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You’ve been driving for 16 hours and four words—“are we there yet?”—echo in your head. The two little angels in the back seat have turned into cranky, whiny, demanding creatures. Their behavior can be attributed to three things: boredom, boredom and more boredom.

A few simple planned activities can help avoid boredom, and offer parents relief. If traveling by car, children of all ages can play road games. For example, children who can read can identify the state of origin of license plates on passing cars. Prepare an alphabetical list of the states so that the kids can check them off as they see them. And don’t forget Alaska and Hawaii. They’ve both been spotted as far away as Florida!

Even children who are just learning their ABC’s can play the sign game. The object is to find a sign or billboard that has a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet. This is not a competitive game, as they all work together to get to Z. They’ll definitely find Q to be a challenge!

Younger children can count the number of street lights, highway exits or vehicles they can see within a specific time frame. It’s also fun to look for farm animals or airplanes. Older children can help navigate by looking for a particular exit or town. Mark your path on a map, and let them follow along.

Don’t forget to stock the car with the basics: decks of cards, coloring and activity books, paper and pencils, crayons, stickers and some small toys. Hand puppets are easy to transport and can offer hours of creative play. Purchase a small notebook for each child so they can keep a journal of the trip. A great way to manage all of these items is a travel caddy that hangs on the back of the front seats. These are inexpensive and can be found at most discount or variety stores.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. Employ some of these travel time activities and it will be “smooth sailing” all the way!