Entertainment for the easily carsick
December 4, 2017 11:12 AM   Subscribe

What activities that do not involve screens, movies, reading, coloring books or in general concentrating on something visually would you recommend for a car trip (~4 hours) with a young elementary kid?
posted by typecloud to Travel & Transportation (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Audio books!
posted by cooker girl at 11:14 AM on December 4, 2017 [12 favorites]

This is what all those silly "1 point for every out-of-state license plate" and "Find all the letters of the alphabet in street signs" games are for!
posted by The otter lady at 11:15 AM on December 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

License plate bingo. That said, my little guy gets car sick too- it’s bad. We do the sea-bands and find them actually effective. For longer trips we do both the sea-bands and kids Dramamine. The dual pronged approach allows him to watch movies without vomiting, but NOT play video games. The brain is weird.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 11:16 AM on December 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Audio books!


posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:18 AM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How young? We have a lot of fun with games like "I spy" and "I'm going on a picnic"
posted by Mchelly at 11:18 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Podcasts? (upon preview: podcasts!) Some of my favorites for littles are Brains On! (science), Eleanor Amplified (radio drama), Short and Curly (ethics for kids), Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child (curated music playlists), Stories Podcast (stories), Storynory (British stories), Story Pirates (stories written by kids, acted by professionals), The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian (one long story with "chapters"), Cramazingly Incredifun Sugarcrash Kids (acted stories with a recurring cast of characters and a moral), Tumble (science).
posted by LKWorking at 11:19 AM on December 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Depending on the age and attention span, an lengthy audiobooks may be a bit long - when we were young my parents would try to keep the in-car entertainment to things that could be broken into 5-10 minute attention spans.

We listened to a lot of the old variety comedy shows like Fibber McGee and Molly on tape while doing long drives when I was little. And singalong friendly music like sea shanties (everyone in the family was musical).

There's a bunch of kid friendly podcasts these days too.
posted by Candleman at 11:51 AM on December 4, 2017

Yes to audiobooks and podcasts. At that age Jr liked audible's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Winnie the Pooh (there is a lovely BBC cast version with Judi Dench).
posted by haunted_pomegranate at 11:54 AM on December 4, 2017

I play a game where you race to find a road sign with each letter of the alphabet, sequentially. So auto parts, Burger King, Circle K, dentist, etc. Q, Z and X (and maybe K) are skipped. Whomever gets to the end of the alphabet first wins. Multiple players cannot use the same sign.
posted by sacrifix at 12:01 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also the counting game (works best with more than 3 people in the car): See how high everyone in the car can count in a row, taking turns. Only three rules: 1) No eye contact, 2) Nobody can say two numbers in a row, and 3) Only one person can say each number. If someone says two numbers in a row, or two or more people say the same number at the same time, you get bumped back to zero. This sounds really easy but is actually really hard, which makes it pretty funny.
posted by Mchelly at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

On long trips we have one adult ride in back to facilitate conversation and game playing. Besides the suggestions above, our kid also listens to music in headphones (his own Spotify playlist).
posted by xo at 12:30 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

A tactil match-the-shape game like this might break things up. Also, mental math, or riddles read by someone else. In addition to audiobooks, stand-up comedy might be entertaining to listen to as a group (sharing in laughs is more fun than listening alone) but I'm out of touch so the only comedian I can think of that works for both adults and kids is Bill Cosby.
posted by metasarah at 12:37 PM on December 4, 2017

We do a "guess the animal" game where one person thinks of an animal and people try to guess it by asking questions, pretty much like 20 questions, though we have no limit on questions.
posted by freezer cake at 12:39 PM on December 4, 2017

Response by poster: As people have asked: kid in question is almost 6 (and unaffected younger brother is 3, but he'll try to watch something if his brother is).

Games and podcasts so far are great and I'll look through them.
posted by typecloud at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2017

Harry Potter audiobooks. Highly entertaining and the narrator is fantastic.
posted by onecircleaday at 1:07 PM on December 4, 2017

Best answer: We do podcasts in the car with my easily carsick 7 year old boy. His favorites are Wow in the World and Tumble Science.
posted by LightMayo at 1:35 PM on December 4, 2017

My friend took an Amtrak sleeper from NYC to Miami with his 6-year-old son, who listened to Stockard Channing read Ramona the Pest and other Ramona favorites all the way.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:54 PM on December 4, 2017

My wife, high schooler, and third-grader love travel bingo.
posted by 4ster at 3:07 PM on December 4, 2017

I was looking for car snooker, which led me here, which sets out the rules as well as some other activities.
posted by biffa at 3:10 PM on December 4, 2017

Maybe just music on an iPod (or phone).
posted by SemiSalt at 3:45 PM on December 4, 2017

Best answer: Motion sickness sufferer here - I get *very* carsick, and anything that requires visual interaction is a no-go.

