For those who can afford it, many newer cars have entertainment centers in the back for children. Not that the children aren’t already amusing themselves with all sorts of handheld devices, which cost substantially less than a newer model car. There are some other ideas that don’t involve shelling out more money.
Preview the trip with the kids. Get them to absorb what they’re likely to see and visit by using either the Internet or paper, like maps and fliers. Without sounding deadly, turn it into a learning experience as well as an appetite-wetter. Find out what they’d like to experience that’s within your budget.
If you haven’t brought food along, buy lunch in a supermarket rather than a fast-food store. It’s usually cheaper and healthier. Many supermarkets have eating areas so you don’t have to leave the store to have lunch.
If it’s warm outside, have a picnic in a safe park, preferably one with a playground. It gives the kids a chance to run around. If there are other kids in the park, encourage your kids to play with them.
Try some old-fashioned verbal games when you’re driving. These include “Stinky Pinky” and “Double-Double.” Stinky Pinky is where one player asks the others to guess an answer that rhymes. So, what is an overweight feline? A fat cat. Double-Double is where you extend the challenge—where all the words have to sound alike or go further, where you string several words together. So, what’s a complete empty space? A whole hole.
Many kids have cell phones that take pictures. There are also cheap digital cameras. Have them make a travelogue of the trip for themselves, family, and friends.