If you’re planning to hit the road this summer, I know that you’re probably already asking yourself one question, “How in the world am I going to keep these kids quiet and happy from Point A to Point B?!” Okay, scrap the happy. They don’t have to be happy (even though that’s, of course, ideal). As long as they’re quiet. On long road trips loud screamy kids can be the death of your sanity.
So before you rip your hair out at the very thought of bored, screaming, fighting sounds from the backseat, check out these suggestions. You know by now that we are self-proclaimed road trip warriors. We have made 1 trip to Texas, 1 trip to Arkansas, 4 trips to Florida and 2 trips to North Carolina (all from our home in Pennsylvania) since having Lily. Oh, and who could forget our Twizzlers Traveling Family trip to Massachusetts?!
Since I already shared my toddler road trip ideas in another post, this one focuses on the older kid age-set. I’d recommend these activies for the pre-k through tween crowd, of course depending on your kids and their individual interests.
Here are 8 great boredom busters to pack for your next road trip!
1. Pipe Cleaners – Pick up a pack or two at your local dollar store. If you have older kids, throw in a pack of beads for jewelry creations. Even if you skip the beads, there’s plenty of fun to be had. These kept Lily entertained for hours! Shapes, bracelets, patterns, anything and everything she could think of were made.
2. Popsicle Sticks – While you’re at the dollar store buying pipe cleaners, pick up a pack of popsicle sticks too. Lily had a great time decorating these with markers and crayons. She made puppets, had fun counting the sticks and grouping them. She even shared them with Landon who had a blast trying to drop them in an empty water bottle.
3. Hula Hoop – We found these at the dollar store but also check out Walmart, Target or Five and Below. Pick up a hula hoop and toss it in the car for rest stops. These are brilliant for letting kids burn off a little steam! We brought them specifically for our rest stops en route to the Outer Banks last summer, but the kids continued to play with them the entire week that we were at the beach!
4. Model Magic – I bought a case of Model Magic and split it with my sister. Trip after trip it proves to be a fabulous boredom buster. I keep a couple of these small packs in my diaper bag and purse – they are great to pull out when there’s a long wait at a restaurant, doctor’s office, etc.
5. Books – Don’t overlook this timeless classic. LOL Getting lost in a good book can make any trip go a little quicker. If your kids are anywhere from emergent readers to expert bookworms, a couple of new books are always great road trip activities. I like to pick up books on the super cheap at consignment sales (we’re talking $.50/book) or thrift stores (sometimes for as low as $.10/book). I hide them away until we leave for the next trip.
6. Write a Letter Pack – I love this idea for two reasons – it not only promotes literacy but it also finds a use for old note cards, etc that might be lying around your house. I gathered up a bunch of old Vistaprint postcards that we over-ordered (pictured above are thank you cards from Lily’s 1st birthday party AND from our WEDDING). I put them in a gallon ziploc bag with some blank envelopes. Lily wrote letters to her cousin, grandparents and other friends as we drove!
7. BUBBLES – Because, well, who doesn’t love bubbles? Pack a bottle of bubbles and pull them out at a rest stop. We have stopped at some great highway rest areas that have plenty of grassy areas to run around. This one in particular was a picnic grove at Morris Farm Market – a stop we always make on the way to the Outer Banks. Check out the picture below – yes, that’s Bob. About a foot off the ground. Popping bubbles with his head. :D
8. Techy Gadget Mania – Okay. So listen. While I might not toss the kids an iPod for a drive across town, I certainly have no problem cracking them out for longer car rides. We sometimes drive more than 12 hours in a day and by the end of those 12 hours, the kids can veg out to some tv all they want.
We pack the iPod, Innotab and have a dual screen DVD player for movies. Lily uses headphones with her various devices, which of course reminds me of when the kids use headphones to drown out their parents’ singing in one of my favorite road trip movies off all time.
Make sure you pack plenty of batteries for your devices. I highly recommend purchasing car chargers whenever possible. Between car chargers for when you’re on the road and AC wall plugs for the hotel room, you can save the batteries for times when you’re without another energy source.
We have Streaming Netflix and take full advantage of hotels that offer free WiFi during our trips. The kids can stream movies and shows to their hearts’ content and it’s all included in our monthly Netflix membership. This is especially handy when the hotels don’t get the channels they like, for example Disney Junior.
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