Road trip with kids on your calendar?
Relax. It doesn't have to be a sanity-testing experience if you're prepared for the inevitable restlessness of little passengers.
An easy way to keep whining to a minimum and pump up the fun factor is to play road trip games that don't require anything more than everyone's attention.
Here are five fun road trip games to make the drive fly by.
Let older kids help navigate. Give them a copy of the road map on a clipboard and a highlighter to chart your progress.
You can award points (or the winner's choice of restaurant for dinner on the road) to the passenger who can correctly chart the vehicle's next interstate highway, freeway or exit successfully - before seeing the road signs.
Things get crazy when you pass a field full of them in this road trip game. The goal is to count more cows than anyone else in the car. If you pass a cemetery on your side of the car, you lose all your cows, but only if the other side calls it: “Cows buried.”
You can pretty much make a game out of counting anything. Try billboards, red signs... You get the picture.
Print a map from the Internet and have the kids color in the states as they see license plates from each.
This game starts with a single person uttering a single sentence and generally ends in a free-for-all laugh fest among the tongue-tied passengers. It's great for getting everyone’s mind off the clock and the odometer, and on listening to each other.
My 10-year-old daughter, her friend, Stephanie, and I made a 40-mile trip to Disneyland recently.
Here's what I recall of our silly game: "The car in front of us is taupe. It's a Yukon. Stephanie is wearing a bandana. There's a really big plane flying into LAX. The call box is blue.
There are surfboards on the car in front of us. Lyndsay (she had choked while laughing and drinking from her water bottle so this too became a sentence), are you okay?
Yes, I'm fine. Happy birthday, Lyndsay. The Disneyland castle needs to be repainted. The sky needs to be taller. I really want that limo in front of us. Put a sock in it, Stephanie. Lyndsay is loony..."
Each person gets to choose a topic every 15 minutes. (My choice is usually silence.) Or you could all listen to someone else talk. Bring along books on tape or a playlist the whole family will enjoy.