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Road trip activities

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Melissa
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Hey, fellow Blueboarders. I'm looking for fun activities for older kids (ages 8 to 12) to keep them busy and entertained while on a road trip. I'm finding lots of ideas online, but I'm wondering if there are any car activities your kids enjoy now or used to like in the past. Or maybe you remember something fun you did when you were that age. I only remember fighting with my older brother about who was taking up too much room in the back seat. :-)

:thankyou
#1 - March 03, 2016, 08:33 AM
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Keeping track of: state license plates, letters of the alphabet in road signs, numbers in road signs, models of cars and trucks. Playing magnetic games. Playing paper games (the dot game, etc., but all games can invite arguing). Reading - my sister and I would have a pile of books on the floor and we'd read for hours.

Oh yeah - and keeping track of who goes over that invisible middle-of-the-car line first...
#2 - March 03, 2016, 08:56 AM

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We love looking out the window still. We like music and conversation and doodling in notebooks and playing games. I used to have a small set of travelling game pieces, like checkers, playing cards, puzzles and such. My daughter likes to play with yarn so there's some crocheting, knitting, Cat's cradle. There's also fighting but it's not too bad.

Enjoy! Vijaya
#3 - March 03, 2016, 08:59 AM
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I think mostly what we do is look out the windows and sleep. Aside from that, my kids are good at reading in the car (although I realize that is not for everyone...). If there is a bookstore we can visit at the beginning of the trip, it's usually pretty exciting--the kids don't often get carte blanche in a bookstores (because we could yanno, wipe out our bank account if we did that every day). They like drawing and coming up with story ideas, too. We like to keep an extra atlas that we can pass back and let the kids keep up with where we are. We have music we mostly listen to on road trips, and we haven't done much in the way of audio books, but I could see how that could be useful. I like to keep an eye out for interesting midway points where we can get out and look around that can double as the leg-stretching stop we'll have to make anyway. We've stopped at the meteor crater off I-40 in Winslow, AZ a few times (overpriced, but...we'd promised to stop for at least 20 miles, so it happened). Free is better, though. (Cahokia Mounds just outside St. Louis is nice.) We usually pick Walmarts over restaurants because we can walk around inside for a bit (plus it's cheaper, foodwise). And uh...we've had trips where we've had to rearrange all the kids at every stop until we found the right combination where they didn't try to kill each other. Another thing our kids like to do is have a camera in the back. When we look at the card, they're usually pictures of the floor of the car, or looking up someone's nose, or blurry pictures of bug juice on the windows, but hey--if it keeps them happy, that's all we need, right? :)

We've done a lot of road trips with our kids (including one summer where we did 7000 miles with three kids in the back of a Nissan Sentra). I'm sure that someday, it's all going to come out in therapy, but so far, so good. :)
#4 - March 03, 2016, 09:20 AM

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Playing music loud and singing along at the tops of our lungs.  :grin3 I used to put together a new playlist for each trip we took (no radio going over the mountain passes)--usually a collection of popular music, plus some fun and silly stuff, too. If it got too quiet in the car, that's when the fighting started.  :lol4

Plus, we tend to talk a lot in the car. Getting into an in-depth conversation sure makes the time go by fast. ;)

And we encouraged sleeping. We always piled a bunch of pillows and blankets in the middle seat between the kids. It helped with the whole invisible line thing and gave them a place to put their heads.

A couple times, the kids brought cards or books or games with them, but not always.

Other than that, we never really did much in the way of activities for the kids. Just watching the scenery going by can be activity enough in this part of the world.  ::-)

Hope that helps!

Rue
#5 - March 03, 2016, 10:04 AM
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Oh yes! how could I forget camera and pillows? Essential items.
Vijaya
#6 - March 03, 2016, 10:37 AM
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These are great ideas, guys! Very helpful!

We've done a lot of road trips with our kids (including one summer where we did 7000 miles with three kids in the back of a Nissan Sentra). I'm sure that someday, it's all going to come out in therapy, but so far, so good.


 :lol4
#7 - March 03, 2016, 12:04 PM
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We had a quiet car from Connecticut to Chicago thanks to Harry Potter. We also used to play a card game (I have unfortunately forgotten the name) where you pick a card and find the item, like litter, a water tower, a brown car, a bicycle...   :bunnyshake :bunny2
#8 - March 03, 2016, 12:33 PM

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We're actually leaving for a short road trip in the next few minutes! :trailer We like to play 20 questions, where one person thinks of a person, place or thing inside their head, and the other family members have 20 questions to guess. But the questions can only be answered with a yes or no.

