Long car trips can be difficult for young children. Their sense of elapsed time is different than for adults and they’re not used to sitting still for long periods of time without much to do. The relative lack of space inside a car can make it all the harder for parents to provide children with diversions to help pass the time.
To make long car rides more pleasant for the whole family, try these car activities:
Create an instant lap desk. Here’s a way to solve the quandary of a car not having a place for child-friendly activities such as coloring, playing with toys, or eating a snack because there’s nothing flat on which to put things: Pack a cookie-baking sheet and stash it in an easily accessible place inside the car. When your child wants to draw or play with building blocks, you’ll be ready and your child will have a flat playing surface.
Play backseat bingo. Keep young passengers focused on searching for and finding specific items that you might pass en route, such as a white house with blue shutters, a detour sign, or a pink sports car. You may wish to keep score or to reward the players of this classic car game with a small treat for a game well played. For pre-made game sheets, try MiniTime, a family travel website that offers several free, printable bingo sheets.
Play license plate bingo. Have passengers be on the lookout for license plates from as many different states as they can spot. The same search could continue throughout the road trip or start from scratch each day. Before your trip, you may want print a list with photos of the 50 U.S. license plates. Make sure to print out an extra list because you may find yourself playing as well!
Read a favorite story. Long car rides can be a perfect occasion for reading a great book. Select a few age-appropriate books for your child to read throughout the trip. When traveling with multiple children of different ages and interests, consider purchasing a few audio books so that each child can listen to a preferred story through personal headphones.
A seven-hour road trip can fly by in a wink for your child when occupied by fun and attention-absorbing car games. Have you had especial success with any great car games? Be sure to share them with us on our Facebook page!