1. The Alphabet Game. Pick a topic – animals, for instance – Start with A, and let each person in turn name an animal that begins with a letter of the alphabet. To make things more challenging, ask each person to recite all the animals that have been named so far, as they go along. When you reach Z, begin again with a different topic.
2. The License Plate Game. See how many different state license plates you can spot on your trip. Keep a list of your sightings or before your trip, print out a map of the U.S., and check off each state when you see a vehicle with that plate.
3. Picture it. Give each child an inexpensive disposable camera, and allow them to take photos of anything of interest they see along the way. After the trip, have the photos developed and let each child create their own homemade storybook about their travels.
4. Aluminum foil art. Take along a roll of aluminum foil and let your kids use it to craft their own creations. They might try making jewelry, animal sculptures, hats, cars… the possibilities are as endless as their imaginations!
5. Travel bingo and other games. Pick up a set of travel bingo boards at the local dollar store… the ones with the little red windows that slide across each square as the letters and numbers are called. Or look for other travel games with magnetic pieces that won't get lost.
6. Counting games. Assign each member of the family something specific to count along your route. Think cows, fire trucks, trains, police cars, horses, American flags, etc. Tally up each person's score at every rest stop to see who has the most points.
7. The Drawing Game. Pass around a piece of paper, and let everyone add one line until it forms a picture. When the picture is complete, let the kids color it in.
8. 20 Questions. In this classic game, Player 1 thinks of an object; then the other players, in turn, ask one question at a time to try and guess what it is. But the limit is 20 questions. If they haven't guessed by then, Player 1 wins!
9. Travel totes. This one takes a little advance planning, but it's worth it! Pick up an inexpensive tote bag for each child and fill it with books, crayons, coloring books, a note pad, their favorite portable snacks and treats, and a favorite toy. Each child having their own bag will eliminate back seat battles over whose turn it is to use the crayons next!
10. Roadside attractions and tacky tourist traps. Factor in a little fun along the road by stopping at one offbeat spot: a quirky souvenir stand; a local advertising oddity like a gigantic chicken statue, an unusual roadside museum, or maybe even a diner in the shape of a hot dog. Even a quick pit stop in a fun spot can refresh and revive everyone, and inspire lively conversation for the rest of the trip.
What are some of your family's favorite road trip activities?