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Keeping Your Kids Occupied In the Car

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Traveling in the car is an experiment to detect the level of your patience, your sanity, and to test the strength of the bonds in your family. Nearly everyone has been on that never-ending road trip where it’s nearly impossible to keep the kids occupied. Dad won’t ask for directions, and you’re clearly lost. Mom is angry at Dad, and tension is running high in the car. If you’re planning to travel, with children, a distance longer than four hours, it’s a good idea to develop a plan before getting in the car. You’ll thank yourself for it, when you arrive at your destination and everyone still likes each other.

As a result of extensive road trips, we’ve had to find a way to cope in the car. The parents want to keep the kids entertained enough that they’re not asking that mind-numbing question that comes up in every car ride; are we there yet?   The kids want to get through the trip so they can enjoy their vacation, and in order to do this, the parents can’t be angry at each other when they arrive. One of the best coping mechanisms ever thought up is the driving game; a fun way to engage everyone in the car and pass the time.

Most of these driving games are classics, invented a long time ago by annoyed parents. These days, many of these kids take bored kids, who are overstimulated by their electronic devices and find a constructive way to pass the time in the car. They’re a great way to get the whole family involved, and keep the focus on their surroundings and not what is flashing on the tiny TV screen in front of them. While there are many games in existence to keep people busy, here are some of the greats!

  • I Spy – It all starts with the phrase, “I spy with my little eye…”, and things go from there. Whether you use the letter the object begins with, or the color of the object, each passenger takes a turn at locating an object and the others have to guess what that person has picked. There are rules, however. It’s optimal to pick something fixed, and not something that you’re simply speeding past on the highway. A bridge in the distance, a mountain range, a landmark, etc. are all acceptable targets, but the cow in the field you passed nine miles back, isn’t really fair.
  • The License Plate Game – Before you leave, compile a list of all fifty states, and include Canada’s provinces as well, for an added challenge. Give everyone who can read, and isn’t driving a copy of the list (this game works better with older kids). As you pass cars, cross off the state’s license plates that you’re passing. The kids will have a blast trying to spot the different plates, and the trip time will fly by. On a side note: don’t offer money for each state seen, or you may be making a sizable investment when you reach your destination.
  • Name That Tune – This game will require a diverse music library and children old enough to know the names of songs. You could play it with children’s music, but you’ll most likely be dreadfully annoyed with yourself and every musical artist by the time you get to where you’re going. Play the first couple seconds of a song, and see who is the first to name that tune by the song name and artist. This is really fun for teenagers, and adults alike, as it will increase their musical knowledge and eat away the time.
  • Count It Out – For smaller children, this is a great game to keep them occupied in the car. At the beginning of the ride, shout out something you want them to count. Livestock, bridges, red cars, cars missing a headlight, or even road signs. This game helps to increase counting skills, and also keeps the kids focused on their surroundings rather than being focused on asking that infernal question. To switch things up, change the object every hour or so. They’ll have a blast, and you never know, you might have a fun too.
  • 20 Questions – This is a great game for all ages, and it’s better than hearing people argue. Think of something, a person, place, or thing, and tell the other people in the car when you’ve thought of it. Then they are free to ask you questions pertaining to what you’re thinking. As you answer the questions, they’re able to narrow down the topic. If they figure it out before they’ve asked 20 different questions, then they win. If they can’t guess before the questions run out, you win. Each person in the car can take a turn, and before you know it, the trip is over.

Some people love being on the open road, and all they need is music to keep them entertained, but rarely are kids part of this group. Anyone can get bored when spending too much time in the car, so we’ve come up with some fun ways to pass the time. There are a lot more games out there, just do your research before planning your vacation. You’ll thank yourself.

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