One of the primary problems with traveling with children is that they are easily bored, and bored children will find creative ways to be annoying and distracting to us adults. Even really good and well behaved children can become aggressively bothersome when they have nothing to do. Within the confines of a moving car this tendency can be a serious problem. One good way to avoid the hassle is to have several games and activities ready to engage the kids’ minds while the wheels turn.
Education is a wonderful thing, but most kids don’t want to play games that test their knowledge of geography or civics. They do like to show off other sorts of observational skills, however. A game my parents used back in the day before iPods and such was called “Backwards”. To play backwards the person whose turn it is chooses a word and writes it secretly on a piece of paper. Then he or she says the first letter of the word and everyone gets the chance to name the word. Once everyone has had a chance, the player who is ‘it’ says the second letter, and so forth until the word is found. The person who says the word first gets to be the next ‘it’.
The alphabet game is a tried and true favorite as well. In the alphabet game each person tries to find words that begin with each letter of the alphabet on the road signs or vehicles that are passed. Each person calls out the name of the letter he or she has found along with the word that begins with that letter. For instance Johnny would call out, “A – Albany, B branch, C – City,” and so forth. The first to reach Z wins. Playing the alphabet in reverse is an interesting variation of the same game.
A third game is the called Tag. In this game each child tries to find a particular make and model of automobile or truck amongst the vehicles passing. The person designated as the first ‘it’ gets to name the vehicle to look for and the one who spots it gets to name the next make and model target.
Keeping the kids’ minds engaged on a road trip can take a lot of the stress off everyone in the car. It is also a lot of fun to play games with them.