Daring a Road Trip with your Kids

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It’s summer, and families are hitting the road.  But long drives in the car can be torture for some of our tots. Many parents are cool with their children glued to the Ipad.  (I’ll succumb in an “emergency.”)  But I say, bring me the boredom of my youth!  I have fond memories of cruising in my Mom’s Pinto, making up games to help sitting still forever, go faster!

Here are some road trip games appropriate for 3-6 year olds.  These suggestions get the entire family involved.  Children get to use their imagination, as well as logic.  Try following your kids’ lead if they make up rules or even change the nature of the game.  If they are content stuck in a small moving box, then so are we parents! — Laurel Moglen, Managing Web Editor, TMC

The Car Game: Someone picks a color of a car to find.  Whoever finds the car color gets to choose the next color and so on.  You can get creative and ask to find a striped car, a blue and yellow car, a tow truck, police car, etc.

The Story Game: One person starts by saying a word or phrase. (“I was walking down –“)  The next person adds on to the word or phrase, (“the street and I saw — “) and so on from there (“a purple bear!”) — until it feels like a silly sentence or a story gets told.

I Spy: One person picks an object in the scenery that everyone can see – hopefully far enough in the distance, or in abundance — to give people time to find what’s being described.  So, one person takes a turn saying, for example, “I spy with my little eye something that is green and white”  The Answer:  “A street sign!”

Twenty Questions (kid style): Tell your child you are thinking of an animal, or an insect, or a dinosaur.  Have him ask twenty questions to see if he can guess what you’ve chosen.  Have your child take a turn choosing the object – he’ll have fun being the one with all the knowledge.

Wiggle Worm: Turn on music (hopefully a song that has not been requested and permitted to be heard 2,000 times already!)  Tell her to wiggle (in her car seat) until the music turns off.  That’s when she has to freeze in whatever kooky position she’s in.  Once the music is back on again, she gets to wiggle some more until the next freeze.

Name that Tune: Someone in the car whistles, or hums a a familiar song — but only the first bar or so of it.  Allow others (namely your children) to guess the tune.  If your children have trouble getting it, hum a little more until it clicks.

String It!: This game is a snack and an activity.  Have your child slip an O-shaped cereal onto an elastic string.  For an extra treat and a splash of color, throw in a few of the fruity O’s.  Once he’s done, tie the ends of the string in a knot.  Now he has an edible bracelet or necklace.  Maybe he’ll make one for everyone in the car!

Here are a few tips when you’ve exhausted the above games list.  Pop in a children’s podcastAudible children’s story or music you know your child will love, and hopefully you do too.  (The Beach Boys tend to please all parties involved.)  Load up a bag with some good travel toys in it — like Etch-a-sketch, dry erase boards, or sticker books (and maybe one surprise new one!).  Bring lots of healthy snacks that aren’t too messy, like nuts (for those not allergic), cheese cubes or mozzarella sticks, sliced pieces of fruits, and turkey jerky.  And, if you are lucky enough to have your kid still nap, timing your drive so s/he falls asleep about an hour in is golden — that can be a sweet 1-1.5 hour time kill!

Do you have any great tips for making long car drives go smoothly?  Please share — we’re listening!


The Mother Company aims to support parents and their children, providing thought-provoking web content and products based in social and emotional learning for children ages 3-6. Check out episodes of our Emmy winning series “Ruby’s Studio” children’s video series,  along with our beautiful children’s books, music, and more.

Posted in: Parental Wisdom, Happiness, Family, Holidays