Friday, March 30, 2012

Road Tripping with kids

Any road trip with four kids is a massive feat. The drive from Invercargill to Christchurch is about eight hours normally, but with four kids and plenty of stops it becomes a day-long mission. If the family arrives intact, and no-one has been left behind at any of the stops (or thrown from a moving vehicle!) then you’ve won.

Our kids are pretty used to road trips, since we try to get away at least once a year. Our thing is the holiday starts as soon as we get in the car, rather than when we arrive at our destination. This way, we try to include the driving as part of the fun.

But even though they’re used to it, and even though they say they’re looking forward to it, it’s still a very long drive and we can all get a bit ratty by the end of it. So in anticipation of the long hours of driving I started thinking about a few car games we could play on the way to kill the inevitable boredom and hopefully avoid fights between the kids. I usually start thinking about games about five minutes after we start driving, so I wanted to be a bit more organised this time. And after years and years of “I Spy” I can no longer tolerate the game, or any of the many variations of it that we’ve come up with over the years. So here’s how we passed the time on our road trip to Christchurch:

Scavenger Hunt
Pretty basic stuff, but it kept them occupied almost the whole trip! A couple of days before we left I printed off a list of things for the kids to find and cross off the list on the way. Some were easy, some were a bit more challenging, which kept it interesting enough for the 13 year old as well and the 10 and 7 year olds.

The list:

The two they found the most difficult to find were the flashing red light and the duck. But days later they were stilling yelling out things from the list as we drove along, so I took that to mean they’d been at least a little into it.

Road Trip Timeline
Not exactly a game, but it kept Princess occupied. Our seven year old is one of those kids who is constantly asking “Are we nearly there?” whenever we go on a long drive. This makes it tough when three hours into a ten hour trip you have to tell her you’re not even close, and deal with the whining that comes as a consequence.

But this time I figured out a way to prevent those questions altogether. Before we left I looked on google maps and made a list of every town we passed through on the way - large cities and small rural towns. I cut the list into three blocks – Invercargill to Dunedin (where we would be stopping for a break to visit an Aunty and Uncle), Dunedin to Timaru (where we would be stopping for a McDonalds break), and Timaru to Christchurch. Princess held onto the list and as we passed through each town she would tear off the name of the town and give it to me. Then she could count how many towns we had to pass through before we reached our destination.

It was a really effective way to help her understand how far we had to go, and there was not one single “Are we nearly there” – instead it was “9 more places and then Christchurch”. I will definitely be doing this again!

Who am I?
The person who is ‘in’ thinks of a person, famous or non-famous, living or dead, and the others take turns asking questions to figure out who they are. The questions must be worded so that the person who is ‘in’ can answer only yes or no. This game was made up on the spot, as kind of a variation of the headbands game. It was good, because even though it was simple enough for our 7 year old girl, Hubby and I even found it fun, and it didn’t require anything except people to play it.

Photo Stops
New Zealand is just packed with beauty and sometimes the best thing to do is just pull over to the side of the road and enjoy it.

Even with careful planning and organisation, kids are still kids, and a long day in the car is still a long day in the car.

By the time we arrived in Christchurch we had all had more than enough driving! But the games we played along the way were great memories for all of us, and it was totally worth taking just a small amount of time to prepare them. Hopefully they can inspire someone else.

What car games do you and your family like to play on long road trips?


Linking up with


  1. I remember as a child (I think about 10 years old) before the trip I copied the route off a map and wrote landmarks etc on it. Then it was a bit like Faith's list of towns, I could follow my map and look for the landmarks.

  2. These are such great ideas for car trips! I especially love the photos of your son singing! :P

    1. Thanks Jenn, yea he wants to kill me for putting those there hehe!

  3. What cool idea's - will have to keep these in mind when the kids get older ;-)!

  4. Brilliant ideas! I'll be keeping these in mind for when my boy is a bit older (at the moment, we're at the "Cows! Mummy, I see cows!" stage), as they sound perfect for any length trip.

  5. Awesome Ideas for long car trips. When I was a kid we used the play "I Don't Spy", which was an inbetween version of I Spy and 20 Questions, and also the Number Plate game, which you had to take the letters from the car number plates and make a mini phrase.
    I'm going to steal your ideas for when mine are a bit older though ;)

  6. This is a GREAT idea Cass!
    I especially love that tear-off list (BRILLIANT!) and the scavenger hunt list... I could TOTALLY see both of those working for our lot next time we venture south...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...