with a cootie catcher.  This was another hit in my car.  I made my cootie catcher with questions to ask instead of the normal fortunes.  My questions were things like: What do you want to be when you grow up and why?  What do you think parents don't understand about kids and why?  If you could have anything you wanted what would it be.  It is fun to find out what your kids will say to these things.  Don't know what a cootie catcher is?  It is an oragami made game that can be made in any way you wish.  Here is a you-tube tutorial if you are so inclined.

19.  Electronic games like gameboys, or leapster pads.  Again another hit in my car and again another electric outlet for kids.  We have leapsters and they do teach the kids so I don't mind it so much, but gameboys and devices like those are certainly fun for kids too and if you can limit the time on them they aren't a sin.  No?

20.  Music or audio books.  My kids loves some of the music we had for them especially musicals.  I wanted to do audio books, but my husband needed to enjoy his time too so it wasn't an option to listen to a kids book.  I think listening to a great book like Harry Potter, or Anne Of Green Gables would be really fun to do as a family.

What are some of the things you do to entertain on long trips?

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  1. Love all your ideas, you really are brave going on such a long trip! And I must say it's better to be over prepared than under prepared even if it takes up a ton of room in the car to pack the stuff ;)

  2. I tend to over prepare too-but isn't that better than the latter? And no guilt from me on movie time! Honestly where would we be without it? I'd be locked up somewhere ;) I love the idea of putting the mazes and hidden pictures in sheet protectors to be used over-awesome idea! The biggest hit with my kids are their toy cars and planes. I know, boys right? When we were on our trip they loved taking off and landing in different places and using their imagination. Glad your trip was fun!!

  3. this couldn't have come at a better time! you're on my wavelength laura!! we're going on a trip at the end of this week!

  4. Glad you are back safe and sound! Can't wait to see pictures!

  5. We always play bingo -but i need tp make an Australian version because our scenery, images and road signs differ slightly of course. i have pinned this on Pinterest- hope you don't mind. Lynda

  6. Oh I wish I read this before our trip. ;) Next time, next time.

    Slug Bug...that's always a fun game. till your arm hurts, that is. :)

    Oh, I'm following you now. Found you thru Crayon Freckles.


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