Family camping trips are great for everyone. The kids can burn off their excess energy at the beach, the lake, or on the hiking trails, and parents get the chance to share their love of the wilderness with the kids. But for some families, the driving trip on the way to the campground is the most challenging part of the whole adventure. If you aren’t sure what to do with your kids on your next long drive, pack a few of these travel games in your knapsack and keeping things fun the whole way there.
The License Plate Game
This classic game is a staple of all road trips, and it has a few variations. The easiest version is to ask kids to look for letters of the alphabet, one letter at a time. They can get the letters from road signs, billboards, and, of course, license plates. When someone finds “A,” everyone moves on to “B” and so forth. License plates come in handy for tricky letters like Q, X, and Z!
A variation of this game for older kids is to try to spot license plates from every state in the U.S. (excepting Hawaii and possibly Alaska). For younger kids, print out a map of the U.S. and let your child color in the states as you spot license plates from each one. Keep these maps over various road trips and see if you can get them all filled in.
Yet another variation involves making up sayings to go with the letters on license plates. RGF might be “really good Friday” or “rabbits go frolic.” And you can watch for different collections of numbers, like numbers all in a row (4, 5, 6) or groups of three of the same number (3, 3, 3) on one plate.
Fun with Maps
If you get tired of being asked “how much farther is it?,” try giving your child their own map. You can photocopy part of your road map or atlas, then show your child how to use signs and markers to find your location. If your child is old enough, you can ask them challenging questions like “what’s that mountain range over there?” or “how many miles is it to Round Lake?” Part of the fun of travel for kids is getting accustomed to different place names, river names, and the look of the land. Ask your child to pick out their favorite town name or to let you know when you’re going to cross different rivers or forests. You can pick the town or city you’d most like to live in someday or watch for the funniest looking car.
Kids can also have fun making their own maps. They can draw a different picture for every big town you go through or of different landmarks like bridges, mountains, and rivers. At the end of the day, line all the pictures up for a visual reminder of where you’ve been.
If you have more than one kid in the car, have one child close their eyes and put out their hand. The other child uses their finger to trace a letter on the palm of the out-turned hand. Try to guess the letter, then trade places. If the kids are good at guessing, they can try spelling out whole words.
Two kids can also enjoy playing classic paper games like Hangman, Tic Tac Toe, and the paper version of Battleship. Card games like Crazy Eights, Old Maid, and Gin Rummy are also great ways to pass the time. And don’t forget to sing songs. Nothing passes the time like a sign-along!
Looking for more information and other great articles about camping with kids? KidsCamping.com has a wide variety of articles, activities, games and learning tools to inspire kids of all ages to love camping and the outdoors.