6 Tips and 7 Games for Travel with Children

When traveling with children:

  1. Plan to add one third extra time to get to your destination to avoid the extra stress of arriving late.
  2. Stop for gasoline when the tank is half-full to allow for scheduled potty stops.
  3. Drive at night or early in the morning if the trip is a long one so the kids can sleep for at least part of the drive.
  4. Avoid driving in rush hour like the plague.
  5. End the travel day early so the kids can adjust to their new surroundings. Playtime at the pool or a walk around the motel/hotel/resort stretches the muscles and allows for getting-out-the-wiggles time before dinner.
  6. If the children need to be “dressed” for an occasion, stop before you get to the destination.


Safety Belt Song (sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Safety Belts, Safety Belts, Wear them all the way.

Every time you’re in your car, Any night or day, oh

Safety Belts, Safety Belts, Put them ’round your lap,

Then before you start to ride, Everybody—SNAP (National Safety Council)


Travel games that require no equipment:

  1. Twenty Questions—Write down the name of a person, place, or thing. Using 20 questions total, everyone asks yes or no questions to guess the written name.
  2. “I’m going on a trip and I’m bringing . . .”—This is a memory game. Each person repeats the original sentence, including what everyone else is bringing, then adds their own. Keep going until someone forgets an item.
  3. Alphabet game—A competition to find all the letters of the alphabet, in sequence, from license plates, signs, billboards, and restaurant menus.
  4. Reverse—Spell words backwards so others may guess the word.
  5. “I spy with my little eye something . . .”—Use color, shape, size, or rhymes-with for others to guess what has been seen.
  6. Storytelling—A story in the round game where one person starts a story, stops in mid-sentence so the next person may continue the story.
  7. License Plate Lunacy—make up wacky phrases using the letters of license plates. For instance, “IDB” can be “I Despise Broccoli.”

Research from:

Tsai Podlaha, M. (12/2013). The reality of child seats and rental cars. Consumer Reports. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/12/the-reality-of-child-seats-and-rental-cars/index.htm

Lansky, V. (2004). Trouble-Free Travel with Children (pp.). Minnetonka, MN: Book Peddlers


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