Anticipation is part of the excitement of getting to the Outer Banks. Road tripping, even with a car full of little ones, can be fun if you’re prepared. Here are some creative road trip activities that will keep the kids happy on your way to an Outer Banks adventure:
Prizes make car games more fun. Wrap small, inexpensive trinkets or car-friendly art supplies in leftover wrapping paper and let the winner choose from a grab bag. It’s always a good idea to have consolation prizes so no backseat fights break out. Prizes don’t have to be “things”; they can be vacation honors such as choosing a restaurant or an activity. Prizes can also be well-timed snacks — especially if the snacks aren’t something that’s normally allowed at home. Small beach toys that can be shared make excellent awards.
Using Google Maps, print a one-page view of your driving route so kids can follow along. Visually divide the trip into small sections marked with an “x”. Each “x” indicates that it’s time for a snack, a prize, or a new game or activity.
Look Outside Games
State License Plate Checklist
Print out a list of state license plates and see how many you can spot while you’re on the road. To print out a visual list of the 50 official state license plates, just Google “official state license plates.” If you’re playing for a prize, give extra points for spotting a specialty or vanity license plate for that state.
Road Trip Bingo
Download and print any of the many free Road Trip Bingo cards on the Internet. You can also make your own by drawing or printing grids on half-sheets of printer paper. If you make your own, add a mixture of easy things to spot, such as birds and stop signs, as well as more infrequent sightings such as joggers and fire engines.
Travel Scavenger Hunt
Another great look-outside game is a travel scavenger hunt. You can download free checklists or make your own. See who can be the first to spot a cow, a lake, someone on a cell phone, someone wearing a hat, a church, and so on. The first one to collect the most things on the list is the winner.
Divvy up a roll of aluminum foil and see who can make the most interesting sculpture. Kids can make horses, fish, or other animals that are found in the Outer Banks. Tinfoil is recyclable, so be sure to toss it in the recycle bin when you get to your rental.
Washable Car Window Markers
Look in the craft section of your local big box store for washable car window markers such as Crayola™ Ultra-Clean Markers. Kids can safely draw on the backseat windows with these markers because the ink cleans up with water or a baby wipe.
Mini Dry Erase Boards
If you don’t want your little Picassos drawing on the windows, furnish each child with a mini dry erase board. These inexpensive boards eliminate drawing paper waste in the backseat, plus they can serve as a hard surface for snacks, drawing, or making tinfoil sculptures.
Kids never get tired of the magic of magnets. Give everyone a mini cookie sheet and package of magnetic numbers, letters, or cartoon characters. Cookie sheets are also a nice hard surface for drawing, using as a snack tray, and car-friendly crafts.
Quiet Time Activities
New Art Supplies
There’s something about a new coloring book/pad and brand-new crayons that makes everyone happy. Use these as an incentive for the halfway point of the trip, and keep kids busy through the longest stretch.
Most libraries have audio books you can download to your Smartphone. Choose a new story that your kids want to listen to, a favorite such as Harry Potter, or a classic such as Treasure Island. Audio books make the time fly, and also encourage quiet times that lead to naps.
Mad Libs for Kids
You can download free Mad Libs for kids or buy an inexpensive notepad of them. Mad Libs help teach kids the parts of grammar, but all they really care about is coming up with the wildest words they can think of. Mad Libs make everyone laugh, and everyone knows you can’t laugh and fight or cry at the same time. This is a good activity to save for the home stretch.
Road tripping to the Outer Banks can be fun if you build excitement with your kids, switch up the activities, and have things planned that also include quiet time. Load up your car with supplies, snacks, and a few fun surprises and you’ll be here before you know it.