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 101 Car Travel Games & Ideas for Kids
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Category — fun for the road

Duct Tape Fixes Everything …Almost

Ever have one of those road trips where you are at  your wits end, and you are actually considering the all-inclusive fix-it tool –  duct tape? Before resorting to this extreme parenting method, consider a couple of alternative car games instead:

SWEET OR SOUR
“Sweet or Sour” is an amusing game for all ages.  When you are stuck in traffic on the highway, this is a great time to play this game.   Wave to the people wave at one of the cars close to you, or do something else to get their attention.  If the person waves or honks back they are sweet.  If  you know they can see you, but they are pretending they don’t, then that car is sour.  You play as a whole car or individually, but keep track of the people who are sweet and sour. You get extra points if the person honks.  Keep score or just a record of all the Sweet vs. Sour cars, and see if you can improve your results on the next trip.

THE QUARTER GAME  (A variation of The Quiet Game, but with reward!)
“When the kids start getting bored and my nerves are getting frayed, we play the “Quarter Game.” It’s simple — which ever child doesn’t speak for the longest time gets a quarter. It’s a fun, friendly competition plus it gives Mom and Dad a few quiet moments to regain sanity.  Kids love it too!”   (Submitted by reader, Samantha. Thanks!)

 

So, before you break out the drastic car management tactics like duct taping your darling children’s smiles, renew their dental insurance and let those pearly whites gleam as you travel the highways in harmony because you kept them happy and occupied on the road.  And before anyone gets excited, the kids featured in the photo are my darling nephews who volunteered for this shot! Thanks guys! You are too cute.

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February 16, 2013   1 Comment

Let Kids Ham It Up for Family Vacation Pics

Universal Studios Jurassic Park photosDo your kids refuse to cooperate for family vacation photos?  If you are a photo-taking maniac, chances are good that they are sick of posing in front of touristy spots for family pictures.  If you can’t get them to cooperate at all, then I have the cure. Let them “not cooperate”.  Have you looked at your teen’s facebook page lately?  It is loaded with really strange and goofy self portraits of themselves and equally odd photos of their friends. That is apparently what teens are after these days.

So let them be goofy. You already have enough “pretty” pictures of your kids, so why not just let them be dorks, and take photos of them having tons of fun!

In other words, when you’re on vacation, don’t pose them in front of cool stuff and and order your children to put on fake smiles — get involved!  Ham it up!!  Your photos will really capture the fun they are having and they won’t whine every time you want to take their picture.  It will make the trip all the more memorable, and they’ll have fun at the same time.  No doubt they will probably even share these “family pictures” with their friends, and you’ll have memories for a lifetime.

(These photos were taken during our Thanksgiving trip to Universal Islands of Adventure Tips at the Jurassic Park section of the park.)

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October 4, 2012   Comments Off

Have a Jolly Roger Good Time in the Car

September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!  This is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your Pirate Speak for your next road trip where you can carry out your adventures with your own pirate personas.  Nothing beats traveling like a band of merry men aboard your road ship.  In my article “Pirates of the Caravana” you’ll find some great ideas on how to pass the time on the road while becoming thick as thieves. There you’ll also find a whole list of basic pirate terms that you can teach your crew, and if you’re lucky, they will love to follow orders!

One of my favorite pirate activities for the road is telling pirate jokes.  How much does it cost for a pirate to get his ears pierced? About a buck an ear! Arrrrrrrrr!!!

Another is to make pirate accessories out of aluminum foil while you’re on the road. It’s easy, cheap and fun and will keep your little buccaneers happy and busy while you’re out on the high seas!

 

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September 18, 2012   Comments Off

Mistaken Identity – Oops that’s not my car

OK, seriously, who else has done this? I cannot be the only person who has actually gotten into the wrong vehicle by accident. With all the look-a-like minivans around here, surely someone has even gotten into mine!

The first time it happened to me, I was chatting away with my friend Devra on my cell phone as I left the grocery store with one small bag in my hand.   I was immersed in our usual hilarious banter and her delightful puns as I opened the door to my silver minivan,  sat in the driver’s seat, and started to set my bag down next to me.  As I looked in the rear view mirror, I was stunned to see the hatch was open and there a man loading groceries into my van!  What the ?!   Then it happened — my brain kicked in.    This is not my minivan.    It’s his.

Oops.

I grabbed my bag, slipped out of the door, and started to walk back so I could apologize to the man.  Then I realized that he was so immersed in loading groceries into his man-van that he had NOT EVEN SEEN ME!  I began laughing hysterically to my friend on the phone.  From her perspective I had just taken a double dose of crazy as I cackled like a hyena, and I could barely even tell her what had just transpired.

