Best Road Trip Hints for Kids?

Best Road Trip Hints for Kids? March 21, 2010

I’m hitting the road with the kids at the end of the week, not to Washington, D.C., as originally planned, but to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota.  (I decided we’ll go to D.C. when the kids are a bit older.)

So, I ask you, dear readers, for the best road trip games for kids.  I’ve already printed out some road trip bingo cards, and the license plate game.  Any other ideas?

And how about favorite audio books — or, better yet, podcasts (free!) for the trip?

Really, any tips for the road trip?

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  • Not sure if you are into the whole magic genre, but Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series is really good, and less complicated for younger audiences. All of my kids ages 5 – 14 liked listening. The first book is called “Magyk”. I liked them okay too, which helps LOL. Not nearly as good as Harry Potter, though, naturally.

    Snacks are a must. Don’t make the mistake I made one time of giving them all to the kids to get into at leisure. Three kids ate nearly a whole box of Ding Dongs all at once. It was sick. Also, I pack a water bottle for each child (we buy the dishwasher safe reusable ones), but for the ones without self control I keep the bottle until they need a drink. Otherwise they will drink it all up at once and you get three potty breaks in the next hour. 🙂 I have to tell them at the start of each trip to pace themselves with the water. It sometimes works.

    Take car sickness into consideration in your seating arrangements. And don’t put kids together who are most likely to bicker, if you have any that really go too far with it like some of mine.

    OMG I could go on all day but I won’t. I am with my kids all the time and I have four! I have been caring for kids my entire adult life! I will leave you with one more….

    My kids are the kind who love stuffed animals and dolls. I let them each bring one on the drive. It gives them a greater purpose (don’t laugh!) and distraction. And helps with that odd loneliness that kids can experience when they are so close to you but just can’t reach you quite right to get that physical touch they need throughout the day. Start out by telling them to pick a small or medium sized one. They will tire of it partway through the trip, but will be glad for it back later on.

  • We recently did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (got from the Library) on CD. It covered us on the going “to” portion of the trip, and we did Matilda on the way home. When we stopped at rest stops, we would talk about what was going on in the story. Hardly noticed the driving we were so involved.

  • Dave H

    No idea if your kids would be into “The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd” but i listened to the first couple seasons and was impressed by the funny stories and high production values. Plus: FREE!

  • Jodi

    We always played “the alphabet game” when we traveled as kids. It’s the “I went to the store and bought apples (or something starting with a).” The next person repeats what the last person says and adds an item that starts with the next letter of the alphabet. Mom kept score – 2 points for each round if we could do it without help, 1 point if we needed assistance. At the end, the person with the most points got to choose the next game or activity.

  • My sister and I made up the following game during our trip from Oregon to Yellowstone. It can be played by 2 or more people. Person #1 picks a letter of the alphabet, for example, “P”; Then Person #2 choose a word that begins with that letter, for example, “paddle.” The next person, either #3, or — if there are onloy two people, #1 — talks about the word. For example, she may choose to talk about the time she rode in a paddle boat on a vacation with her family.
    It’s a game that can get people talking about all sorts of things. You learn a lot about each other, too.

  • When my wife and I went out there from WI last summer, we counted all the signs for Wall-Drug. We would try to shout out the next number before the other. By the time we arrived we were shouting every few
    seconds as a ridiculous number of signs showed up. And then before we entered the badlands, we stopped in for coffee and donuts. The counting really helped pass the time and let us know when we were getting close.

  • Elgin likes to listen to the homebrewed christianity podcast. In particular he is a fan of intros where Tripp bebops.

    A fav travel game of mine is making magnet collages with all the sweet magnets you can get at truck stops.

    You can also all put on sweet trucker hats, glasses, and such at the truck stop and take pictures of yourself wearing them. Then when you print the pictures you hold them up with your sweet magnets.

    The road to the badlands is also full of geo-cashing stops.

  • Wendy

    The boys and I like the sound recordings of the Sisters Grimm books. Interesting for them because of all the fun fairy tell characters, snarky enough for me…

  • You are a brave man Tony.

  • Dave

    All 3 of my kids are the kind that do not like to be “entertained”. We have to talk to them the whole way.

    The best thing though, was to get a GPS and set it up for them so they can independently track when we are going to be there and where we are (they were doing this when they were young). As it turns out they are much like me listening to a long (boring) sermon, I want to know when we are going to get there.

    The best for GPS was to set it up on a laptop and get a GPS extension. That way they could all see the screen without having to pick it up.


  • Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know is always a hit with my kids on road trips. It’s a funny public radio quiz show along the lines of the old You Bet Your Life. It’s good, light entertainment–a little music, a quiz, some funny interviews.

    You might like Sunday Night Safran, an Australian program about “religion and all things ethnic” with comedian John Safran and Father Bob MacGuire.

    Both programs are available as podcasts.

  • My Mother in Law taught my kids this game where you start at A and work through the alphabet to Z trying to come up with animal or food names.
    Apple, Biscotti, Cake, etc.
    Ape, Beaver, Cat, etc.

    …in alphabetical order, taking turns between the children. No scoring for this one (though I like the scoring idea above too).

  • Joel

    Not sure if youve heard of geocaching or not. It’s a treasure hunting game that utilizes the GPS on your phone. Check out this site and let me know what you think. Your kids will absolutely love it. Also, . You will be amazed at how many “treasures” there are all over the U.S.

  • sameer