When I started my road trip with my eight year old, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep him entertained. This is how I prepared.
I of course packed food, tents, and clothing, but that’s another story. For my son, I prepared an armrest car carrier full of toys that he still enjoys. I then hid the carrier for a couple weeks before the trip. This kept the toys from being boring to quickly. I then packed a car seat carrier with books, coloring books, car games, and crayons. I also packed a soccer ball and football to allow play time at rest stops when we were driving to long. Lastly, I plugged all of our electronics (freshly downloaded iPads, iPhones, DVD player, Nintendo DS, etc) into their chargers so they would be fully charged.
This is the point where my over the top planning and excitement took me to the next level! I printed a map of our trip for my son to follow.
Which I then put in a binder. This left the binder kind of empty. I had to fill it, obviously. I took Highlights Which Way USA (state informational books for kids that we had found at a local garage sale) and put those in the binder as well. They had information about national monuments, attractions, state birds, etc.
I also created grab bags for each state. These consisted of a brown bag containing a candy and unique toy for each state that we passed through.
After all of my careful planning, my eight year old son was mostly just interested in the electronics and the surprise grab bags. The rest just seemed to take up space. I would say that options are important, but since we stop every couple hours to check something out, he preferred to spend his down time on something he loves to do.
We are now working on a plan to minimize electronic use on the longer drives, but I’ll let you know how that goes.