If they feel like it: something like 'I spy' or a license plate game may work.

If they don't feel like it, and they just want to chill - a lot of audio selections on an iPod or something, if you don't want the entire care to listen to it. I don't have problems with audio selections at all, but if I'm already nauseous, I'm not going to be able to concentrate on something that requires a lot of concentration. They may just want to listen to silly songs for the trip.

Other suggestions - I find that ginger candies or ginger ale helps with the nausea, especially the kind that contain real ginger. Also, taking rest breaks to let the affected walk around is good, as fresh air can be soothing, and physically walking around can be grounding.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:53 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also a car-sickness sufferer, especially at that age.

Sitting in the front seat can help - it's to do with getting alignment between your internal motion signals (inner ear etc) and the visual cues - you have a better sense of what motions are coming up if you have a good view of the road to come. Fizzy drinks also helped, can just be sparkling water; and sweets that you suck on, or chewing gum - anything that gets the saliva glands going. Regular stops for fresh air and walking around was also good. (Or an open window to lean your head out, if stops are not possible. I was super sensitive to smells when I was nauseous, so this was important.)

I liked having my own walkman & headphones and selection of tapes. Car games were good too, simple things like i-spy and counting the number of [colour x] cars. Sometimes we did car sing-alongs; in my family this was to opera, Die Zauberflote was my mum's only car tape... I also just did a lot of staring out the window contemplating my own thoughts and breathing through the nausea - like spinifex23 says, sometimes doing anything else that required concentration was too much.
posted by yesbut at 5:28 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

For rest breaks -- A windshield cover makes a good rest mat. Collapsible beach chairs are good, but lying down is better. A cheap portable plastic fan can help, or waving a wet washrag near his face to get a breeze.
Rolled-up towels work as a pillow and a towel pinched between the windows of two doors can make an awning. An umbrella is good if the day is calm.
And lots of water to drink and splash on the face.

During car rides -- Some window sunblock panels are more opaque than others. Obscuring most of his view out the side window may help. Have a wind vent or fan that gently stirs the air near his face may help.
posted by TrishaU at 7:23 PM on December 4, 2017

My kid is that age and loves "20 questions" - somebody thinks of something (an object usually) and everyone else asks yes/no questions to try and find out what it is, like is it an animal, does it have 4 legs, is it bigger than you, etc.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:14 AM on December 5, 2017

Response by poster: All answers were helpful, marked as best those that are probably best for us. Podcasts seem a better thing to try than audiobooks as with books he'll still want to look at pictures while listening and that's a no-go. Thanks especially for specific podcast suggestions in that age-range!
posted by typecloud at 6:50 AM on December 5, 2017

Most of these suggestions are very passive - what about something more active? Google around for Crafts to do in the car for Kids. Here's a sample. It has suggestions like give the kids a tub of paper clips and let them make chains to string across the car or bend them into silly shapes. Or use tiny sticky notes in different colors to make mosaic pictures on the windows or a lap desk. Pipe cleaners to build sculptures of people, then put on a puppet show. Lots of other ideas out there.

You could put some of these things into wrapping paper and at timed intervals pull out another one for a surprise treat. The anticipation of waiting until exactly the right time is also part of the fun.
posted by CathyG at 6:37 AM on December 12, 2017

Also, will there be an adult who can ride in the back with the kids? Break up the trip so sometimes the adult is in the back and bill it as "Special Mommy Time" or even better "Daddy Time" and tell stories or work together on a project.
posted by CathyG at 6:40 AM on December 12, 2017

Oh, sets of flashcards of trivia questions or school questions, to be asked by the parents. My kids loved it when they could answer the questions from a grade above their own.
posted by CathyG at 6:41 AM on December 12, 2017

Response by poster: Pipe cleaner crafts are worth a look. Coloring makes him nauseous so anything looking at a flat sheet of paper is out but molding stuff or twisting with hands may be an exception, thanks.
posted by typecloud at 6:56 AM on December 12, 2017

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