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Tips for Keeping Your Kids Entertained in the Car

What do you get when you add a few bored children to a cramped car and then drive nonstop for hours? A recipe for a road trip filled with lots of fidgeting, whining and possibly fighting. Annoying? Yes, but also distracting. Unfortunately, taking your eyes off the road for only two seconds doubles your chances of getting into a crash.

So, for your safety — as well as your sanity — check out these tips for keeping your children busy and entertained while you're on the road.

Three kids in the car backseat on their tablets.

Electronics

For most parents, the first choice for entertaining their kids is to hand them an electronic device, such as a tablet or a smartphone. While these are great at keeping a child's attention, they can also be major brain drains. Instead of just movies and games, load up the devices with educational apps or videos of your destination to help keep your kid engaged. Try to place a time limit on how long they can use the device. Don't forget to charge up a portable power bank, especially if the kids are using your smartphone during the trip. Also, remind the kids to never leave any devices unattended in the vehicle.

Books

Becoming engrossed in a book is an excellent way to kill time. Before your trip, stock up on books at your local library or half-price bookstore. Bringing the kids along to help make the picks ensures they've got something they'll enjoy and helps them look forward to the trip. You also might want to check with your children's schools to see if there is a suggested reading list, especially if you'll be traveling during winter or spring breaks.

Brain Games

Go old-school and have your children play the games that you or your parents may have grown up with, including the license plate game or "20 Questions." These are fun ways to encourage kids to engage with others in the car, check out the passing scenery and give their eyes a break from a screen or page.

Stop for Exercise

Make stops for fuel, food or bathroom breaks to give a chance for the kids to burn off excess energy. For example, choose a restaurant with a play area or go for a walk around a rest stop area. While it might add on a few more minutes to your trip, kids with less pent-up energy means a more relaxing car ride for you.

It's also a good idea to check with your insurance agent to see if you have roadside assistance coverage before a long trip. That way, you'll have someone to call if you have a flat tire or a dead battery while on the road.


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