Can Road Trip Games be the Cure for Boredom?

Stacey and her family cram their van with suitcases, snacks, and sunscreen, as they get ready for their anticipated vacation to Disney World.

Ten minutes down the street Stacey hears the inevitable “I’m bored” from her four-year-old son. Stacey realizes this is going to be a long ten hour drive for her and her family. She tells her son to color or play a video because it’s going to be a long car ride. Her son whines and pulls out his GameBoy.

Fifteen minutes later Stacey hears the whining again and her son, yet again, blurts out “I’m bored!” Stacey hands him his coloring book and crayons suggests that he colors. Her son moans and begins scribbling in his book. Stacey turns back around and dreads the next nine and a half hours awaiting her.

Teenagers complaining they have nothing to do on vacation?

Are you tired of hearing “I’m bored!” or “There’s nothing to do!”

This can become frustrating and annoying very quickly. Having to find constant entertainment for your children during a road trip, or even at home, can be exhausting and time consuming for you.

Hand off that responsibility to your children and give yourself a break from being the boredom buster.

How To Find a Cure for Boredom:

When coming up with a cure for your child’s boredom, use the F-A-X listening tool.

F=Focus on feelings. Acknowledge your children’s boredom and empathize with them. Let them know that you understand how it feels when you’re bored.

A=Ask helpful questions. Ask your children to brainstorm ideas of different activities they can do during a road trip or at home.

X=eXamine possible solutions for what they can do when they are bored. Have them write a list or if they are too young have them tell you and you write it.  Some examples are:

  • Road trip games such as Mind Trap, Password, BrainQuest and travel versions of games.
  • Video games or electronic activities. With these activities set a limit on how long your children use these activities, so they can focus more on creative or educational road trip games and activities.
  • Free road trip games  such as “I Spy”, counting license plates or a particular colored car, or 20 Questions are activities all family members can enjoy together.
  • Coloring.
  • Reading.
  • Activity books. You can try and get some that have to do with your vacation. For example if you are going to Disney you can get Disney activity books or if you are going to the beach you can get books about the beach. This may be more interesting than a generic activity because it focuses on what your child is excited about already.

At home, in addition to the suggestions above, you can:

  • Plan a special outing like bike riding, going to the park or having a picnic.
  • Get a membership to the local pool, amusement park or museum. These memberships can pay off if you visit these places often enough.
  • Sign up your children for summer camp or other extra-curricular activities. Keep a balance in your schedule, though, since keeping your children constantly on the go can be stressful for you and your children. Have them pick one extra-curricular activity to focus on per season.

After your children have made their list, have them keep it somewhere they can see it. If you are on a road trip post it on the back of your chair facing your child or keep it in their backpack, but make sure it’s in a place they can access it easily. If you are at home you can post it on the fridge.

If your children complain about being bored, have them refer to the list. If you notice your children doing a new activity, suggest having them add it to the list. Remember that finding the cure for boredom  is your children’s responsibility and not yours.


For more tips to finding the cure for boredom and more information about The Parent’s Toolshop® and its unique Universal Blueprint® problem-solving system, get the 7 Keys to Parenting Success free ebook. You will be less frustrated, respond more calmly and feel more confident in any parenting situation.

The best part is the ebook is free!  So what are you waiting for?  Minimize family stress by getting the ebook for effective parenting tips and advice!


Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop and president of Parent’s Toolshop Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. She has 30 years experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. She has interviewed many parenting experts on her Parents Tool Talk radio show and is a parenting expert columnist. She has produced almost 100 multimedia resources, which are available at her award-winning website,

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