How To Keep Kids Entertained During Long Car Trips

This gives a few suggestions for inexpensive and relatively quiet games kids can play during a long car trip. They are from my childhood, but they never get old!

Maybe I should start this article by saying that I don't have kids. Now, before you tell me that this means I can't *possibly* know what I'm talking about, there is more than one way to approach this. I'm not a parent, but I've been the kid in the backseat during a long car trip *many, many* times! We lived on the beach in North Carolina, so anytime visiting certain relatives meant at least six hours in a car.  Unlike a lot of kids today, my sister and I didn't have the benefit of portable DVD players or iPods, so we had to figure out other things to do to pass the time.  Trust me, few things are more boring than driving on deserted 'country roads' the way we had to sometimes when going to visit my mom's family in Arkansas! I'll let you in on a few of those things-at least, the ones that didn't drive our parents crazy!

-'Out-of-state license-plate Bingo'. Many of our long car trips involved driving through a few states, and so we saw a *lot* of unusual license plates.  You can make up 'bingo cards' with the states' names on them and have the kids mark each one off with a crayon, or just keep score yourself and award a 'point' for the child who sees different states' license plates first. We would sometimes get 'bonus points' for seeing plates from Canada or from states that are really far away from where we were. A lot of the time we forgot about any 'prize' by the time we got to wherever we were going. :)

-Hand-held puzzles or games.  I'm not thinking of the 'jigsaw' type of puzzle, as it would be really easy to lose a piece between the seat cushions.  I'm also not thinking of the electronic games you get in the video-game section of the store, because those can get expensive. We never had all that 'fancy' stuff, so we just made do with the 'old standbys'. This of course includes the Rubix Cube, but I'm thinking of some even older than that. Some of the puzzles I liked the most are the ones my parents had as kids, where you are trying to get two things apart. It's usually something like nails or plastic rings that are connected together and the challenge is to try to separate them-this is usually much easier said than done!  We also enjoyed the 'sliding puzzles', where you had a 'plate' with tiles on it. The object was to slide the tiles into place to make a picture without taking the tiles out of the box. My sister was much better at these than I was.

-The Alphabet Game. No car trip is complete without The Alphabet Game! This is one I played when I was the only kid on the trip, and I still do this sometimes when I'm bored riding in the car. The premise is simple-find an instance of each letter of the alphabet on the various signs and billboards on the side of the road. It sounds really easy, at least until you get to 'J' or 'Q'!. 

Here are some inexpensive ways to keep kids entertained on long car trips. I know a lot of these ideas seem really 'dated', but some things never stop being fun. Have a good trip!

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Val Mills
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Posted on May 22, 2010
Kaleidoscope Acres
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Posted on May 19, 2010