Travelling with a car full of kids need not be a test of your patience. Sure, there are hand-held computer games and DVD players for some relief during long trips, but travelling can also be about enjoying the journey and family fun. Here's a list of great activities and car games to while away the hours.
1. Memory book
Buy a hardcover book with blank pages in any stationary store; pack a roll of tape, some coloured pencils, a pair of scissors and a camera. (Digital shots can be printed out during a pit stop for lunch. Don't forget batteries, ink cartridge and paper). Pass the book around and let each person record their experiences, sketch interesting things they have seen, paste in post-cards, photos, recipes, tourist information, reviews of restaurants, and descriptions of hotels, motels, or campgrounds.
If stopping to visit old friends, get them to sign the book. By the end of the trip it will be a wonderful treasure that adults, teens, and younger children will cherish for years to come. It will also be a great reference for when someone says -- "What was the name of that place that served those huge home-made fries?"
2. Scavenger hunt
Prepare a list of 10 items for each child to spot along the route. Each list is different. Whoever spots their ten items first wins the game. Then the lists are switched. A typical list might consist of a man riding a bike, a woman walking a dog, a taxi, a police car, a horse in a field, a pigeon, or a park bench. A good list has a blend of easy, moderate and some difficult items to find. The winner's prize is a little extra something when the family stops for refreshments.
3. Spell me
Each child has to spell their first name using only the first letter in the license plates of vehicles around them. First one to find all letters wins. Another spin on this game is for one adult to think of something just seen like "freeway off-ramp" and the kids have to guess the word or phrase. As skills improve, it turns into a charade.
4. Red car/blue car
Younger children can play this game. One child counts the red vehicles and another child counts the blue vehicles. If there are three children, simply add a colour. The children set a number – 10, 25, or even 100. Whoever reaches the target number first is the winner.
Older children may want to switch to model types. For example, one child counts the number of American models while another counts the number of Japanese models. There are infinite spins on this game. For example, adults pick out a car ahead and the kids have to figure out which country it is from (eg. the Volvo comes from Sweden.)
5. Character cars
They are out there, those funky vehicles that make us laugh. It could be a amusing bumper sticker (write the slogans down in the memory book), or the Volks bus with 1,000 travel decals pasted all over the body, or that small vehicle with the great big couch tied onto the roof. Or even that vintage car with the "Ah-OUU-ga" horn. See who can find the funniest vehicle.
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