Road trips can be the enemy of parents. Hours spent in a car with a child asking “are we there yet?” Or worse, bickering siblings who can’t keep their hands to themselves! But perhaps that is the charm of the road trip!
The trick to a successful road trip (other than loads of snacks and patience) is a little planning. Planning the route, timing when you leave to make the most of clear roads or kids nap times and planning how you will spend the hours together in the car. In the interests of sanity and peace, here are five road trip games and activities to try on your next family trip.
Depending on the road you are driving on, eye spy is a fun game to get kids looking up from screens and out into the world around them. If all you are going to spy on the journey is trees and cars then it could tire easily, although it is probably quite fun for younger kids who don’t seem to mind the repetition.
If you will be stopping at least once on the road trip, prepare a treasure hunt in advance to give you the opportunity to really stretch your legs. The nature scavenger hunt from Issue 30 of Kid Magazine might be a good place to start. Or come up with your own depending on where you will be stopping. If it will be a roadside rest stop, maybe a challenge to take photos of certain objects, like straws or slides could be fun. Or if you are heading to a small town it could be to find certain shops or different coloured cars.
When I was a kid we would spend every road trip listening to audio tapes (yes, cassettes) on our road trips. A family favourite as my sister and I got older was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was so nice to sit back, look out the window and just listen to the story, all laughing along together. These days, there are so many audio options for car travel. Download some kid friendly podcasts or audio books onto your phone or iPad before you go. A mix of education and fun will provide variety and interest.
Go off the beaten track
On our regular road trips to Canberra, rather than just stopping on the side of the road at McDonalds, we always take the drive in to Bowral. It adds a little time to our journey but we can get a nice coffee and find a park for a play, giving us all a chance to stretch our legs. Roadside service stations are great but heading into small towns on the road is not only fun for the family but also gives those small towns, who may not see much tourist traffic, a boost. Eating a snack out of the boot of the car may even be enough of an adventure!
Start a conversation
The car is an ideal place to have a conversation with kids. You might find with older kids that it is often where they will bring up sensitive or difficult topics with you as they are in a non-confrontational and safe environment. Use the opportunity of a long road trip to talk to your kids and have some family time. The FuelBox Family box is perfect for this. The box contains 176 cards, each with a question designed to spark fun and conversation within a family. Questions like “what could be the title of the movie of your life?” or “what would you like us to do more of as a family?” You could ask one every hour or between games to break up the trip.
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