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This summer we are taking our 5-year-old and 3-year-old on a road trip up to Donnelly, Idaho, for a family reunion (never heard of it? I hadn't either until I married my husband!). It is about a 9-hour drive from our home . . . our kids get pretty bored after about 90 minutes in the car, so I am a little nervous. I asked some of our Facebook readers to share some of their traveling secrets and the response was so awesome that I had to share some of the great ideas with you!
1. Print off this cute state license plate check list and see who can cross them all off the fastest!
2. Buy some of these Window Markers and let the kids go to town on the back windows. Wipe them clean with a baby wipe.
3. Use an empty DVD case to pack a small pad of paper and colored pencils inside. The hard case also makes the perfect writing surface!
4. Give your kids glow sticks, glow necklaces, or glow bracelets when traveling at night (I found lots at the dollar store). They will love how they glow and it is like a personal night light.
5. Play the Lines and Dots game (you can print it off here, along with instructions on how to play if you don't know).
6. To play the Lines and Dots game in #5, you will probably want a clipboard or hard surface for your kids to write on. Bring stickers and markers and let the kids decorate their own clipboard (I also found some clipboards at the dollar store).
9. There are websites that will allow you to type in your starting destination and ending destination and it will tell you all the interesting and fun places to stop on the way! You might try google maps or mapquest.com for fun ideas.
10. Go to your local library and check out some audio books on CD. The kids love to follow along in the book and Mom doesn't get car sick trying to read to the kids! A family favorite for my sister is Harry Potter.
11. Wrap a couple of small toys or trinkets from the Dollar Store. Wrap them in old wrapping paper and let the kids choose one every couple of hours. It's great to use as incentive to keep your kids good in the car! Our mom used to do this when we were little and I still remember how excited I would get about unwrapping something!
12. At the check out at the store, purchase one of those candy-filled toys. They are kind of expensive (I never let my kids buy them), but for long trips, they are awesome! We have bought a candy-filled camera and when you push a button, a little candy pops out. We have also bought an electronic sucker spinner and a battery-operated fan that was filled with candy. These silly toys entertained the kids for at least 40 minutes! Definitely worth the dollar or two to buy them!
13. Here is a fun site with tons of printable Mad Libs for Kids. Sometimes we do these as a family and my kids love to choose the craziest words they can think of.
14. Make a Stained Glass Window Picture.
15. Put together a Craft Kit before you leave and let your kids' imaginations go wild while you drive.
16. Buy a inexpensive cookie sheet and then make this Magnet Board on the Go! My kids love to play with magnets.
17. Using that same cookie sheet, you can use it as a hard surface for coloring (the edges keep the crayons from rolling away), playing Matchbox cars, Legos, or keeping other small items from falling on the floor. It's like their own personal play surface.
18. Purchase some cheap magnetic letters and numbers from the dollar store and let the kids spell words on the cookie sheet. Also attach pom-poms to magnets for more fun magnet toys.
19. Bring some pipe cleaner and let them use it to bend it, make shapes with it, mold stick people with it, make jewelry, etc, etc.
20. Pack some little snack bags with Froot Loops cereal and let the kids string it on the pipe cleaner (it's much easier than yarn). Doubles as a great snack!
21. Make this Homemade Gak before you leave. It really takes only 2 minutes to throw together, doesn't leave a mess behind, and provides lots of entertainment!
22. Print off this Travel Scavenger Hunt- here is one for preschoolers and one for older kids.
23. Make some fun file folder games and put them all together in a binder for easy traveling.
24. Find some toy catalogs or magazines. My kids LOVED looking through all the ads at Christmas time full of toys. Here is a fun one you can subscribe to for free.
25. Purchase some Fruit By The Foot snacks. I know that they aren't healthy, but my kids love that they are so long and it takes them forever to eat it. Plus, it's a special treat that they know they only get for special occasions.
26. Print off these cute paper dolls before you leave. If you wanted to, you could attach them to magnetic sheets and use them on your cookie sheet.
