I have three kids under the age of nine, so on many road trips, we try to put together a route that allows us some fun detours along the way to keep everyone engaged. But without those distractions, I understand how tempting it is to purchase three iPads and hook them up to their favorite movies while you kick back and relax on your road trip. I’ll admit, I’ve done this and reaped the rewards of a silent back seat!
That said, there’s nothing more gratifying than making lasting memories by taking full advantage of your children’s undivided attention during a road trip. If I’m being honest, mobile devices will still be a part of our road trip. But there are some really fun road trip games for kids that keep us engaged with one another and entertained for hours—so much so that I’m usually the first to break and say, “Okay, y’all ready to watch a movie now?”
TRY A TWIST ON I SPY
I Spy is one of the more common road trip games for kids, but in our family, my three-year-old son was the one who it into something unique. He used to say, “I spy something green,” and we would all try to guess, “Tree? Grass? Streetlight?” Then he would blurt out, “Hulk smash!” Clearly, he didn’t get it. His interpretation of the game actually evolved into a version we now play called “I spy a Disney character.” The rules are that one person thinks of a character (you can pick any genre or theme you want) and the other players take turns asking yes-or-no questions. “Is it a villain? Is it a boy? Is it a human? Is it Peter Pan?” The kids love this game, and it really gets us all thinking.
ENGAGE IN SOME STICKY WINDOW ART
As long as you don’t have a dog in the car (they like to try to eat these), purchase a few packs of window gel stickers. My kids love to put them up on the car windows to decorate the inside. The stickers peel off easily, so they can do this over and over again without any harm to your vehicle. My kids also like the way these feel and love to trade each other for different shapes. You can find these window stickers online or in the seasonal bargain bin at stores like Target.
DRAW UNTIL YOU CAN’T DRAW ANY LONGER
If your kids are old enough to draw pictures, they’ll love to play this game. You’ll need a large notepad and a pencil. First, come up with a theme—for example, Christmas! Then, the first player draws something related to the theme, such as a candy cane, and then passes the notepad to the next player to draw something else related, such as Santa. You pass the notepad around and around until someone can’t think of anything else to draw. It’s fun to see what your kids’ imaginations come up with! Oh, and one more thing—make sure to put a date on the paper as it makes a great keepsake you can share with your kids when they get older.
BRING ON THE NOISE (IF YOU CAN HANDLE IT)
This one comes with a caveat—this game is a bit noisy and has the potential of becoming incredibly annoying. The trade-off is that kids really enjoy it. They take turns passing around this Simon game. It’s a classic game where you watch a sequence of lights and then try to repeat it. We had this game when I was a kid, but now it comes in a micro size, perfect for a road trip. The game says it is best for ages eight and up, but my six-year-old has no trouble keeping up. There are two game modes: solo or pass, allowing you to play with more than one player. Again, the beeping might quickly grow tiresome, but it keeps the kids engaged. Pack some extra batteries for them and some earplugs for you in the event that this game is a huge hit!
These are just a few of the road trip games for kids that my family of five likes to play. Wherever your next road trip takes you, I hope this encourages you to resist the urge to depend solely on apps and mobile devices and to get back to the basics with some fun brainteasers and road trip games that stimulate your imagination.