Ideas for Traveling With Kids: The Best Car Activities, No Electricity Required
In about 15 minutes we are going “Up North”. Everyone in Michigan refers to going anywhere north of where you are as going “Up North”. However, there’s up north and there is Up North. We are going to the upper peninsula, so far into the upper peninsula it may as well be Canada, without the mounties and the ham posing as bacon.
My children do not sleep in the car and never have. They are awake the entire time no matter how long the trip. Once on a road trip our daughter had a little sniffle, she sneezed at least once, so we gave her a dose of allergy medicine which sometimes makes people drowsy and might urge them to take a small nap. Her small sniffle was effectively wiped out, however she talked for five consecutive hours barely pausing to take a breath.
Sometime after that trip we incorporated the portable tv/vcr combo into our trips. Five years and a second child later we’ve added a hand held video game system and a portable dvd player to our travel gear.
I know people scoff at the electronic entertainment for kids on trips and I understand why. However, I also have at least one child who is a horrible, horrible travel companion and when traveling with her eventually you’re going to require a lot of alcohol or the ability to leave your body in order to arrive at your destination. Ironically, leaving your body while driving will mostly likely cause you to crash and drinking while driving is also a really bad idea.
I believe in electronic enhancement during travel with kids, but I also believe in more creative ways to kill time in the car. I’m focusing mainly on games which require no supplies because, well, yesterday my basement filled with 2 inches of water, today I spent 2 hours at the doctor with my son and his ear infection, I haven’t packed for our trip to my sister’s wedding where I’m the matron of honor and my daughter is the flower girl and I entertained another family for dinner tonight. I don’t have time to collect a lot of gear is what I’m trying to say.
I always loved license plate games growing up, in the old days when we didn’t wear seat belts, watch tv in cars and open containers of alcohol were not illegal in cars. Family Fun suggests creating phrases out of the letters on the plates. So, for example, maybe you see a plate which reads “RLD 352” this could be “Really Long Drive 352”. They also suggest having each child pick a license plate and add the numbers, the plate which adds up closest to 21 wins.
I love this game called “Eating The Alphabet“. The first player says “I’m so hungry I could eat [item which starts with A]”. The second player repeats the last item and adds another item they’d like to eat which begins with B. And so on, until you’re eating x-rays and all the members of ZZ Top.
This site, Moms Minivan, has several travel ideas up for grabs. I’m a little ashamed to say it never occurred to me to read aloud together on our trips. We’ve got a couple chapter books ready to go, I’m not convinced my 6 year old’s interest will be held but I’m certain my 8 year old will be engaged and since she’s the difficult traveler in our family that sounds perfect.
I can’t wait to try out “Fortunately/Unfortunately” with my kids. This is a shared story telling game involving a bounce between good luck and not as good luck. Here’s the example from Family Fun site, “A boy went to the store,” one player might begin. “Fortunately, he brought three dollars in his pocket to buy bread and milk.” The second player takes over: “Unfortunately, the money was soaking wet when he got there because it was raining.” I have a feeling my optimistic son and husband will have the fortunately’s covered and my pessimistic daughter and I will have no problem with the unfortunately’s.
Maybe you’re more organized and prepared to bring some items on your trip to entertain the kids.
The travel Magna Doodle is getting a lot of attention on our product rating site. I have to agree with most reviewers, we’ve always loved the Magna Doodle because it’s not messy, is small enough to keep in the car all the time and works quite well for tic tac toe or even better, “Finish The Doodle”. To play finish the doodle, one person closes his eyes and makes a squiggle on the Magna Doodle. The other person then creates some drawing out of the doodle.
Madallie is a children’s travel store full of great items to keep your kids unplugged and entertained while travelling. Lacing cards are great fun for small children and easily contained to a car seat. You can make your own travel bingo game, but the question is, “Will you, really?” My answer is no, here’s one you can buy.
I’d love to hear how you keep your kids entertained while traveling. I have my blackberry in the car and it will probably work for at least part of the way up north. I mean, I’m pretty sure the internet doesn’t reach that far but until we cross the bridge to the upper peninsula I can probably still get email. Please feel free to share your best distracting activities for the car.