The Great American Road Trip: Keep Things Fun with Car Games

Summertime means it’s road trip time in many families. When my kids were growing up, our family packed up the car and hit the road each summer for a cross-country trip to visit my parents and siblings. Traveling with kids can be fun but is also usually stressful. 

You’ll find out top picks for summer trips here: Lynchburg Summer 2023 Family Day Trips, Weekend & Vacation Trips – coming soon!

If you don’t want your kids in the zone during the entire trip, introduce classic car trip games such as I Spy, License Plate Bingo, or two of our family’s favorites, the Alphabet Game and I’m Going on a Picnic. 

To play the Alphabet Game, look for words begging with each letter of the alphabet on road signs and billboards. See who can find each letter first. Warning: Q and Z are especially tough! Give the younger kids an advantage by letting them use letters anywhere on the sign while the older kids use only words beginning with the letter. 

To play I’m Going on a Picnic, the first player says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…” and lists an item beginning with the letter A. The second person lists both an item beginning with the letter B and the item the first player shared. Our family makes this game more challenging by adding name and location descriptions, also beginning with the same letter. Example: “My name is Annie, I’m going to Annapolis, and I’m bringing apples.” This game gets very challenging as you work your way through the alphabet. You may want to have a prize ready for the player who gets all the way through the alphabet.

Here’s some tips to make your road trip more fun and less stressful:

1. Try to keep your travel expectations realistic. You may think that the kids will be happy and grateful for the opportunity to visit new places and spend time with relatives. You may also expect kids to get along with each other, not argue or bicker and exhibit their best behavior on the road and at their destination. In short, we parents often assume that everyone will act differently on vacation than they do at home. That’s not very reasonable. Everyone is packed into a tight spot with no way to escape and be alone. Fuses get short for everyone, including the adults.

2. Keep time expectations reasonable. Plan down time both on the road and at your final destination. You probably can’t do all of the things you want to do each day. Your kids will probably argue and fight on vacation if they do at home. 

3. Plan things for all ages. Your older kids will probably be bored by activities geared to younger kids. Your younger kids may not be interested in things the older kids enjoy. Try to balance it out and plan something for everyone. In the end, you’ll all still remember the good things more than the bad things.

4. Bring snacks – lots of snacks. We usually pack individual packs of chips, cheese crackers, and other non-perishable snacks in each person’s backpack or travel bag. Additionally, we pack individual bags of candy for each person and have a cooler loaded with healthier snacks, such as fruit, applesauce pouches, and cheese sticks.

5. Make memories together along the way. Whether you’re visiting relatives, heading to the beach or the mountains or sightseeing in new places, take time every day to share the best part of your day. 

6. Take photos and write in a journal. Take turns and let one child be in charge every day or give each of the kids their own journal and either a cellphone or disposable camera. Let the kids write about and illustrate their journey using spiral notebooks turned into travel journals. Take lots of photos to remember the trip later and relax as you enjoy family time on the road.

For more summer fun, these day trip and road trip ideas will help you plan a fun day away from home!

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You’ll find information about many summer family activities and events on our website.

You’ll find lots of local events to last you all summer in the Lynchburg Macaroni Kid calendar of events on our website. Subscribe to receive a FREE weekly listing of events and activities, as well as articles and guides about local family fun. If anyone tells you that there’s nothing to do in Lynchburg, don’t believe them! 

Let Lynchburg Macaroni Kid help you Find Your Family Fun® all summer long!