We bring our son's DVD player and he watches movies. Also, it's nice to bring a small, flat tray and let him build Legos, although I must admit that when he was little he used to lose the tiny pieces and cry in frustration ... so on the other hand, forget that idea.  :faint

I bring old journals (I have over a hundred starting from when I was 16) and read them to my hubby while he drives. We laugh at how silly we were or how much things have changed in our lives, or have even stayed the same. It's nice for our son to sit in the backseat and here us reminisce about days gone by.

Hope you have a fun and safe road trip!
#9 - March 03, 2016, 01:21 PM

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A lucky dip bag for when things become dire is a good thing. (Just used as a "last straw", or the bag empties too quickly.)  It may contain things like puzzle books, a drawing/writing book and pencils, snacks, rubik's cube, other puzzles, etc.
#10 - March 03, 2016, 04:45 PM
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We do allow reading, but there are no toys or videos in our car. We've used trivia cards from board games (Trivial Pursuit is an example.) We will sing along to whatever is playing. Mostly, we play the License Plate game (I keep a list of each state, foreign country or specialty plate seen), the alphabet game (with older kids go forward and backward or try to find the most consecutive letters on a single sign), Geography (one person names a place that can be found on a map, the next person names another place that begins with the last letter of the first place and so on. If you can't think of someplace that hasn't already been said, you're out) or Ghost (This is a spelling game. Each person says a letter in turn. The letters must form a word, but if you complete the word you get a G. Two letter words don't count. A Scrabble dictionary is helpful for verification. Also, if you think the person before  you messed up, you can challenge. They have to tell you the word they were thinking of. If they're right, you get a G; if not, they do. Each time you lose, you get the next letter in the word ghost. If you get the whole word, you're out.) We've done nine hours with two kids and no fighting. (There were stops, though.)

I hope the games were clear enough. Ghost is hard to explain. 
#11 - March 06, 2016, 08:55 PM
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 05:59 PM by Debbie Vilardi »
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Most commonly, I had to keep myself entertained at home and on road trips.

Road trip activities were definitely limited to my imagination. Like making up stories (silently, in my head) about things I'd see.

The "Falling Rock" signs--before I found out what they meant--used to prompt images and make-believe stories of Native Americans (called Indians in that day). Those occasional houses off thruways that seemed so isolated found me creating characters who lived there, what their lives were like, etc. Same thing with people in other cars: what were they all about and where were they were going and why and...?

Approaching town/mile signs, I'd try adding all the miles up before passing the sign, or see how many different words I could make from town names (sometimes sparking mini-games in slower traffic: try to make a full sentence, whatever).

I'd have brought books, but reading increased the chance of getting carsick.

My mother gave me a small, folding, magnetic checkerboard...guess I was supposed to play with the ghost in the backseat.  :confused2
#12 - March 07, 2016, 06:31 AM
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 06:34 AM by Arona »
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Einstein.

We played very elaborate games of I Spy. We'd make a list of things to find before setting out on the trip--some were easy (A building with a red roof) and some were much more complicated/specific (A UPS or FedEX driver NOT in his/her truck). We had to finds words starting with the letters of the alphabet, sorted into groups of five, and you had to find them in order. (No B before A). We also had subjective categories ("something sad") and then you had to make your case when you called it. My son once saw an empty billboard and deemed this sad because it had no ad. Other people in the car can "vote" on whether the item qualifies or not. If there's only two of you this doesn't work as well, but on the other hand, the stalemate arguing can kill lots of time. :)

I think we also had a weighted point system and maybe a barter system where you could trade. The more wrinkles to the game, the more involved they got, and the more time we got through.
#13 - March 23, 2016, 12:32 PM

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Thanks, Diane--and everyone!--for your fantastic ideas. I'm still open to more if you have them.  :trailer
#14 - March 23, 2016, 01:43 PM
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What I remember best as a kid were the wonderful stories my mom would tell us on long trips. She was an excellent story teller and would tell us entire books, stopping for breaks at the most exciting parts, of course. I particularly remember her telling us Les Miserables.

We played word games like Ghost, as Debbie mentioned, but had an additional rule--once you're a ghost and out of the game, you still can participate from the standpoint that if you get someone else to talk to you, then they also become a ghost and are out of the game. You could ask 'innocent' questions like, "What time is it?" or "What's the next town?" to try to catch someone off-guard and get a response.

We've often taken turns making up Hinky Pinkies and letting the rest of the travelers try to guess them.

We also played math games like Buzz. You try to count to 100, each person taking turns saying a number. If your number is a multiple of 7 or has a 7 in it you say, "Buzz" instead of the number. If you make a mistake, you're out of the game. The people left when you reach 100 are the winners.

