The car is packed, the best vacation of your life is just a few hours away. Now all you have to do is get there. So what’s the problem? THE DREADED CAR RIDE!
Picture your kids in the backseat, smiling and laughing, joking and taking turns. Ahhh. That’s how all family road trips are, right? Sure.
“Are we there yet?”
“Mom, he hit me!”
“What’s that smell!?”
“Stop looking at me!”
Sound familiar? Yes. So what do you do? Of course, there is always the option of throwing on a movie, but does that really go along with the quality family time theme you imagined for this trip? No.
Will it make happy childhood memories that your child will treasure for years to come? No.
But there is hope: Travel Games. If you recently read my post about pocket-book-sized toys, you know that I’m a huge advocate of getting kids to do hands-on learning activities in any way you can.
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The perfect travel game is good for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It encourages turn-taking, learning, and social interaction. The difference between pocket-book-sized toys and travel games is that travel games are meant for the whole family. You can always bring pocket-book-sized toys along for when you need quiet time, but getting everybody playing something together is always a great way to create memories. Travel games should also be easy to hold and pass. Something with tiny pieces isn’t good when you have little ones with seat belts or booster seats.
My best memories of family road trips were that my mom ALWAYS had lifesavers in her pocket-book and my dad always had this particular muzak song playing. My brothers and sister and I still laugh about it. But we also have great memories of playing Uno and Go Fish at the dinner table as a family. Games rock.
So here are some great options for TRAVEL GAMES:
Travel Games that encourage Language and Spelling
Madlibs are always good for a few laughs. If you have little ones who don’t understand verbs, adjectives, and nouns, it’s easy to give a few examples for them to pick from. Reading the silly story is always fun at the end.
Remember Hangman? My friends and always used to argue about if was ok to add eyebrows, a hat, etc., to avoid “killing” the hangman. It’s kind of a morbid concept, but it is definitely a classic! I love the Melissa and Doug Travel Hangman because you literally can’t drop any pieces, you just flip over the letters. This is good for kids who are learning to recognize letters, too!
“Would you rather?” is a funny, language-based game geared toward kids aged 12 and up. Apparently, some of the questions are kind of gross, which is perfect for creating giggles in the backseat. For younger kids, “You Gotta Be Kidding!” encourages language and reasoning while trying to guess what the family member would rather do.
Melissa and Doug Travel Bingo is cute for little ones (4 and up) to play together in the backseat.
Travel Games that Encourage Bonding & Communication
Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to open and up and discuss things that are on their minds. Social workers and psychologists often use “conversation starters” and games to provide an open forum, rather than asking direct questions that might cause a child to clam up. “Never have I ever” (family version) is marketed for dinner conversations and holidays, but why not road trips? As per the reviews, it might be good to look through the questions if you have younger kids, because they might not work (ex. Never have I ever forgotten to wear deodorant, etc.).
Tabletopics won the Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award 2012 for starting conversations with your family. There are different versions, including a Teen version, Family Gathering/Holiday version, and even a Happiness version. It has many positive reviews from parents with children who are on the spectrum or have communication issues.
Travel Games that work on Visual Skills
This one is for two players, but that can work if you have two kids in the backseat. Travel Tic Tac Toe. This is great for teaching kids problem solving, patterns, and critical thinking, too. The Memory game is another good one.
Spot it is a fun game for up to eight players where you have to “spot” things along the road trip. Which brings us to the classic License Plate game, where you have to try to find a license plate from every state by the end of the trip. Scavenger Hunt is similar to both of these. What’s nice about these games is that it forces kids to actually look out the window and see their surroundings, rather than having their eyes glued to a screen.
Not sure which games your child would like? Try the Road Trip Activity book, which won the 2016 Book award. It combines paper/pencil tasks like Dot to Dot and mazes, with the games above like bingo and the license plate game. It has it all!
This post is part of a Travel Blog Hop Series. Check out the rest of the posts in our TRAVEL Blog Hop before your big trip!
Tips for Taking Kids on Long Flights from MamaSmiles
How to Avoid Boring in A Long Trip For Extrovert And Introvert Kids from Living Ideas
Getting the Energy Out on a Road Trip from Royal Baloo
Record where you’ve been World Map Craft from The Diary of a Frugal Family
Best Cameras for Family Travel from Kid World Citizen
Long Island Posts
With 6 kids in tow when we travel, we have our favorites that require no equipment! Check them out here http://growingplay.blogspot.com/2015/11/car-rides-and-kids-7-games-to-play-no.html
These are great suggestions. I’m glad to have them for our road trip in September.