Growing up my parents took road trips with us kids just about every summer. I certainly remember staring out the window of a car feeling like time was barely moving, and those memories made me really hesitant to pack my own brood up and hit the road for any long stretch of time, but eventually the idea of a summer vacation starts calling and before I know it I’m planning rest stops and packing enough snacks to feed an army.
I remember spending many evenings thinking how I would go about this, would we just take the car and pitch a tent somewhere, or would we be better to get a motorhome (I know we would have had to make sure we Insure your motorhome)? There were so many things that I was thinking of, but all I really cared about was making sure that our vacation was just perfect. That’s when I knew what we should do next…
Recently we booked vacation to two of our favorite Pennsylvania destinations two weeks apart. I was facing two road trips in two weeks with four kids under 10 – one with ADHD. If that’s not starting summer vacation with a bang, then I don’t know what is. So, fellow vacationing parents, allow me to share with you how I not only survived these trips, but made them a FUN part of our vacation that everyone wound up looking forward to.
I figured if we were going to spend hours confined in a small space we might as well change the narrative from “time trapped in the car” to “family time”. I started thinking up ways to occupy my children while we were on the road. A friend of mine suggested we come up with a game that would make our road trips fun for everyone. She told me about a bingo game she played online that was similar to Swanky Bingo (check out swankybingo.com here), that was always fun for her when she had long trips for work. While I never tried a site like that before, I thought coming up with a bingo game was a great idea for our road trip. So, my first order of business was to create a Road Trip Bingo Printable (which you can download at the bottom of this post!) for some family game time on the road. While I’m enjoying the games on a site like Lennus.com, they can enjoy the bingo game during our road trip.
The Road Trip Bingo Printable features items that you might normally see on a road trips, which gets the kids looking out of those windows and discovering new sights as you drive. You can print them and cross them off with crayon, but I really like to laminate them and hand them out with dry erase markers. This way we can erase them when we’re done, then switch cards and play again! For little kids you can put them on a clipboard so they have something to lean on as they cross off their spaces.
The game is a lot of fun and a great way to pass a solid block of time while still interacting with each other. Of course, this is only one tool in my arsenal. My oldest son has ADHD and we needed a way to fulfill his need to stay busy without being unsafe in his seat or bumping into his brother constantly.
For this reason Tangle Creations are always stashed into our road trip bag. We first heard about Tangle when my son’s teacher gave him an original Tangle to help him focus in class. Since then he’s had the chance to try the Tangle Therapy and Tangle Imagine. My son loves to use them as fidgets to help him focus, stay calm and manage stress. He really loves the various tactile options they offer, and all of my kids love to just play around with them. It definitely helps us to kill some time in the car and have a smoother trip, and they’re small so I can carry a few without taking up too much space!
Another all around favorite are the Melissa And Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Pads. These carry-along sets fold-out to create a background where kids can craft they’re own scene with reusable stickers. They’re compact size and built in handles make them great for bringing into restaurants while you grab a bite to eat as well.
These Paper Dolls have reusable clothes and accessories that allow kids to engage in imaginary play time and time again. The slim packaging helps keep things together and can fit easily into the back pocket of a seat in the car for storage.
I also love these Paint with Water pads – kids get to be creative and I don’t have to worry about a mess in the car! The best part? The color disappears when the sheets dry, so you can use them again and again.
Fairy Checkers from Eeboo is a magnetic game of checkers, great for an in-car game or two, especially for older kids in the backseat who may need to pass the time quietly as younger siblings nap!
Armed with games, activities and plenty of snacks (plan ahead and stash a few garbage bags in the car so that you can easily clean up at a rest stop!) you can make the trip just as much fun as the destination!
Ready to print some Road Trip Bingo cards? Grab the printable PDF here! You can use a regular laminator or self laminating sleeves and dry erase markers with built in erasers to use the game sheets time and time again!
Using these Bingo sheets on your next road trip? Tag me on social (@bearhugsandblanketforts on Facebook and Instagram) and use the hashtag #BearHugsAndBlanketForts to be featured!