Did your family take road trips when you were a kid? Do you remember how you tried to deal with the boredom of a long, hot car ride with your brother always putting his foot on your side and your sister yelling “Mom, he keeps looking at me!” Did your mom or dad glare at you in the rearview mirror and growl “Be quiet or I’m turning this car around and taking us home!” Ah, the good old days, right? Well, now those of us who are parents can be happy that finally we get to be in charge of the car trips, plan the itinerary, pack the games and snacks, and even occasionally get to be the ones yelling at the kids to SHUT UP!
Actually, we’re joking. We love to take long car rides with our kids! There are a lot more ways to entertain children now than back in the day. Spending time as a family on a long car trip can actually be a bonding experience and a way to create fun memories. If you’re planning a long road trip with the kids any time soon, there are many types of entertainment--electronic and old-school--that you can use to entertain your kids. Here’s a list of our 10 favorites:
Onboard entertainment. When we were kids, road trips were made in station wagons or, if we were lucky, minivans. Of course, most cars had radios, and some even had tape or CD players. Now almost all minivans and SUVs offer onboard entertainment like DVD players and satellite radio. The old minivans and station wagons of yore didn't have onboard DVD players or even onboard VHS players! (Of course, that was never a thing, but it would have been nice, wouldn’t it?) But now in 2018, when the robots are poised to take over, you can usually pop in a DVD for your kids to watch. It’s a great way to while away the hours.
Electronic games and gadgets. There a million of these. You can totally solve the boredom issue if all the kids get their own Nintendo Switches or iPads. They can surf the Web, play games, text their friends, watch movies and TV shows, etc. Now, of course, there’s nothing wrong with using the electronic babysitter, especially on very long car rides. But if you’d prefer to save some money (iPads are expensive!), encourage your kids to appreciate the scenery, and maybe even do a little old-fashioned family bonding, read on.
Family sing-along. Sure, it’s hokey. But everybody sounds great, belting their hearts out in a car, singing along to the satellite radio or a favorite song played on a smartphone. Make sure to take turns so everybody gets to hear something they like. And be kind: family trips are not a good place to critique little Timmy’s singing voice. Let the kids belt it out and just enjoy their joy!
Books. These can be physical books, e-books, or audio books. If your kids are too young to read or not quite ready to read to themselves, there are tons of fun audiobooks that they can enjoy. One of our favorites is “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin and John Archambault. For older kids, maybe try one of the Harry Potter audiobooks. “The Hobbit” or “The Lord of the Rings” are both great to listen to on long car trips, especially in the dark. Let the words roll over you as the miles fly by. Mom and Dad can enjoy these books, too.
Are we there yet? This one is kind of old-school, but a lot of kids enjoy following along on a map as they travel. They can use an old-fashioned paper map (people still have those in their glove compartments, don’t they?), or you can print out a map from Google Maps or another map site. Let the kids help your GPS navigate!
Spot the license plate! This is an oldie but a goodie, too. You keep track of the different states’ license plates you see and who spots the most. The most important thing is to always have a prize that the winner can use to make the losers jealous. Your kids might be fighting, but they won’t be bored! But seriously, this game can help alleviate the annoyance of being caught in a traffic jam on the highway.
Who am I? Someone thinks of a famous person and the others are allowed to ask only questions that can be answered with Yes or No. Are you alive? Are you a man? Are you in this car right now? Are you my dad? (This one might not be the best example.)
Car activity boxes and games. When everyone is tired of playing car games with each other, it’s time to break out the handheld puzzles, activity books, coloring books, maybe a favorite stuffed animal for the youngest one to cuddle.
And...snack time! It’s always a good idea to pack lots of snacks for the road. If dinner is still 100 or more miles away, why not break out some small packages of cookies or chips? So what if the kids spoil their appetites--that means there will be more dinner for Mom and Dad! (Please note that Cars of America does not endorse the previous sentence.)
The quiet game. This is one for the parents. How long can everyone go without saying a word? Five miles? Ten miles? Twenty miles? Oh no...the suspense is killing us: Mom! Dad! ARE WE THERE YET?
We hope this list has given you some ideas for your next long road trip with the kids. It’s always a good idea to have your car checked out before taking it on a long journey. Cars of America, Inc. would be glad to have your business. At Cars of America, Inc., you'll find friendly, top-notch professionals who deliver quality auto repair at affordable prices. We stand behind our repairs with a Transferable, Limited, Lifetime Repair Warranty. You’re welcome to stop by Cars of America, Inc. in Glenview or Evanston; or visit us online athttps://www.carsofamericainc.com/.