If you're going through farming country, Animal Safari can be a fun game. One person (or team) has the left side of the road and the other person has the right side. You get one point for each cow or horse you see, 10 points for each dog, and 25 points for each cat. If you see a cemetery on your side, it wipes out all your opponent's points. First person to 100 wins.
#15 - March 23, 2016, 08:33 PM

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These are great, Ev. I especially like the Ghost game twist. What are Hinky Pinkies?!  :eh2
#16 - March 24, 2016, 06:26 AM
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A Hinky Pinky is a pair of rhyming words that make sense together. You give a one-word clue for each word (doesn't have to be a perfect synonym; can be just the category) and you let the guesser know how many syllables in each word by telling them it's a Hink Pink (1 syllable), Hinky Pinky (2 syllables), or Hinkety Pinkety (3 syllables).  Some examples of Hink Pinks are:

a distant sun
a crimson toboggan
a trout platter
a plump kitten
a large sow

(I post a new Hinky Pinky on the Puzzle Page of my website every week if you want more examples.)
#17 - March 24, 2016, 10:32 AM
« Last Edit: March 24, 2016, 10:34 AM by Ev »

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Very cool! What a great game, Ev. Thanks for the explanation. (It took me a minute to realize your examples were the clues, not the solutions.  :whistle)
#18 - March 25, 2016, 06:49 AM
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As kids, one of my siblings or I would call out the name or a car make, and the first one to spot one would win that round. But it was much easier then because styling among car makes was very different. Nowadays, restrictions due to such as aerodynamic designs for fuel efficiencies, make it harder to tell one make from another.

So maybe colors or something on the roof or such. "Hey kids, who can spot a green car that's flipped over. I've got a great surprise for whoever has the eagle eyes!"
#19 - March 25, 2016, 11:27 AM
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 11:29 AM by spence-blakely »

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Our kids also like buzz (though we also throw in that every time you say 'buzz' you also change directions). Of course, we play lots of alphabet games (both with signs and license plates), license plate bingo (or simply seeing who can find the most states), and hinky pink (this was something mostly my brother and I played as kids).

#20 - March 25, 2016, 11:56 AM
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We also played Buzz, but it got too easy. My kids once went to 1,000 without anyone getting out. Perhaps we need to try harder times tables. I learned it with threes. Robin, how does reversing directions work? I think you'd just be repeating the same numbers over and over. Am I missing something?

When the kids were really little, we brought puppets in to the car and played with those, but those were mom-in-the-backseat days.
#21 - March 27, 2016, 06:02 PM
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We played Tell A Story. One person would begin, then the next person would add something, then the next...around clockwise until someone the-ended it. We would like to have each person end their section with the exciting part....And just as the lion jumped....something like that, so the next person can be silly or take it in another direction.
#22 - March 27, 2016, 07:14 PM

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We used to play this....
http://www.amazon.com/Are-There-Travel-Card-Game/dp/B008J3N6EC

I would have responded a while ago, but I couldn't remember the name of the game. It's small and kept the kids occupied for long stretches at a time. I got a card to find litter while we were driving  :truckbanana through Canada. I ended up trading it for something else because I couldn't find any. Imagine that.
#23 - March 28, 2016, 11:41 AM

Because there was never anything good on the car radio except for news, talk, five-o-clock NPR and music--and then we'd usually end up going through the rural areas where country and Christian were the big hits--as a kid, I used to hunt down record-clearinghouse catalogues to find cassette tapes of old 40's radio shows.  Only found about a dozen or so of them on hard form, which could drive us crazy on long car trips.

Now, it's all MP3 on the web, so with having to provide activity for the next generation, I managed to track down whole stores of old Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, The Shadow and You Are There episodes for a quick half-hour downtime, by playing them off of a burned CD or the iPod's FM transmitter.  The lack of surroundings on the highway always led to more concentration on the story, and more visual imagination of what was going on.
(And they never did figure out why Charlie McCarthy had a "funny voice", or why he sounded so similar to Edgar.)
#24 - March 28, 2016, 12:37 PM
Know the movies.  Show the movies.  Start the revolution:
http://movieactivist.blogspot.com

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You guys are awesome! These are all such great suggestions.  :love5
#25 - March 28, 2016, 02:17 PM
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Dating myself:  slug bug and jell-o.  Whoever saw a VW bug first would yell "slug bug!' and hit the other person in the arm.  And jello-o was squishing people in the back seat whenever the car would make a turn.  A co-worker said that her family also played slug bug, but some cousins played hug bug.  Yawn.
#26 - March 30, 2016, 10:00 AM

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VW Bugs are called Punch Buggies in this area. And kids still do this.

Wait, that thing where my brother slammed into me on curves has a name. I thought it was just him being obnoxious as usual. Of course, seat belts prevent that one these days.
#27 - April 03, 2016, 09:15 PM
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