We just got back from yet another travel adventure with our kids. This time we ventured out with the in-law’s, as well, so we had a caravan going as we drove to our different destinations. We try to keep the driving time down to a few hours at a time so that we can enjoy the cool stops along the way. But occasionally we have to cover some ground to make it to the next destination, and that can make for some antsy kids. Thankfully, over the years, we’ve developed some ways to keep them busy and happy – and they don’t involve batteries.

Roadtrip without Electronics

“The Car Game” is probably the easiest game ever. Even our not-quite 2-year-old gets involved. The kids love it, and it can keep them busy for a while, especially when they start getting really creative with it. It’s very simple: someone picks a color, and then whoever finds a car of that color yells it out and gets to pick the next one.

“I Spy” is another great look-out-the-window game. It can be a little harder for younger children, especially if there are things blocking part of their view. My kids turned the game into “I See,” which is where they basically just name one thing they see. Kind of pointless, but they’re happy and not fighting, so I can’t complain.

My kids also enjoy looking for out-of-state license plates. Since they can be difficult for them to identify, we help them out a bit. When they see an unfamiliar license plate, they ask us what state it is. We got them a sticker book that they can use to keep track of the different ones they see on each trip, and they love taking turns putting the stickers in it.

We even allow the kids to draw or color in the car. I personally prefer pencils, mostly because they don’t melt if one rolls under a seat and gets lost. I buy a couple of cheap coloring and activity books for them to go crazy with. They can draw and color pictures, or they can play games, such as tic-tac-toe together. I recommend this over reading, because it’s less likely to result in car sickness.

And, of course, having plenty of snacks on hand keeps them busy and happy, as well. I try to keep it healthy with some grapes or crackers and maybe the occasional not-so-healthy snack. Full bellies make for less grumpy kids, so I try to watch the clock and make sure everyone eats something every couple of hours.

While there’s nothing wrong with electronics, sometimes it’s just nice to do things the old-fashioned way, like I did when I was little. Plus, no electronics means no batteries to deal with, and I appreciate that.

How do you keep kids busy when traveling?

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When I'm not writing, I'm cleaning up after my three very messy boys, ages 7, 4, and 1. If I had to describe myself in just one sentence: Slightly crunchy, a little crazy and always exhausted.

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