Don't leave home without car games for kids. Occupied children are happy children, quiet children, and well-behaved children.
But you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune on kids' car games just to have a peaceful, enjoyable trip. Here are some tips on finding travel games for kids that provide the best value for your money.
Lugging regular games with you on a road trip never quite seems to work. They're too big. They have too many loose pieces. They're more complicated than you want for a family vacation.
Fortunately, there are many car games for kids that are designed to hold the attention of little people without creating extra headaches for big people. Here's what we like:
Melissa and Doug. This maker of educational toys has come up with several fun car games for kids, such as Flip to Win Travel Bingo, U.S.A. License Plate Game, and Pets Jigsaw Puzzles in a Box.
Hasbro. The popular toy company offers travel versions of several classic games, such as Battleship, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Memory.
Pressman Toy. Don't forget about Bingo, Mastermind, and Hangman.
All over the web, there are sites offering free games your kids can play with pencil and paper. All you have to do is remember to print the games before you set out. Here's where to look:
MomsMinivan. This site offers so many options, it's ridiculous. Their printable games are the real deal. Highlights include Tic-Tac-Toe, Lines and Dots, and Travel Scavenger Hunt.
PrintablePlay. This site is a bit more focused, offering only 10 of the most popular car games of all time.
Never underestimate the power of your own mind - and the minds of your children. Make up a game on the spot. Go around the car and tell everyone they have to make up a song based on the scenery that's passing by.
Hold an impromptu scavenger hunt, where the first person to see, say, a red Subaru, wins and gets to pick the next item for everyone to search for. Or challenge your kids to make up their own game. The younger they are, the funnier the results.
Have fun out there! And relax - it's not that much farther to the hotel.