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Blog: Traveling With Kids
Favorite things to do in the car

So often these days, I read of kids traveling with a raft of electronic gadgetry to keep them amused.  I wondered what people in New Zealand where doing with their kids in the car so I did a poll of the 30 odd people at our family gathering over Christmas to see what their favorite things to do in the car were.  I asked the children what they liked to do and asked the adults what they liked to do with children.  The children said their favorite things to do were to sleep, eat cherries (or substitute any favorite food), and read books.  The older children had graduated into the electronic age and said listening to music or sleeping.  Some adults said singing with or without the aid of CDs and while a couple of the adults said their favorite thing to do with the kids was to get out of the car(!), most said that playing games was their favorite thing.

Here are some of the games that they enjoyed.

Counting horses: count the horses on each side of the car.  To make it a little more interesting, the people on the left side of the car count the horses on the left and people on the right count the horses on the right, but if any horses get missed, then you can count the opposite side's horses.

Color counting: choose a color and then count the number of things you can see that are that color – you can limit it to a particular theme such as cars, houses, signs and so on.

Number plate letters: either go through the alphabet, spell names or choose words to spell – each person should have a similar length word.

Travel bingo: spotting various items. You can buy ready made cards or make up your own lists.  For younger children, pictures can be used.

20 questions: one person thinks of an object.  They say whether it is animal, mineral, or vegetable.  The other people have up to 20 questions to guess what the object is.  The person who is thinking of the object can only answer yes or no.

I spy: one person notices something they can see and says "I spy with my little eye something beginning with," and says the letter that the word begins with.  Everybody tries to guess what it is.  The person who wins chooses the next object.  You can do this for younger children using phonetics rather than letters and objects that are really obvious to start with (cars, trees, sky, clouds, sun and so on).  They soon get the hang of it.

First/last letter words: choose a theme, e.g. fruits, countries, and take turns saying things from that category, but, the next thing must begin with the last letter of the previous word, e.g. tangelo, orange.

Scores: create a list of different types of people and give points for each item – and old man (10), a girl riding a bike (30), a baby in a stroller (15) – and the person with the most points at the end of the game wins.

There are several games you can buy, most of them along the same veins.  In any case, if you can separate your kids from the electronics, having a few games up your sleeve can make the traveling more enjoyable.

posted on: 12/27/2007 1:00:00 PM by Katherine Macey
category: Travel

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Discuss This Post

by stiink on 6/1/2009 4:49:24 PM:

Alright how about we grow up here i mean some kids are older and we need to try and focus on them and not the little keds so much. its stupid!

by Katherine on 6/2/2009 1:53:50 AM:

Hi Stiink, Thank you for your comments. My kids at time of writing were 1 yr and 4 yrs old, so that reflects in my writing. One game I remember playing when I was a teenager was a game we called "My Mini." It worked in New Zealand when I was growing up, but perhaps now in the States you'd want to play something "My Hybrid." You need a car that is fairly distinctive and that you'll see some of, but not huge numbers of. The goal is to see the hybrids first and you get a point if you say "My Hybrid" before anyone else does. You subtract a point if you say "My Hybrid" and it isn't one. Our family was fairly competitive, so it was fun. What sorts of games do you have for older children?

by ami on 7/11/2009 9:17:29 AM:

going on a four hr trip on the 13/7/09 tha\ts not including stops

by ami on 7/11/2009 9:17:33 AM:

going on a four hr trip on the 13/7/09 tha\ts not including stops

by Katherine on 7/12/2009 11:29:27 AM:

Good luck! You'll probably want to schedule in a couple of stops to stretch legs. Combining a food stop with a run around game (something simple - tag or soccer) is great if you can to get rid of some pent up energy. If you've got the time, allow at least 30 minutes at each stop. You'll have a happier time in the car. Have fun and safe travels.

by lolli kid! on 10/15/2009 4:20:17 AM:

this page is the amest thing ever!!! im TEN not 5 or 4! so there should be better things like wave to people aka.sweet and sour!

by molly lover on 10/15/2009 4:24:00 AM:

that is the worsts games ever!! im ten and im going to queensland soon and i would be bored in the car because its for 8 hours! so now what am i ment to do in the car? sit there and sleep!!! i don't think so!! maybe some better games like play sweet and sour! or what am doing?

by Hannah on 3/28/2010 9:14:15 PM:

I'm going to Chicago soon from Wisconsin, which is a 6 hour drive and my little sister is 5 and she is constantly bored so this page with help ALOT! :)

by Katherine on 3/28/2010 11:44:01 PM:

Good luck Hannah. Glad you liked the suggestions - do let us know if you have any more games that work.

by Katherine on 3/28/2010 11:45:29 PM:

Hey lolli kid! or molly lover - or anyone else who knows - how do you play sweet and sour? :-)

by sarah on 3/23/2011 5:19:24 PM:

hi my family usally goes on long trips weather its five hrs to new york or 24 hrs to louisiana this helped quite a bit

by Rebecca on 6/4/2012 10:56:09 AM:

This page is good for younger kids but I'm 10! I also really like sweet and sour!!!

by Katie on 7/5/2012 4:36:27 PM:

You guys, it's quite obvious that she is writing based on her own experience with her kids. Because the kids are smaller, the game ideas are also for smaller children. There are plenty of sites that you can go on if you are older. It would help a lot if you didn't post rude comments but just found a site better for your own needs :) It really all depends whether you have company. I am going to travel a total of 8 hours in the span of a week with just my mum who has to concentrate on driving. I don't own an iPod, my laptop is too heavy and I don't have a headset for my cellphone. I intend to buy crossword and sudoku - magazines to solve, crochet amigurumi, read (I also sometimes get motion sickness, so I am also getting read-aloud CDs), solve riddles, play Sweet/Sour, write, look at the scenery, draw, listen to CDs and the radio, and dream. I should be able to pass the time perfectly well. With friends or siblings, of course, you can do much more. Hope this helped ;)

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Traveling With Kids

by Katherine Macey

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About Katherine:

Katherine Macey, Ph.D., is a professional organizer who is passionate about helping people improve their lives and achieve their goals. She works mainly with academics in their offices and with residential clients in their home offices.

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