We have taken a few family trips with our kids.... and I have found, if you have some fun things to keep kids occupied with, the trip will be much more enjoyable for everyone!
Here is a list of idea's that my kids love....
1. Camera - I give each kid (I started doing this when my youngest was 3 yrs old.) a camera. Make sure it is charged or has fresh batteries (take the charger along with your overnight bag and charge while your sleeping so it will be ready to go the following day.) I let my kids take pictures of anything that interest's them. When we get home, I delete the fuzzy or blurry pictures and use some of their good pictures, along with some of mine, to make a keepsake book for them to look through to remember the trip by.
2. Silly Putty - All kids, all ages love silly putty! You can also buy different colored silly putty. Just keep it off of clothing!
3. Bingo Car Game - this works great for middle school kids that know how to read.... Mom mom always had these for traveling when I was a kid! We have a few different sets. I bought mine at our local Rural King store.
4. Water Wow Books - My two youngest kids (ages 6 & 9) loved these! They are no mess and reusable, which I love and water to fill the pens is so easy to come by on a trip!
5. Figurines - I bought each of the kids some Figurines to play with ( I thought these were cute since our trip this year was to the ocean!) Any figurines would work, as long as it's something you kids are into.
6. Sponge Ball Shooters - My kids also love playing with these Sponge Ball Shooters - they are perfect in the car, as the foam balls are attached to a string!
7. Silly Neon Rubbery Monsters and Plastic Magic Springs and Sticky Hands make for fun car toys also. I got these for Our trip out west and the kids liked them.
8. Glow Necklaces and Bracelets and Finger Lights are fun to have if you are going to be traveling at night. I forgot these for our last trip and wished I'd have had them.
9. Books - I let each kid pick out a couple favorite books to look at on the trip.
10. Notebook and Pen or Activity Book and Crayons. Each of the kids had their own notebook and pen to draw with. If your kids won't keep the pen on the paper when using it - this may not be for you. Older kids could keep a journal of the trip if they wanted to.
11. Stuffed Animal - everyone is allowed to take their favorite stuffed animal, although my youngest is the only one that takes a stuffed animal with her now.
12. Stick Bots - I bought a stick bot for each of the kids. They are pretty cool in general, but the teen especially enjoyed playing with hers using the stick bot app.
13. Pillows and Blanket - Each kid takes their own bed pillow or a neck pillow (depending on how much room we have) and a small fuzzy blanket. We love the small lap blankets and use them all the time here at home. It makes tired kids feel cozy and helps them to sleep.
14. Music and Audio Books - We love Sirius XM and have it in our home and our car! No more commercials and no more flipping channels. It's well worth a subscription if you are taking a long road trip! I also check out audio books on CD at our library for the kids to listen to stories. We like Laura Ingalls Wilder Series and Magic Tree house
15. Electronic Game - If your kid has a tablet or DS, a new game for their device will keep them busy - just remember to take a car charger with you. (we have a rule that if we are driving long hours on the interstate, they may play on their games, but if we are sight seeing - the games have to be shut off)- I want them to experience the trip as much as possible!
I usually open all the toys from any packaging and put them in a container for the trip. We have a SUV, so the two youngest have the container between them on the seat and the teen keeps her stuff in a book bag with her in the back seat.
Other things to do on a trip is to stop and let the kids get out and run around a bit. Take a jump rope, sidewalk chalk, or a ball for them to kick around at the rest stop. Stop for an ice cream cone!
Always keep a water bottle for each child beside them. I also always put together a basket of snacks for the trip and keep it within reach while we are driving! (See my list of snacks here.)
Most of all, remember that kids are just that, kids! Traveling wears them out and sometimes you need to give them extra grace on a road trip! Make sure you are making memories!
*Note. I generally don't recommend Dollar Tree toys, because they are cheap and often don't hold up well - but for trips, they have worked out great for our family - the kids are excited to get new toys and I love that it's not costing me an arm and a leg!