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The four words every parent dreads to hear behind the wheel: “Are we there yet?”

It’s no secret that kids get a little stir-crazy after being cooped up in the backseat for hours on end.  But fear no more, there are plenty of tried-and-true ways to keep your kids entertained and at bay during your next family road trip:

  1. Alphabet Game – A good, old-fashioned car game that requires nothing more than a little patience.  Try to find every letter of the alphabet, in order, and shout them out as you find them.  The trick is, the letters must be outside of the vehicle!  Have your kids play together or make it a competition!

  2. Road Trip Bingo – Grab a pen and piece of paper and make a “bingo” board, but use common roadside sights instead of numbers!  Some ideas might be: a police car, a corn field, a bridge, or even a cow!  This one is sure to keep kids occupied for the duration of the drive.

  3. Punch Buggy Game – A game that has been around for ages.  Every time you spot a Volkswagon Beetle, give your neighbor a (soft!) punch while hollering, “Punch buggy, no punch back!” (or, alternately, “Slug bug!”) in reference to the Beetle’s nickname the Bug.

  4. Catchphrase – This is a game that I swear by and now bring everywhere!  Catchphrase is a fast-paced, fun game where teams try to guess the word or phrase that appears on the electronic screen… just do it before the timer buzzes!  In store or online, this game is less than $20.

  5. Dry Erase Board – Need I say more?  Kids can play tic-tac-toe and hangman to their heart’s content!  Suggest something ridiculous to draw – a monkey riding a unicycle! – and make it a competition!  You can usually get cheap dry erase boards and markers at dollar stores or in the office section of your local grocery store.

  6. Audio Book – Reading to your children is one of the most influential things you can do.  It helps them develop language and listening skills, and it stimulates their imagination.  Because you can’t hold a book behind the wheel, stop at your local library and pick up a book on tape!  Your kids will be captivated when you play it, and they won’t even want to get out of the car!

  7. Movie – A solution for the 21st century, tech-savvy kids out there.  If your car does not have a built-in DVD player, load up your tablet or laptop with your kids’ favorites!  You can also buy portable DVD players, some that even strap to the back of the headrests.

  8. Make a Pit Stop – One of the easiest ways to get your child to settle down is to let them stretch their legs and make a pit stop.  Whether it’s a fun sight along the way or even just a bathroom break, your kids will enjoy this breath of fresh air.

Jane Jozefowicz
Jane Jozefowicz
Jane Jozefowicz is a rising sophomore at the University of Chicago, where she studies Linguistics and Computer Science. Jane plays trombone and lacrosse and is the biggest animal lover you'll meet!