15 Fun New Things To Do For A Long Car Ride!
It’s that time of year…
“Are we there yet?”
“How much longer?”
My kids are actually excellent travelers, but even they have their limits. Our summer usually consists of a cross country trek to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The place is sheer peace I tell ya. The car ride can be a different story. We are talking 23 hours of windshield time with 2 adults, 3 kids and this year only 1 dog. (you can read about our loss here) Plus all our stuff. It’s a lot.
In an effort to keep boredom at bay I have come up with a vacation folder for the kids. We also have a slew of made up car games. I put together a cheap braded notebook full of stuff to do in the car. One for each kid. Today I am sharing. You can thank me later.
1. We love the license plate game. I like to add a little geography to the mix so I print a map of the US, with state capitols, for my kids to use as we road trip across the land. I always print it in black and white and the kiddos color in the state when we find it’s plate on the road. They get to see where the state is, how far away or close we are from it plus they can see what we have left to search for. I love that it keeps them on the lookout while secretly they are learning about the country we live in. I’ve heard there are apps for this, but I am old fashioned. Here is the best free printable I have found, be sure to print in landscape mode for the best layout. US Map
2. No road trip for our family would be complete with out a game of Cadillac Jack. A game totally made up by my husband and his affinity for Cadillacs. It’s quite simple. When you see a Cadillac you simply yell out Cadillac Jack whatever color it is. We rarely make it anyway without shouts of Cadillac Jack Blue or Cadillac Jack White streaming from the back seat. Even on the short ride to school. My five year old can spot one from an alarming distance. Even at night. I catch myself calling out about Cadillacs when I am alone, probably because I’m the worst player in the family and if the kids are with me they beat me to them every time. You can play teams, first one to X number…just make up your own rules. You’ll be surprised.
3. That game lead us to this made up game…El Camino Bingo. The joke in our home is dad wants a Cadillac and mom wants an El Camino to haul all her junking finds in without having to drive a truck. My kids love looking for old cars as we travel and El Caminos are old and few, not to mention kind of ugly. So its a real treat to be the one to call out El Camino Bingo Orange! Again, we don’t play so much for points as bragging rights for a watchful eye.
4. Another made up game comes courtesy of my brother in law. It started on a thundery rainy beach day one summer vacation. Bingo and Cheese. When the lighting strikes you yell Bingo! When the thunder rolls you say cheese. It helps sidetrack the thought of being cooped up on a rainy vacation day. It’s all about how you sell it people.
5. There is always the slug bug game. However, we don’t slug. These games are meant to keep the peace. I can’t get on board with promoting anything I am going to have to referee! My kids play so much they really only get excited about the older original bugs and the VW van is the holy grail!
6. My kids are fond of car scavenger hunts. Lists of things to look for while we ride. Here is a link to some great free travel printables! I like that she has a list with words and one with pictures for your littles. I use A LOT of her printables. You can make your whole notebook from this website.
7. Categories – This is a fun game where we pick a category and go around the car listing something in the group that starts with the letter of the alphabet we are on. Some fun category choices are: girl names, boy names, animals, places, toys, food. For example…category: girl names, first person: Alice, second person: Amy, etc. There is a whole hand clap, snap song that goes with it. My mom does it with the kids. We just go in a circle 🙂
8. Alphabet game – We run through the alphabet finding words on signs that start with the letter we are searching for, going in alphabetical order. Sounds easy, but the long stretches between big cities can be hard!
9. It’s not a game but I always include a printed map of our route. That way they can mark it off in bits and track our progress. They can cross of states as we go. Then the “Are we there yet?” question has a visual answer. Again, hidden geography lesson.
10. The never ending story – You know the game. Where someone starts a story and each person adds a little bit to it and you go in circles until it gets so silly it can’t go on anymore. That or your littlest says “the end”. Our stories usually involve boys attacking something and girls showing how awesome they are(they meaning the girl, not the boy). Free entertainment for all.
12. Make your own word search. This is a fun way to make things personal. Add words that describe where you are going and what you’ll be doing. Beach, sand, family fun. Be sure to make one for the ride home to get geared up for heading back to reality…words like: unpack, rest, home. Click here to make your own!
13. Here are a few free printables I rounded up from Travelwithkids. Road Trip Crossword, Road Trip I Spy , Road Trip Word Search , Spot The Car
14. You can gather some more fun ideas here.
15. This isn’t a car game, but I think it is a good summer goal. We always get off track staying in God’s word in the freedom of summer’s non-schedule. I printed a study last year, we started and did not finish strong. We are going to work on it again this year. Hope you will join us! Please email me if you would like the printable details.
The thing I love about all of these games is that it keeps the kids engaged to the world around them. Hunting things out through the window panes. The games strike up fun conversation like what is a silo? or whats the differences between life in the city versus country. I love it when their eyes are roaming the open highway for fun things to spy.
Here is the biggest tip of all – don’t forget what goes up must come down. Or in road trip terms…wherever you go you have to come back. The trip there is often full of excitement and anticipation. The trip home is a little more full of tired and cranky. DON’T forget about the return trip. Print out TWO of the games above and save the second set for the drive back. Better yet, hold back a few games to keep them fresh for the ride home.
All these silly games we play are big ole efforts to keep our kids engaged to the scenery passing by. We let them watch movies and read books, but lessons and life are zooming by out the windows. I want them to soak that up. The days of summer break are fleeting, soon life will be busy and road trips less frequent. I hope this bit of info helps you look forward to the road ahead. Please share with me the games you play and things you do – we would love to add to our list. Remember, we have 23 hours ahead of us!!! Let me know how you roll..
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We LOVE to road trip!!! Last year we spent two weeks on the road between here and Northern California! We’ll have to chat – I’ve got lots of ideas (lots of them are pinned on my Vacay Pinterest board). We have lots of the same ideas! 🙂
Stephanie @ The Dish BCS says
I love a good road trip! We head down to the coast lots and that short 4-5 hour drive is “the longest car trip ever known to man”. My kids and my niece and nephew would love all these games! It’s on!
Kim at Hunt and Host says
I hope they enjoy them. I love road trips!!!!
Shelly Janac says
I love road trips and I’m so thankful my kids do great. We love playing bingo in the car. These are all great ideas! I love the license plate game and we all get the app on our electronic devices and play against each other….I always win because I’m the only one so intent on checking off the entire list.
Kim Jones says
lol…my daughter and I rock at the license plate game for the same reason. The boys like it, but only when they aren’t busy. We are determined!!!
Shelly Janac says
So glad I remembered reading this…just made a word search and printed a map for our trip!
Shirley Wood says
I’m so glad you shared with us at the Summer Family Fun party. I’m Featuring this post on my blog at this week’s party #summerfamilyfun. I’ll also be sharing on my social media. Thank you so much for partying with us, come on back!
Kim Jones says
Shirley – I am so grateful for the feature! You made my day! I will be back to check out all the amazing links on your party and to add some more! Sincerest thanks! kim
Paula Hill Emery says
I make a photo book of our vacations. On the way home, we go through the alphabet and think of all the things we saw that starts with each letter. Some have a bunch of words, some one (Q). We also each tell the 3 things they liked the best. I write all this down and it becomes pages in our photobook.
Kim at Salvaged Living says
that is an amazing idea!!! I love it so much, what great memories