Keeping the Kids Happy in the Car on Long Road Trip

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With the holidays fast approaching, ‘tis the season to think about the upcoming family festivities—and how you’re going to get there. AAA estimates that even more families will be piling in their cars and hitting the road this Thanksgiving. More than 41 million Americans, or 89 percent of travelers, are planning a roadtrip, an increase of more than four percent from last year. As families start to map out their holiday travel plans, whether traveling to Grandma’s house or a favorite vacation spot, FamilyFun magazine and AAA conducted a travel survey of 400 parents and kids with some surprising and humorous findings:

 

Keeping kids entertained is as important as filling up the tank

·        What do parents say they always do before heading out on a road trip? Naturally, filling up the car with gas tops the list (90%) but so does packing snacks for their kids (90%) and packing electronics to keep kids busy (76%). Clearly, keeping those backseat travelers happy is a priority for moms and dads — ranking higher than other options including cleaning the windshield, checking the tires, and even getting a hotel reservation.

 

Kids envision the car of the future to include an Xbox, mini-fridges and trampolines

·        Almost half (44%) of kids surveyed said sitting still in a car for long trips is the worst part of the trip. In order to liven up the backseat, kids were asked what they would include in the “car of the future,” and their responses pointed to entertainment and space needs. Kids would include flat screen TVs, Xboxes, PS4s, and mini-fridges filled with snacks in their self-designed car. “It would have a spot for a trampoline so I wouldn’t have to sit forever,” wrote one child. “A dance floor with microphone,” said another, as well as “lots of room, so my younger brother couldn’t reach me.”

 

Technology rules in the backseat, but it’s not what kids like best about road trips

·        Over half (63%) of kids surveyed said they’d bring an e-device, such as a tablet, laptop, or smart phone, to make sure a road trip is fun. But while tech may be a top boredom-buster, it’s ultimately not what makes a trip fun. Kids said the best part of a road trip is actually “spending time with their family” and “getting to see new places.”

 

Boys choose music while girls choose creativity

·        Keeping kids entertained is a top concern for parents, but it’s important to know your audience and what will appease the backseat blues.  The survey revealed that boys are more likely to want to bring their iPod or music player on a road trip, while girls are more likely to want to bring a stuffed animal, a book and drawing or craft supplies.

 

 

Here are some tips for spending lots of time in the car:

 

 

Backseat Fun & Games:

·        License Plate Lingo – See who can be the first player to make a sentence out of the letters on a license plate ahead of you. For example, if the plate is LH5-2VF, you might shout, “Let’s have vacation fun!” The weirder the sentence, the better.

·        Geography Go-Round – Start with any place in the world—Kansas, for example. The next person has to think of a place that begins with the last letter of “Kansas,” such as “South Africa.” Whoever goes next needs a place that starts with an “A”. You can use a place only once per game, and it has to be a real place.

 

Kids Fun Travel Kit:

Easy Games – Bring along a three-ring binder filled with clear plastic sleeves containing blank sheets of paper and simple games such as hangman and tic-tac-toe.  Use dry –erase markers, kids can doodle and play, then wipe the sleeves clean and play again.
Goody Bags – For longer drives, consider bringing surprise goody bags to hand out at noteworthy intervals like passing a state border.  Label each bag with the name of the milestone and inside have a snack, coloring page or even a special privilege coupon (e.g. you can pick the music we listen to for the next 15 minutes).
For more tips and information:

FamilyFun and AAA have also developed a Holiday Road Trips booklet of 20 handy ideas, including everything from driving safety and pack-along essentials to games that will keep your crew entertained. To download the full FamilyFun & AAA Holiday Road Trips booklet, visit http://bit.ly/1ubBHKJ.

 

For additional ideas to keep the whole family entertained this season, check out the December issue of FamilyFun magazine in print or on the iPad, or visit familyfunmag.com.

 

 


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