Road triiiip! Oh wait … road trip.
If poorly planned, time spent crammed in a car can seem eternal, especially if you have children to keep entertained in the back seat. But a well-thought-out ride can help make the time fly (and heck, it might even be fun!). When you're pondering what to pack for a long road trip, here are five suggestions for low-cost entertainment that will keep everyone happy and your trip on track.
Remember the Old Standards
There's a reason why classic games like Eye Spy, Tic-Tac-Toe and 20 Questions persist. With little or no preparation or equipment required, they're a natural solution for what to do in the car on a road trip, and they're easily adaptable for all ages. Other classics include licence plate games, travel bingo, guess that song, the alphabet game, trivia, and conversation or story starters. Heaps of free printables for these games and more can readily be found online and printed ahead of time.
Create a Lap Board
Turn a (magnetic) baking tray into a children's workstation/lap table. By hot-gluing magnets to pencil crayons, workbooks, sketchpads or activity sheets and so on, you can help prevent the struggle to retrieve dropped items. Older children might opt for a pencil case and a hard-cover binder filled with paper-based activities (such as word searches, journal pages, stickers or a map to follow the trip's progress).
Good ol' books—they're low-tech, with age-appropriate options aplenty, and free to borrow from your local library. Audio books are also a great solution, especially for pre-readers, reluctant readers, or those prone to car sickness. (Tip: audio books can also save you from going hoarse from endlessly reading out loud.)
Prepare Goody Bags
There's no sense unleashing all your carefully thought-out activities at once; instead, try creating smaller lunch-bag-sized goody bags that can be doled out at regular intervals—say, once an hour or per unit of distance travelled. Fill them with such treats as brain teasers, cards, notepad and pens, small craft kits or supplies, snacks (President's Choice products to the rescue!), word searches, flash cards and so on, with the intent of keeping the activities fresh and all passengers anticipating the next batch of surprises.
Learn a New Skill
Why not put those long road hours to good use by learning something new? Loads of teaching aids are available online or through the library to help you learn everything from knitting, beadwork and drawing, to disciplines such as amateur geology ("Hey Mom, pull over, I see a cool rock!"), or even a new language. Now that's education on the go!
Armed with these ideas for what to take on a road trip, boredom is one thing you won't be bringing along for the ride.