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Say goodbye to boring car rides

Getting there can be half the fun!

If you're going on a long-distance car ride any time soon, you'll want to check out these great ideas for leaving boring car rides in the dust!

Book discussions. Listen to a book on tape or CD and discuss the plot, characters and setting. Turn off the CD at critical points and discuss what will happen next: “Are you feeling uneasy about this?” “What do you think of that character?” “How do you think the story will end?” If you are visiting a historic site, find books with the setting in that location.

Simply stated. Print out a map of the United States which shows the outline for each state. As you travel, look for license plates from each state and color that state in. Or attach points to each state. Ones local to this region could be worth one point. Further away, five points. Hawaii or Alaska, fifteen points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the trip wins. Also find a map of the region you are visiting and draw the route for your kids to follow along. Maps can be printed off by logging.

READ MORE: Beat the travel boredom blues

Scavenger hunt. Divide the game into three parts: city, suburbs and rural. Under each section write or draw pictures of things for your children to look for then they can check it off as you travel. For the city it might be a bus or a red light. For the country it could be a cow, barn, pond or forest. For the suburbs, a Walmart, post office or delivery van.

Rhyming ramble. Play rhyming rounds by starting with a word such as “Ball.” Everyone comes up with words that rhyme until the list is exhausted. Then move on to a new word.

Word scramble. On a piece of paper write the city and state of your destination and see how many words your children can make using those letters. Offer incentives for words that use more than three letters.

READ MORE: How to keep everyone happy during a family vacation.

Science savvy. If your children are interested in a particular facet of nature such as rocks or birds, pick up a small field guide before you leave home. When you stop at a rest area, look for those types of nature items and compare it with what’s in the book: “Is this an igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock?” “What types of bird did this feather came from?”

    Denise Morrison Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children.