Anyone who has driven long distances with kids in the car know that it can be a special brand of torture. After all, kids are strapped into their seats with nothing to do and no place to go. Complaining and whining is sure to result and before long, everyone is miserable.
Before you set off for your Thanksgiving trip this year, prepare yourself with some fun games to help keep everyone busy and happy on the trip.
Learn a Little (Secretly)
If you are driving long distances, give each child a map of the area in which you’ll be driving. Give them a marker to note your route as you go, plus a blank notebook in which they can take notes, draw pictures, and write down what they see.
You can also find guidebooks about many areas across the United States, so stock up on ones applicable to your travels. Read aloud about each area as you pass through and play games to see which kid can spot the landmark or item mentioned in the guidebook first.
The name game (aka Noun game)
This is a fun game and tests your kid’s memory – and yours too. Everyone can participate and all must pay close attention. The way it starts is one person calls out the first letter of the alphabet and assigns a noun to it (person, thing, place or idea). For example, “A is for “Alligator”. The next person must repeat what the previous person said, “A is for Alligator” and then start with the next letter of the alphabet, “and B is for Butter”. The next person must say what the previous persons said and then continue with the next letter and so on. When you get to the last letter of the alphabet, “Z”, that person will have the big challenge of reciting all the previous letters and nouns. It’s fun, it tests everyone’s memory and before you know it, you’ll be at your destination.
Sure, your teenagers may complain loudly at first, but stock up ahead of time with CDs complete with favorite songs from each person in the family. Play the CDs, and remind everyone that an open mind is a requirement. Then see who can sing each song back the best. You may just find that you gain a new appreciation for some of the popular teen music out there, and your kids might just have to acknowledge that Eric Clapton or Inxs is cool after all.
I spy with my little eye… something that’s round and blue. This classic car ride game can actually keep kids of all ages entertained for quite a bit. Let everyone take turns, and be creative.
Give each family member the task of deciding what their favorites were for each day you travel. For example, what was your favorite moment? Landmark? Restaurant? You can expand the game to general favorites, such as favorite ice cream flavors, best movie of all time, etc. You may be surprised at all the cool things you learn about each other.
Long road trips can be difficult, no doubt about it. But if you prepare ahead of time with some fun games, you might enjoy the whole trip more than you think.