27. Purchase a new coloring book and crayons. Oh, the power of a new coloring book!
28. Bring a roll of aluminum foil and let the kids make animals, people, shapes, etc. Just don't let them bunch it into balls and start a throwing fight.
29. Make a trip notebook. Give each child a new notebook and let them draw pictures, put in stickers, take notes, tape in tickets or other paraphernalia from your trip. Add pictures you took from your camera at the end of your trip for a fun keepsake.
30. Play Road Trip Bingo. Have little prizes for the winners.
31. Make your own Dry Erase Board using a cookie sheet and then bring along some dry erase markers and a rag to use as an eraser.
32. Using the Pandora App, listen to a kid or family-friendly channel with music your whole family will like. We love the Disney channel. Or find some fun kid-friendly CD's that you will all enjoy.
33. Play the game 20 Questions as a family.
34. Make your own binder of activity pages. Fill a 3-ring binder with clear plastic sleeves. In the sleeves, put blank papers, and some simple games (hangman, tic-tac-toe, word searches, find the hidden pictures, and connect-the-dots). Use a 3-ring pencil bag to hold the dry erase markers and a rag to use as an eraser. The kids can doodle and play for hours, then wipe the sleeves clean.
35. Another special treat that my kids like are Ring Pops. They last forever and the kids love wearing them on their fingers.
36. Play Car Color Bingo- this bingo game is great for all ages!
37. Leave your house before the sun comes up (we are hoping to pull out at 5 am). My kids usually sleep until 8 am, so I am hoping that we will get at least a good hour or two of driving in before they wake up.
38. Give each child an inexpensive disposable camera (or maybe a kid-safe or old digital camera, if you have one) and let them document the vacation and road trip themselves.
39. Purchase some sticker books or activity books from the dollar store. My kids are obsessed with stickers- they love sticking them on their whole body. Give them some new stickers and let them go crazy! They may also want to put the stickers on a notebook or on paper.
40. Make some paper bag puppets and then put on a puppet show. This site has a TON of ideas for paper bag puppets.
41. Make your own Hedbanz game. We play this game at a lot of family parties and it would be a fun game for all ages to play in the car. You basically draw a card and without looking at it, put it on your "headband" (we have made headbands out of posterboard and then just tape the card on the front). You then have to ask other players questions about what is on your card (and they can only give yes or no answers) and try to guess what it is before time runs out. It's kind of a fun twist on 20 questions.
42. Play Would You Rather. Here are some funny adult-based questions and here are some funny questions for kids. After asking my daughter a couple of these questions, she likes to invent her own questions and then gets the giggles so bad that we have to stop playing.
43. Make a Cootie Catcher! This one comes with fortunes and this one is blank so you can make your own.
44. Make Road Trip Behavior Clips. I love the idea of rewarding good behavior!
45. Check out these Travel Tickets and Reward Tickets! Give each child enough tickets in a small baggie (one ticket for every half hour of driving). Collect a travel ticket every 30 minutes and when the tickets are all gone, you have arrived! I also love the idea of the Reward Tickets and trading them in for books, playtime on the iPad, a new toy, a snack, etc.
46. This is a fun game for mom and dad to play in the front seat while the kids are busy in the back . . . it's a Road Trip Questionnaire. Print it off and get to know each other even better than you thought you did! You could also ask your kids these questions.
47. Play this Road Trip Scavenger Hunt! This is one of the most creative ideas I have seen. Some of the items you look for are hilarious!
48. Give your child a new pack of markers and let them go to town on coloring this Intricate Coloring Page. I would have loved something like this when I was little!
49. Play Alphabet-athon and see who can get the most points. I have never even heard of this game (it's kind of like Scattegories), but I know that we will be playing it (at least me and my husband will!).
50. Make a Travel Treat box to keep the mess and snacking to a minimum. Hopefully my kids will not eat all their food with the first hour! Ha ha!
Our cookbook makes a wonderful gift (and it's priced right at less than $18!) . . . you can check it out HERE.