I gets better.  If you were reading carefully, you may have noticed that I wrote, “the first time it happened…”   This bit of foreshadowing tells you that it has happened again.  My poor Sylvia (the name I give my current Mother Ship) must be suffering from an identity crisis, and I am getting a reputation for not recognizing my own car!  There have been several other times I have walked up to the wrong shiny  silver van with keys in hand, frantically clicking the unlock button until I realize my mistake.  I swear that I am not even on the phone when I’ve done it, however, I do get the urge to call Devra when it happens.  Sometimes I do.  And we laugh.

Seriously — Has this happened to anyone else?

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July 23, 2012   Comments Off

Pets on Vacation

It’s becoming more and more popular these days to take your pet with you on vacation, and pet owners want to keep their pets safe and comfortable.  I just got an awesome pet carrier from Sherpa Pet!  Mine is the Legacy Ultimate model and it is SUPER CUTE.  My cat Rocky can now ride in style!  They also have many other models which are very reasonably priced. (Rocky is frequently featured on my daughter’s @dailycats  Instagram account and DailyCatPictures .com) 

I especially love the super soft removable pad on the bottom that can be easily washed. The side pocket is perfect for holding small items like treats, leashes, and vaccination records that are usually required when you travel.

There is a top opening so your tiny dog can stick his head out while you’re carrying him around for a great view, and then zip it up when he has to be tucked away for takeoff.  To prevent him from jumping out, there is a clip on the inside where you can hook his harness and keep him safe.

Carriers by Sherpa are airline/subway/rail approved for carrying your pet on-board.  This is the only pet carrier company that has a partnership with all the major airlines.  So, if you’re getting ready to take Fifi on a plane ride to a far off exotic destination like the beautiful  Waikiki hotels, you’ll want to check out the Guaranteed On Board program before traveling.

Truth be told, my cat does not usually accompany us on many long trips. He does, however, take a lot of mini-vacations with us to relatives houses. For travelers with small dogs, I cannot think of anything better than this soft sided carrier.  One bit of advice: do not just show up at the airport with your pet!  Be sure to check out all the requirements and fees of your airline for carrying a pet on board BEFORE you head to the airport so that you won’t get turned away and for the safety of your pet. Happy travels to all those furry travelers!

 

Update:

Here are a few handy tips from the pet travel experts at Sherpa Pet Group to make the most of airline travel with your feline or canine:

  • Book your reservations early and check the airline’s latest pet policies.
  • Obtain a general health certificate and a rabies vaccination certificate from your veterinarian within 10 days of your departure.
  • Choose nonstop flights if at all possible to help eliminate pet anxiety.
  • Early morning or late evening flights work best in warmer weather.
  • Pets younger than eight weeks old or weaned less than five days prior to the flight are prohibited.
  • Allow plenty of time to exercise your pet, and give them a “potty break” when you arrive at the airport and before you enter the security area.
  • Avoid giving your pet a large meal prior to the flight. Instead, bring along healthy, all-natural and easily digestible snacks

If traveling by car, here are a few rules of the road:

  • Never allow your cat to roam freely inside your vehicle. Always keep it secured in a carrier. 
  • Always restrain your dogs in a carrier, or with a harness or pet car seat. And never attach a restraining device to a pet’s collar. Always use a harness to prevent injury. 
  • Stop every few hours to stretch your legs and provide your pet a much-appreciated pit stop. Never let your dog jump out of the car without a leash.
  • Bring your own supply of clean water and your pet’s bowls, as fresh water is not always handy or convenient when you need to stop.
  • Encourage your pet to consume small amounts of food and water, but don’t allow them to overeat or drink if you still have more driving to do. Reserve your pet’s main meal for the end of the day, preferably when you have reached your final destination for the night.
  • Be considerate and practice good “petiquette” by cleaning up after your pet. Always keep a supply of pick-up bags with you.
  • NEVER leave a pet in a parked car.
  • Pack a pet first-aid kit, your pet’s medical records, medications and health certificate.
  • Make sure your pets are micro-chipped, and bring the chip ID number and telephone number to call if they become lost. Be sure to have a travel tag on your pet’s collar.

 

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July 18, 2012   Comments Off

Car Games with a Kleenslate

NOTE FROM ROAD TRIP MOM: This is a guest post by one of my favorite road trip kids – Carlie!  She recently took a trip with us as part of a carload of Girl Scouts on our way to camp  and road tested this product!

Rolling Reviews from the Backseat — Kleenslate  — By: Carlie F.

