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10 Must-Haves for Kid Entertainment While Traveling
Hopefully, these activities will keep your kids entertained for hours upon hours, especially while traveling. We suggest you make a list for your kids so that they can choose the activity on their own, in what order, how long they want to do it, and how many times. Some games take two or more people to play, so have everyone vote or negotiate what they want to do as a group. Letting your kids decide is a great way to develop their independence and makes them feel in control. Also, if they can play together without a referee, you can enjoy your book, music, or just focus on driving.
#1 Activity Books
Most likely, each of your kids has a favorite character. It could be a Disney princess, a superhero, or a cartoon character. If their favorite is not too out of the ordinary, you can order activity books online that showcase this character as a theme. Most of these activity books have crossword puzzles, connect the dots, word unscrambling, and more.
#2 Travel Journal
Travel Journals can be purchased online as well. They will likely include a page for each place you visit and have the same questions for each location such as city, favorite activity, most interesting thing learned, etc. Or you can get creative and make them yourself with scrapbooking materials so that you can customize them for each child and according to your destinations.
#3 Card Games
There are so many card games that can be played with a normal deck of cards. Go Fish, War, Cribbage are some of my favorites with a standard deck of cards. You could also get some specific card games for kids, like UNO, and these will for sure kill time in the back seat! This is a great activity to join in on the fun, even from the front seat.
#4 Cross Stitch
Your area Michael’s or JoAnn’s will have small cross-stitch projects that include everything your kids need – needle, thread, etc. These small projects even have the colors printed on the fabric, so it’s kind of like a paint-by-number but with stitches instead. These are often on clearance, especially after the holidays. Or you can use a coupon, which can usually get you 40-50 percent off. Crafter’s tip: they also accept competitor coupons. Hand-made artwork makes a perfect gift for grandmas and teachers.
Audiobooks are a given for kids of all ages, but what about podcasts? There are several kid oriented podcasts out there that vary in length. Some are short, lasting only 20 minutes, while others are longer and perfect for older kids. These are sure to be enjoyed by the adults as well.
#6 Alphabet of Topics
This game will offer lots of entertainment, creativity, and giggles. A parent can start with an easy topic such as fruits and vegetables. Everyone takes a turn naming an item that falls within the topic that starts with the next letter of the alphabet. Rule number one: no shouting out the answers. Each kid or parent gets a minute or so to think of one, and if they can’t, someone else can suggest it for them. Then let the kids choose a topic. This is a great game that involves the whole family and keeps the driver from getting too bored while driving.
#7 If I Were a…
My spouse would blurt out a silly question like “If you were a cereal, what kind would you be?” during those awkward silences when we first started dating. The answers were not simply a few words, either – most have to explain why. This transferred very easily to my daughter, and she now often uses this question to describe her friends, teachers, and others she meets. This is a great activity to build critical thinking skills in elementary and middle school-aged children. For example, she says her history teacher is definitely bran flakes—bland and boring. Other questions could be: “What superpower would you have?” “What flower would you be?” “What animal would you be?” And don’t forget to follow up with “Why?”
#8 Would You Rather?
This is another fun question game that engages everyone in the car. It also encourages creativity and often results in giggles and “ew gross!” You would be surprised at how disgusting and silly your kids can be when you give them complete freedom to do so. One person asks any “or” question they would like such as “Would you rather be a cat or a dog? This game usually brings about many “it depends” and follow-up questions. It’s also a great way to explain why you would choose one over the other because everyone’s opinions and justifications are different. If you don’t want to have to make up your own “would you rather” scenarios – grab this Would You Rather book that makes silly scenarios for you!
#9 The Squiggle Game
My daughter loves this one because she enjoys drawing and is very creative. Start with a clean sheet of paper. Her sketch pads work well because you can make several on one sheet. This is a great game for two kids to play or everyone in the car (except the adult who is driving, of course). The first person makes a squiggle – a random line with a curve or sharp angle. It’s especially fun to close your eyes. Then the squiggle is passed on to the next person to turn it into something like a flower, a boy riding a bike, or a car . . . whatever the other person sees in the squiggle. This game can last for quite a while. Make a goal to fill up the entire sheet of paper before moving on to the next activity.
#10 Make a Collage
If you don’t mind cleaning up little scraps of paper all over your car, collect some old magazines and travel brochures from the state welcome centers, grab kid safety scissors and pack cardboard or cardstock paper. We recommend glue sticks (as opposed to liquid glue) for road trips. You can make this an extra challenging activity for your kids if you assign a particular theme such as a favorite quote, favorite song, or a favorite memory.
Whether your trip is 20 minutes across town or four-hour stretches across the country, these activities are guaranteed to keep your kids busy, creative, and even encourages interaction with the best teachers – their parents.
Need some tips on traveling with young kids? Check this out:
Zaneta is a Research Specialist and Writer for carinsurancecomparison.com and autoinsurance.org. Writing and research have been an integral component of her studies in anthropology, instructional technology, technical and professional communication, and adult education. A mountain biker-turned-paddler, she lives in Greenville, SC with her spouse, 12-year-old daughter, three lizards, and two Dachshunds.