My favorite mode of transportation is by car, so when I started this #VanLife, I treated it just like an extended road trip.

When I road trip, I either turn the music up and sing to pass the hours or drive in silence listening to my thoughts. I can’t do that all the time because I’m traveling with my child. She will sing along when I crank up the tunes, but some days she needs other forms of entertainment and sitting on her iPad for hour drives is a no-go.

I have cut down on drive time. I won’t do more than five hours/day. Our longest drive was 18 hours with a three hour break. I’m not doing that anymore.

Road Trip Tips

Here are some of the ways I keep her entertained (and learning) as we road trip without having to buy a bunch of workbooks or road trip games. All we need are dry erase markers, and even those aren’t necessary but they’re fun.

1. Vocabulary Games

Each week she gets new vocabulary words. These are words she doesn’t know but sees on our visits to museums. I have her write them on the passenger-side window with a dry erase marker. There are two different games with do with these vocabulary words.

Option #1: She has to find the letters for each word, in order, until it is complete ONLY using license plates. The variation, she can use road signs and billboards.

Option #2: As we have conversation, we see who can correctly use the words the most over a thirty minute span and she keeps track with tally marks on the window.

2. Old School Road Trip Games

There are a number of ABC style games. With this activity each person takes turns using the letter of the alphabet to name food, fruits, states, countries, or whatever they can think of while progressing through the alphabet until they get to Z.

Example using food:

Me: Apple

Her: Banana

Me: Celery…

For an added challenge, we have to repeat each letter and word as the game progresses. Sometimes, we’ll start with the letter and name as many things in the category as we can before we move on to the next letter.

3. The License Plate Game

If you’ve every been on a long road trip, you’ve probably played this game. We look for out-of-state license plates. Once we find them, I have her write them down so we know it’s off the list. If we’re on a long expanse with little to no cars, if she finds one, I have her look up a state fact like the state bird or flag. Then I have her draw it out either on the window or in her sketch pad.

4. Math and Movement

When we pass a population marker, I have her look up the demographics of the city and compare it to the closest city. For example, we were driving through West Memphis, Arkansas and the population marker had ‘123,456’ which we thought was hilarious. But, we were driving to smaller town and when we passed that marker, the population was ‘1102’.

I’ll have her compare the demographics by age, gender, and racial composition. Sometimes, I’ll have her look up the employment sector and ask her questions about why she thinks the demographics are so different. I mainly ask her this question if we are in an industrial or agricultural town.

5. Rapping Remix

Deep down inside, I know I was supposed to be a lyricist (…bars). With that being said, it gets live in Verché and Jayla has been challenged to many a rap battle. I’ll put on some instrumentals and we have battle it out.

For an added challenge, we have to use the things from the scenery in the rhymes. I might have to record the next battle and share because my flow went crazy when we passed the farm!

These activities keep me entertained too. There’s only so much I can do as the driver. And, it keeps us communicating and actively enjoying one another’s time together.

Bought these at the Dollar Store and gave them away. I couldn’t really drive and play!

What activities do you take along with you or make up as you go on long trips?

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