"Are we there yet?" "Mom, he's touching me!" "Dad, she looked at me again!" "Punch Buggy, no punch back!" Many parents have probably heard these and similar cries from their children when going on any sort of road trip longer than an hour or so, especially when the trip is made in a rental car during the holidays. Keeping kids busy – or at least out of trouble – on a road trip is one of the toughest feats a parent can achieve.
But never fear – keeping kids both busy and from being bored on a road trip is not only possible this holiday season, but relatively easy if you just have an open mind and a good imagination. Road trips can be fun, educational experiences with a bit of creativity, planning, and preparation. Below are just a few of the many ways you can turn your nightmarish road trips into fun for the whole family.
You don't necessarily have to be super-creative when coming up with these games. Don't forget the old road-trip standbys of 20 Questions, The License Plate Game, or I Spy. Another good game to try is the Alphabet Game, in which you pick a category (such as different countries) and everybody playing the game has to come up with a different word beginning with each letter of the alphabet (such as Peru for the letter P). To spice things up, you can always attach some sort of reward to the winner of each game (or of each round of each game), such as a small amount of extra money, a food treat, or extra staying-up-late minutes.
Some other options for the less game-inclined is to have your kids create journals of their rental car road trip experiences. This can range from simply describing things they've seen along the way (such as cows or fire trucks) to mini-scrapbooking by cutting out pictures from old magazines of things they've seen along the way and pasting them into their journals. They can also jot down the names of states/provinces, towns, cities, or tourist attractions you pass through on your road trips. For parents with older kids, you can always have them highlight on a map routes you've driven, or you can maybe do some geocaching.
The main key to beating road trip boredom is to be creative and willing to open your mind to the things kids find fun. Engaging your kids in fun, creative activities is the best way to keep them from being bored, and has the added bonus of allowing them to develop their brains along the way. If you're having trouble coming up with ideas, there are lots of resources on the Internet to help you out.
If you're still having trouble coming up with ideas for beating off the boredom bug on your long car rental road trips, just search for "road trip boredom busters" in Google or a similar search engine and you'll get a plethora of good sources of ideas for staving off boredom.
Keeping Alert in Your Rental Car
While you might not see how one could possibly have trouble staying alert when on a long road trip with a rental car full of kids, it is deceptively easy to lose focus on your driving, whether through simple drowsiness or through focusing more on the kids and their activities than on the road. Gadling, a popular travel blog, has this to say about staying alert on those long road trips:
"Driving when tired is no fun at all. In fact, some studies have shown that a drowsy driver can be as dangerous as a drunk driver… Remember, though -- if you're feeling tired, there's no shame in pulling over and napping. This is the single most important thing you can do when driving for long periods of time."
Below are Gadling's six tips for staying alert on road trips:
• Stay hydrated
• If you're traveling with someone, have them regularly talk to you
• Use an electronic device to warn you if you start to nod off
• Make frequent, short stops to rest and/or stretch
• Stock up on audio media to keep you entertained, interested, and alive
• Bring along road-friendly snacks to munch on
For more tips on avoiding drowsy driving, check out our recent post on the topic.
How do you keep your kids entertained during a long car rental road trip? Share your secrets below! Still looking for a holiday car rental? Book yours right now using our online rental reservation system.