Taking a road trip with your kids may seem like the best idea ever at first — cheaper travel costs, no going through security with the kids and their things, the risk of flight-related ear infections eliminated — until you're actually in the car with hours and hours between you and your destination and the question, "Are we there yet?" has already been asked hundred of times. Rather than take road trips off the table "until they're older," teach your kiddos a bunch of road trip games to keep your them busy with until the inevitable car-induced nap (please, please, please let them nap) comes into play.
Read through for 10 road trip games — that involve nothing but their minds and senses — to make your family road trip a fun and whine-free one.
1. Licence Plate Games. There are no shortage of license plate games out there that will keep kiddos busy for hours (OK, minutes, but it's something!). Print out a list of the 50 states for each child and see who can mark off the most states they see, have them go through the alphabet in order (one letter of the alphabet per license plate to add some difficulty), ask them if they can find their initials on a plate (bonus points for all three initials), or even look for birthdays (38 would be March 8, 923 for Sept. 23, etc.).
2. I Spy With My Little Eye . . . Something that is a certain color, a license plate with a certain number, a particular car model, or something inside the car — first person to guess correctly is the next spy.
3. I'm Going on a Picnic. This game can be played using basically any topic of interest, but is usually played with food names. The first player would say the little introduction, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing . . . " and then name a food beginning with A (apples); player two repeats the introduction, the first food player one named, then chooses one with B ("I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing apples and bananas), and so on until someone misses or forgets a part of the sequence. Great themes to use are cities, foods, movies, athletes, and more — just leave off the "I'm going to a picnic" part and simply repeat and add to the sequence.
4. Alphabet Continuation Game. This game could go on forever and ever, and it stays fun for a very long time. First, players choose a theme. If the theme is song names, for example, player one would name any song ("Say Something"), and the following player must name a song beginning with the last letter of the previous song (so for this example, it would be a song beginning with G — "Genie in a Bottle," then E, and so on). To make it more difficult, limit the song names to a particular genre or artist. Other fun themes include countries, celebrities, and names in general.
5. The Movie/Celebrity Continuation Game. Similar to the alphabet continuation game, this one revolves around movies, TV shows, and celebrities. The first player has to name a movie (Mrs. Doubtfire), the second player names a celebrity in that movie (Robin Williams), and the next player names a movie or TV show that that celebrity is also in (Good Will Hunting). It's a great way for teenagers to show off their movie knowledge (and will justify all of those hours you let them sit in front of movies).
6. 20 Questions. A fun game for even the littlest of kiddos, 20 question starts with one person thinking of a person, place, or thing, and continues with the other player asking yes or no questions to try and figure out what they're thinking. To play with more than two children, the ones guessing could either split the 20 questions between them, or to make it easier, they can each use 20 questions and whoever guesses the correct answer first wins the round.
7. Scavenger Hunts. For this one, create a list of a few things kids can "find" while you're driving — car colors and models, license plate states and letters or numbers, types of road signs, etc. — and print them out for the ride. First child to find everything on their list (you can give them all one list, or if you're feeling ambitious, print out a few different ones) wins! This game will take a little longer and keep kiddos a bit quieter while it's being played.
8. Spelling Bee. Hold an age-appropriate spelling bee right in your car. What kid wouldn't brag about being family spelling champ for the rest of the trip?
9. Counting Games. Count the blue cars, count the Toyotas, count the cars with two people in them, count the speed limit signs — count anything. First person to 10 (or 20, or more) wins, and then you can count something else!
And if you're really desperate . . .
10. "99 Bottle of Milk on the Wall." Whichever parent starts crying first loses and has to drive the rest of the way.