When you are off on a road trip, it can be many things: Freeing, as you travel on your own terms. Exciting, as you see and do things you might not otherwise. And maddening if the kids get bored.
But with a little preparation, your road trip with kids can be peaceful and happy. Here are a few tried and true car games and activities from parents.
Books on tape
Look, a road trip needn't be a massive buzz-fest with electronics galore. But if you are going to pack some entertainment, a book on tape (or, ahem, CD) is the way to go.
"On our last family road trip I got a library card just for the occasion. I went to my local library and took out books on CD for my daughters. They loved it! They were able to look at the books and listen to the animated storyteller," says mom of two Suzanne Vukosavljevic.
The initials game
We all know that road trips can be boring -- not just for the kids, but for you too. So, a fun game is great for all of you to pass the time. This fab version of Guess Who, called the Initials Game, is perfect. "Each child thinks of something, usually a name of someone, could be a character in a book, a movie, a friend and famous person, etc., then they tell us the initials and we try to guess who it is," says David Leventhal. "The one who guesses correctly wins and then they pick the initials. This is a variation on 20 questions, very fun."
A new take on I-Spy
Who hasn't played I-Spy in the car or elsewhere? This is the quinessential road trip game, and this fun version infuses it with a little more excitement. Strips of paper with letters and numbers are placed into a bowl or bag. "I select one strip at a time and call out the letter and the number," says Stephen C. Rood.
So, what do the letter and numbers mean? "The purpose is to find, or spy, something on the road or alongside the road that starts with the letter I just read out. The number stands for the point value one can achieve. I have the kids play to a certain point value, say 15 or 20 points. The first one getting to that point value wins a prize," says Rood.
Driving can be downright painful if your family plays Punch Buggy. But this kinder, gentler cousin of that game is plenty of fun too. "The goal is to see a Jeep first (only traditional Wrangler styles count) and yell out "JEEP!" Obviously, the goal is to be first and to count the most. We like it because it keeps the kids engaged and it teaches basic counting and rules (including honesty)," says Mike Grant.
And for older kids, this can be a more complicated (and fun) game, too. "We keep adding new rules - add a point for a white van, lose two points if the white van has a ladder on top. Lose all points if we see a Police Car -- a great way to keep all eyes looking for speed traps," says Grant.
Now, it's time to hit the road!
>>Do you know of any fun road trip activities? Share them in the comments!
More travel activities for kids