1. Books on CD
Before leaving home, visit the local library for fun stories read by celebrity storytellers. These can be played aloud for the entire family to enjoy or you can invest in a pair of headphones and a portable CD player. For a creative twist, check out some of your favorite children's chapter books from the library and promise the kids that every two hours you'll read a couple of chapters. Kid favorites include "The Littles," "Geronimo Stilton," "Magic Tree House" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
2. Color Wonders by Crayola
If you've ever found your child and their car seat covered in marker, you'll appreciate Color Wonders. Crayola got creative, and solves this dilemma with "clear ink" that only shows up on special Color Wonder paper. When coloring in the car, a kid-sized lap desk comes in handy. The 'Desk to Go' has pockets on the sides to store your markers.
3. Handheld Video Games
Popular handheld devices include Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable for older kids and LeapFrog Leapster and VTech's MobiGo for the younger set. Additionally, many full-size game systems such as Vtech's V.Smile and Wii can be connected to a portable DVD player for multi-player gaming options. If you don't own a handheld, borrow one from a friend as it can provide hours of enjoyment.
4. Travel Bingo
Hand out downloadable bingo cards at the beginning of the trip and offer a reward for a completed card or create a competition to see who finds all of the items first. Either way, have small rewards ready for your winners.
5. Side Trips
Before leaving home, review your driving route and plan stops along the way so that everyone knows in advance when they will be able to get out and stretch their legs. Drop some of the city names you will be crossing through into Google to see if there are any points of interest you should visit. Make a game out of looking for signs/billboards advertising your next stop.
6. Movie Time
Stop at a Redbox location (or plan ahead and rent from your local library for free) and turn on the DVD player. It can buy you nearly two hours of quiet time!
In addition to these activities, be sure to pack healthy low-sugar snacks. Prepackage your snacks in small plastic bags or containers. A family with full bellies is a happy family.
Writer Jennifer Brown takes advantage of every opportunity to explore the St. Louis area with her husband and three sons, ages 6, 4 and 6 months. She is proud to live in a city that has so much to offer families with children of all ages! Contact Jennifer.
Best Bets articles represent the views and the research completed by St. Louis Sprout & About journalists and are not driven by advertising or requests by vendors or venues. Best Bets do not imply an endorsement of a business or activity.