Recently we tried some Kleenslate paddles on our long drive to camp, and we were able to have a new experience in road trip games. We could do all kinds of things with this cool dry erase board, including writing song lyrics, practicing handwriting, being an artist while mixing colors, or designing a new species of animal.  The Kleeslate would be great for a wide range of age groups who ride in your car on a next road trip.

On our trip, our favorite games were ones that we made up ourselves, such as the “Emotion Potion” game which was funny and a great way for us to pass the time and have a laugh at our silly selves. Overall this prop was fantastic in almost every way. We did however experience a few bumps in our experience of using the Kleenslate. When we were writing we found that the marker would sometimes get on our pants, or the writing would become permanent on the board if you didn’t erase it soon after it had been used.  Overall we really enjoyed our use of the Kleen Slate compared to an ordinary white board that you might find at school.

Here are some of the games we played with it on our trip:

Emotion Potion
One child closes their eyes and passes around their board, while the rest of the passengers write down their feelings or emotion at that exact moment. Once they are done the person who had their eyes closed tries to guess which person in the car has that emotion (Hint: Try to disguise your handwriting so that the person guessing will not know who wrote that emotion.) Some suggestions for the emotions are depressed, funky, or even disturbed!

Restaurant
Pretend to be waiters/waitresses at your favorite restaurant. You take someone’s order, and then draw their meal before serving it to them.

Unseen Faces
Everyone closes their eyes and tries to draw the shape of the face on their own Kleen Slate board, but without looking! You must draw the entire face without lifting your pen. Try to draws all parts of the face such as a nose, lips, eyes, freckles or any other thing that could be on a face. Take a picture of the face that was drawn to remember your road trip.

Hangman
Hangman was a really popular travel game with us.  One person thinks of a word and writes down blank spaces depending on the amount of letters in the word. The other player guesses a letter that he thinks is in the word. If the letter is correct, then write it in the space that it corresponds with . If the letter is wrong, then you draw a body part of a stick figure on the hangman rack. Start with drawing the head, body, arms and legs. If you have too many wrong guesses, your hangman will croak when hi s drawing is complete!

We really enjoyed the Kleenslate product and would recommend it for others!

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May 31, 2012   2 Comments

Jacobs Ladder String Figure

Were you one of those kids who taught all the other kids how to do Jacob’s Ladder?  Remember how happy  you were when you could finally do it?  Now it’s years later and you can’t remember how — so, here are the instructions so you can teach your kids step by step along with a video for the demonstration of those tricky parts. This is a great activity to play in the car on a trip to keep the kids busy hours. Have fun!

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March 28, 2012   Comments Off

Geography Car Game

Here’s a car game you can play without any materials at all.  It’s a geography game that I found on Education.com, which also has a lot of other games and printable materials for kids — great stuff for road trips.

The geography game is super easy to play.  You simply take turns naming different cities, states or countries around the world. The only catch is that when it’s your turn, your geography point must begin with the same letter that the last person’s ended. Simple!  If you have an atlas in the car, this game will have your kids scouring through it and learning new places.

Devra, my friend and frequent road-trip cohort from Parentopia.com, has played this game with her family (and me) for years.  But somehow  it always seems to me like there are a lot of  geography points that start AND end with the letter A — Alaska, Alabama, Alameda, Australia, Angola, Argentina, Albania, …  see what I mean?  Next time I’m on a roadtrip with them, I’m using “Arkansas” as my secret weapon.  If you can’t spell it, you won’t know that it ends in an “S”! And if that doesn’t get them, then I’ll try “Albuquerque.”   Ha!

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January 12, 2012   Comments Off

Holiday Printable Coloring Pages

On road trips, or just hanging out, kids love to color!  I found a website that has some of the cutest printable materials I’ve ever seen online.  It’s called Python Printables.

Check out their Holiday printable coloring pages (This link includes a $5 coupon when you download along with their free printable pages to use with their premium products later if you want).  They have lots of different holidays and other events to keep your kids busy and creative!

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December 2, 2011   Comments Off

For the Road: Make a Trip-Journal

Keep the kids busy in the car by having them make a Trip-Journal or Scrapbook of their own. Give everyone a big spiral bound sketchpad and a box of crayons or markers. Each day of the trip or for each event along the way, draw a picture of what you did that day, or draw a map of where you went, and write about it. You can also attach souvenirs.

Even children too young to write can draw pictures, and then you can write in the details for them by asking them about the picture. Be sure to include the date since this will be come a treasure forever.

Read more about kids travel journals …!

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October 14, 2010   4 Comments