“Are we there yet?” “Not yet!” “Are we there yet?” “Not yet!” If you are a parent to a toddler, then you probably know this Cocomelon song. You see how the kids are usually tired of the long road trip and keep asking their parents if they are there yet? That is exactly what happens when you go for long car trips with kids. They get tired and bored and that’s when all hell breaks loose.
So what should you do? Drop kids off to a relative and go for that trip without them?
While you can choose to do that, there’s a second option. Take the kids with you and entertain them in the car. Going for car trips with kids is a great way to create lasting memories. It’s nice to experience the joys of traveling and seeing new places with your kids.
But long car rides can be tricky with kids. This is why you need to plan carefully. A great road trip requires proper planning. Otherwise, the kids will get bored and irritable, and trust me, you don’t want that.
We came up with a comprehensive list of how to entertain kids on long car rides. Take a look.
1. My go-to method is to always carry a kid’s tablet. Yes, we always limit screen time for our kids, but it’s different when we are traveling with them. My kids love Peppa pig so much. So we ensure that we carry their Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablets and let them watch videos. We love this tablet because it has Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited that restricts content by age. That way we don’t keep checking what the kids are watching.
Quick Tip: Always carry their headphones so that everyone can watch whatever they want without distracting someone else. It’ll minimize fights since everyone will be minding their own business. Also, the headphones should have ear cushions and a built-in volume limiter to enable you to set their volume limit.
2. Carry small toys and let them play with them. There’s so much Peppa Pig that kids can watch. They’ll obviously get bored with it at some point. That’s when you let them play with small toys. Kids love toys and they will play with them anywhere, anytime and road trips are not an exception. Pack numerous car-friendly toys in boxes, and make sure each of them gets their favorite toys and a few extras to go along with them. You can pack figurines, legos, cards, and their favorite dolls or teddy bears.
Quick tip: It’s good to carry new toys as well. New toys will keep them busy for longer as opposed to the ones they are already used to.
3. Carry an art kit- Children have creative minds and an active imagination. They love making artistic stuff like drawings and paintings. While traveling with them, always pack art kits to keep them busy as they ride along. Art will distract and relax them. Plus the paintings and drawings will always remind them of the good time they had during that trip.
Quick tip: As much as art kits keep your kids occupied, try to carry something that is car-friendly. You don’t want to bring paint that will leave stains in your car. Try to bring art kits full of paper activities or crayons since they don’t stain the car’s interior.
Also, the toys, paintings, drawings, and all the small fun things can create so much mess in the car. To avoid the mess, invest in a good backseat organizer. The kids will have a place to keep their toys, tablets, drinks, drawings and everything else.
4. Take pictures- Taking pictures is an excellent way to pass time while traveling with kids. It is also a great way of keeping memories. Road trips often present tons of opportunities to take pictures. There are usually lots of cool places and beautiful sceneries to take photos. Don’t miss out on this. Always take photos with your kids to preserve these memories. Trust me, they will appreciate this when they are older.
Quick tip: Give the kids their own cameras and let them document their trip. Whatever fascinates them, sceneries, vehicles, people, trees, rocks, or whatever, let them take a snap and keep them for memories. You’ll be surprised at how distracted they’ll be. You might just reach your destination without them even realizing it.
5. Make snack time fun- Good food can turn a boring journey into a fun one. Giving them their favorite snacks can switch their mood from cranky and irritable to happy and excited. Pack their snacks in cute lunch boxes and let them eat whenever they are hungry.
Kids often become lively when they have a full stomach. When you take time to give them good food during a trip, their energy levels spike and you don’t have to worry about a boring trip anymore. You’ll appreciate the good company.
Quick tip: Keep in mind that often times there’s rarely any good food on the road, and even if there is, kids can get food poisoning from eating contaminated food. So, always pack food. Also, consider your kids’ allergies or reactions to certain kinds of food. Pack non-perishable foods like dried fruits, seeds, granola, crackers, cereals, organic lollipops and other nutritious foods to keep your kids’ energy up.
6. Take advantage of pit stops- Before setting out on a road trip, do some research on where you are going to stop. You will find all the information on the internet. You can also go through reviews to find out what other people are saying about these places.
Try to stop as many times as possible to catch a breath of fresh air. Let the kids stretch. Road trips can be tiresome, so the more you stop, the better it is for your kids. Stops will help them rejuvenate and re-energize.
7. Play some music- Music is a good form of entertainment when on road trips. Play music that everyone in the car will enjoy. Make sure to create a Playlist for your family car with songs that all of you love to listen to.
You could also become a traveling band 🙂
Bring along musical instruments and play them along with the car stereo. It doesn’t matter if you are perfect or not. The whole point is to have lots of fun on the trip.
You can use tambourines; microphones and the driver could drum on the steering wheel as you sing along to your favorite songs. You don’t have to play the instruments for real, you can play pretend and just sing along with the stereo.
Singing can burn lots of your time. Plus you can record yourselves while doing it and save it to watch later.
8. Entertain them with gifts- We all love gifts, right? Buy gifts for your kids and give them while on the road. Let their faces light up while they unwrap what you have for them. They will never forget the trip, and you might be surprised if they keep them to commemorate the trips you had. You can let it be a culture so that each time you travel they also get something for you to make the trip more eventful. Kids learn fast.
You can buy random stuff before you leave then pack them and keep away for a surprise. Kids love surprises!
9. Relax and spy- You don’t have to put in so much effort in keeping your children occupied. Putting too much effort can be tiring for you and you might end up not enjoying the trip. So just go with the flow.
If they want to relax and enjoy the view, then let them do that. They don’t have to be doing anything. You can let them listen to their own music as they gaze out the window and get lost in their own world. Chances are, they’ll fall asleep while doing that. Which is a good thing because it means you also get to relax and have some time to yourself.
10. Listen to audiobooks- You can also listen to kid-friendly audiobooks on your road trip. Audiobooks are fun, interactive, and educative, so they get to learn something new as they enjoy their trip.
11. Transform your backseat into a cinema- You can let each child pick a movie for everyone in the car to watch. Well, everyone apart from the driver of course. You can kick things up a notch by packing popcorn and letting them eat popcorn while they watch the movies.
12. Play games- Play car games like Road Trip Bingo, I spy, Don’t say it, I’m going on a picnic, Who am I?, Joker, Singalong, Alphabet Race, Car color game, and Hypotheticals.
My kids love Road trip Bingo so much!
They each get a pen and paper and write down a list of 20-50 items (depending on the length of our trip). They list the objects they see along the way e.g a person on a bike, a blue van, a fast-food restaurant, a bus, etc. Everyone looks out for these objects and crosses them off when they see them. The first person to cross all items out calls BINGO and is the winner.
They really enjoy playing this game. They sometimes do it the entire way. So if you haven’t tried it out, please do.