Making Road Trips More Enjoyable

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Summer may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean we pack away the road trip. In fact, now’s a great time to take one last trip before the school year gets into full swing — or  think through how you’ll rock the fall and winter travels to Gramma’s House.

The following is written by LifeasMOM contributor Amy:

Want to hear less “Are we there yet,” and more “Cool! I didn’t know that?” on your next road trip?

Help your kids to track where you are going and keep them busy learning along the way with a travel binder, books and other resources.

First, plot your trip on a map that you can share with your kids.

Consider printing an overview map as well as a map which shows each day’s journey.

Next, gather fun resources on your route and destination.

Before your trip, head over to the library and gather as many books and books on CD as you can about your destination and the route along the way.

Or, better yet, hop online and request the books a few weeks before your journey so they will be there waiting for you when you arrive.

While you are there, ask the children’s librarian for more ideas of books that might feature your route. For example, for a trip to Boston, you might want to get books on the American Revolution, Boston Tea Party, an illustrated copy of Paul Revere’s Ride and the fiction book, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, among others.

Consider checking out travel guides, too, and let your kids flip through them themselves and point out activities and destinations that look interesting to them.

Visit the websites of places you will be visiting while on vacation. Print a page or two from each venue… include the hotel as well as any activities you will be doing or restaurants you know you will be visiting.

Are there any places along the way that are interesting? Print out pages from those websites, too, even if you won’t be able to visit them.

Organize your resources by destination, starting at your journey’s beginning point and traveling the route, sprinkling items about your destination along the way, but don’t put them in your children’s binders yet.


Create a travel folder or binder for each child, as well as one for yourself.

Give each child an overview map of your route and also a page with each day’s journey so they can see where you are going and mark off the cities and towns as they see them on the signs you pass.

Include travel activities like tic tac toe, travel bingo and plenty of plain paper for drawing and writing.

Don’t pass out the information about the journey just yet.

Celebrate the journey and learn.

As you cross a state line or drive near a city for which you have information, take a break from whatever else you were doing, celebrate, and pass out any relevant resources you found on that state or destination. Have your children take turns reading the information from the sheet and sharing their thoughts.

Throughout the journey, share resources, read books and listen to books on CD or even movies, if you can, about the final destination. Don’t pass them all out at the beginning of the trip to be enjoyed in the first 10 minutes. Spread them out to last throughout the whole journey.

Preparing your children before reaching your destination can only lead to a better trip when you are there… and what better way to do it than while on your way?

What are YOUR tricks for great road trips?

Amy is the Mom behind both Mom’s Travel Tales and Mom’s Toolbox. She is a world traveler — in heart, body, and prayer. She regularly hosts the Bible in 90 Days read-along. A mother of three young children, Amy writes to equip moms with tools for success whether at home or abroad.

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  1. We used to do something very similar with our kids. We also included a page with a list of all the states on it. The children would watch and try to find lisence plates for each state. Or a Black and white copy of a U.S. map so they can color in the states as you pass thru or see lisence plates from them too.

  2. For the last few years my husband and son have driven to California just to eat at In n Out right before the school year starts. They pick something fun to do on the way, but the biggest reason is fast food.
    This year they are going the last weekend of August since we don’t start school until after Labor Day.

  3. We used to play the alphabet game….you cooperatively work together to find every letter in the alphabet in order. (Off street signs, billboards, whatever.) We also played license plate bingo…Make bingo cards with different state’s license plates….or just try to find all 50!

  4. I made lap trays for my preschoolers for our cross country road trip. They are still a little too young to fully appreciate all the geographical information, but we made sure to point out all the state signs, and showed them our route on a map. They stayed busy with their trays and we came home with all 20 crayons that we left with- that to me was a success in and of itself! Another trick that I learned from my sister is to limit time with electronic devices (Ipod, DS, DVD player) until the evening each day. In the morning it is creative play (magnetic letters, clay-it is less messy than playdough-coloring), then we have lunch. After that, we enforce a regular rest time, just like at home. And later, when it is getting dark and it is harder to enjoy other, more creative activities, we pull out the battery operated entertainment! It works great and really helps to limit they time they spend.

  5. That travel guide idea is too cute!! We travel 12 hours (each way!) to visit my husband’s family in another state each summer. Next year, we will have a 4-year-old and 18-month-old….I think we will need one of those!