We had several games the kids enjoyed playing when they were younger and we were traveling. Most included winning money!
For car trips with kids, I make a "no boredom bag". It can be a backpack, or any bag, but ones with pockets are good. It depends on what age as to what you put in it, but I usually put the following for my 9 year old :4-5 coloring/activity books, a book to read, a small pack of crayons, a small pack of markers, a small magnadoodle, various snacks, a spillproof cup, wet wipes, some car games, and an mp3 player. Most of it can be bought at the dollar store, and can be mixed and matched according to the child's preferences and ages, and it solves the "are we there yet?" and "I'm so bored!" comments.
By blueflye from Idaho
I have used something similar to this idea where I bought the small brown lunch bags and put a different new toy or book or puzzle in a different bag enough for every day that we were travelling. After lunch, our child would get to pick out a bag from the stash and discover whatever was in there. It made the afternoon of driving so much more fun for everyone.
I have done the same as pwsmith. We drove 1,000 miles (each way) across the country when my daughter was 3 years old. When my mother-in-law goes to McDonald's, she buys Happy Meals for herself (she doesn't eat much), and saves the toys for us. We very rarely go to McDonald's, so the toys are new and exciting for our daughter. I had a stash of these toys, an assortment of stickers I had accumulated along the way, and printable activities I found online. I put them in paper bags (I found cute blue ones on markdown), and made two bags for each day of our trip (one for the start of our drive, and one for after lunch). I made sure to staple the bags shut. We ended up not needing each one, but having that option for a toddler was good.
Sometime before the trip, without letting your kids know, pack a small bag or sack with all kinds of "fun" things - silly putty, word search puzzles, balloons, candy, harmonica, small toys from kids' meals, crayons or markers and book, small binoculars - whatever you can find that will keep them busy and that won't be really messy. Include any small toys that they haven't played with in awhile. But, don't let them see what you are packing!
Then, when you have played all the sing-a-long games and everything else is getting old and they're saying "I'm bored!", pull out the "bored bag!" You can pack one for each child so they don't fight over it, but try to include a wide variety of things.
By Patti from Farmington, AR
This is a wonderful idea, but I'd be careful about including a harmonica! After who knows how many miles, it just might drive everyone in the car berserk! :)
I would like to add the little bottles of bubbles like you get for party favors. It kept my 7 year old and 20 month old entertained on a recent trip, and they're small enough that they don't make a mess.
To make a magnetic puzzle for traveling, use a cookie sheet and stick a magnet onto the back of all the puzzle pieces in the box.
Anyone who has to pick up their kids or grandkids from a childcare situation after work knows that the ride home can sometimes be filled with whining and complaining as the kids are tired and hungry.
Before starting any vacation or car-travel, go to a good $1 store and pick out 5 small quiet toys for each child. Then give these to them one at a time throughout the trip instead off buying trinkets at each stop along the way. This will not only keep your children occupied, but will save you all kinds of money. You can even use these toys as "bribery", as in "If you keep your voices down and don't fight with your sister for the next hour, I have a new toy for you.
Buy some of the new clipboards that have a compartment in the bottom. Fill with paper crayons and car games. Some car games can be found on the internet and just printed out.